Friday, March 18, 2011

Preparation for Worship on Sunday

Church family,

As you may have noticed, yesterday was St. Patrick's Day. Contrary to popular opinion, St. Patrick's Day was not established to celebrate leprechauns, green clothes, shamrocks, Lucky Charms, green beer, parades, or even being Irish. In fact, St. Patrick himself was not even Irish! Come join us on Sunday to hear more about that.

But one thing we're doing this Sunday -- which will be a first for DPC as far as I know -- is singing St. Patrick's hymn,The Lorica.

"Lorica" is a latin word meaning body armor. It generally refers to the breastplate. And much of this song is a beautiful expression of just that... our confidence that by our confession of Christ we can "be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might, [having] put on the whole armor of God, that [we] may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil" (Ephesians 6). In constant confrontation with the pagan Druids and deadly tyrants who wanted him dead, this is something that Patrick had to constantly remind himself of.

The words to The Lorica are a strong and powerful celebration of many things:
  • our baptism into the name of the Trinity
  • the gift of faith in Christ
  • the Christian's love for the person & work of Christ (most especially his baptism, death, resurrection, ascension, & promised return)
  • angels, who are "ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation" (Hebrews 1.14)
  • the promise of being found pleasing in God's sight through Christ
  • a love for the doctrinal content of the Christian faith
  • a love of Scripture, in all of its diverse forms
  • a love of good works, for which God created us & prepared us, so that we may walk in them (Ephesians 2.10)
  • a love of justification -- because Christ gave himself as a ransom for us (Matthew 20.28)
  • a love for the beauty of God's creation in nature, which Patrick got to know well in Ireland... and which is also ours to enjoy, as a delightful gift from our heavenly Father
  • a love for God's protection, wisdom, guidance, Word...
  • a REVELING in what it means to be "in Christ"
  • the glory of the Trinity
  • the praise of God
  • the undeserved gift of salvation

It's actually my all-time favorite song. It was sung after the baptism of all five of my children.

But let me warn you -- it's not an easy, "light" song to learn and sing. It's a strong, vigorous, and good song. Actually, it's more than good. It's remarkable. It's tremendous. It's magnificent.

And I hope you'll enter into it vigorously and strongly on Sunday. It's not to be sung in a slow, lilting, "swaying," sentimentally religious, dead, sleepy manner. If you attempt to do so, I'll stop the singing at once, preach the entire sermon all over again, & make us start all over.

I'm not kidding.

But it is to be sung with vigor and energy. It's more a marching song than a swaying song. And it's going to take a strong, vigorous effort on your part to sing it well. But I think you'll love it.

Millar Patrick (one of the world's great hymnologists) says this about The Lorica: "[Patrick's] authorship, though not absolutely certain, has great probabilities in its favor.... the uncouthness of grammatical construction and the innocence of knowledge of either Irish or classical verse which are consistent with his lack of education; but it also has the fire of his great heart in it, and it gives such moving expression to his own faith and consecration that it is likely to remain a hymn in which youth especially will find a voice for its devotion."


I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord
And purity of ransomed souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old undying rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

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