Monday, March 14, 2011

Green Beer and Snakes

I thought this title might stir some attention......:-)

St. Patrick's Day is approaching. Most folks think of partying....wearing green and drinking green beer. Like myself, most have never given much consideration to the story of St. Patrick.'s a bit...

Patrick was a missionary to Ireland, and the only missionary to be honored with a global holiday, known for it's distinct color of green. Legend has it that he drove all the snakes out of Ireland. Historically this is inaccurate and most likely is simply a reference to Christianity unseating the Druid religion of the time, the Druids being the "snakes".

He was born in the year 373 A.D. in the country that is now "Scotland", the son of a church deacon and the grandson of a priest. As a teenager, his village was raided, his small village torched and Patrick was taken captive by ship to Ireland, where he was sold as a slave to a master who was a druid (a pagan religion). While in Ireland Patrick gave his heart to Jesus Christ. He wrote... "The Lord opened my mind up to awareness of my unbelief in order that I might remember my transgressions and turn with all my heart to the Lord my God".
Patrick eventually escaped from his Irish master and returned home to Scotland.
One night he had a dream and saw in his dream and Irishman calling out to him to come and evangelize Ireland. When Patrick was around 30 years old he returned to his country of captivity and began to preach the gospel. Multitudes turned out to listen to the message, and although he was violently opposed by the Druids, he became the most fruitful evangelist of all time, planting about 200 churches and baptizing 10,000 converts to Christianity.
Patrick's work endured, and centuries later the Irish Church was still producing hymns, prayers, sermons and songs of worship.
An unknown Irish poet wrote a prayer asking God to be His Vision, His Wisdom, and his Best Thought by day or night. In 1905, Mary Elizabeth Byrne, an Irish scholar, translated this poem into English. Later, another scholar, this one from England, crafted it further into verses with rhyme and meter. Eventually it was set to the music of a traditional Irish folk song, "Slane", named for an area where Patrick reportedly challenged the local Druids with the gospel.
Today it is one of the best known, most loved hymns ever written....

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
Be naught all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light

Be Thou My Wisdom and Thou my true Word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me Lord
Thou my great Father and I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise
Thou mine inheritance now and always
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart
High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art

High king of heaven my victory won
May I reach heaven's joys, bright heaven's sun
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Bob, for the connection between St. Pat & one of my favorite hymns of all time--"Be Thou My Vision". I love when Georgia plays that song at church for the offertory or communion.