Music to End Trinity Sunday, 30 May 2021
On this Trinity Sunday, we begin with an improvisation on the wonderful Irish tune ‘St Patrick’ commonly used for the hymn
‘I bind into myself today the strong name of the Trinity’ (St Patrick’s Breastplate). The melody appears in the ‘Petrie Collection’ of Irish music, edited by Stanford in 1903.
Now we will hear St Patrick’s Prayer, sung to the Irish tune. The Prayer dates back to the 5th Century. It appears in fragmentary form in a 9th Century manuscript, and in a more complete version in the ‘Liber Hymnosum’, an 11th Century manuscript found in Dublin. This manuscript reveals the origins of the Prayer:
St Patrick sang this when an ambush was laid against his coming by Loegaire, that he might not go to Tara to sow the faith. And then it appeared before those lying in ambush that St Patrick and his monks were wild deer, with a faun following them.
Later sources sometimes refer to this prayer as ‘The Deer’s Cry’.
The most intimate part of the prayer, ‘Christ be with me, Christ within me’ is sung to a gentler tune in the major key – Gartan – from the same Petrie Collection.
Some years ago, our choir was invited to take part in a special broadcast for Trinity Sunday on the BBC World Service. For this occasion, I composed a new setting of words from St John’s Gospel, chapter 17. In this wonderful passage, Jesus tries to explain to his disciples how it will be when he is no longer with them. To be ‘in the world’ and yet not ‘of the world’ is a tough balancing act, but it is one which we must take seriously if we are to be true to God who became incarnate. Real discipleship does not mean finding a comfortable middle way; it means responding to the demands of being God’s holy people in the midst of a world that so needs to know its creator and redeemer.
To bring our music to a tranquil close, Louise plays a gentle movement from Telemann’s Viola Concerto in G. This is almost certainly the first concerto to be written for the viola. It was completed around 1717/18.
Finally, a Prayer for Trinity Sunday:
You sent your Word to bring us truth, and your Spirit to make us holy.
Through them we come to know the mystery of your life.
Help us to worship you, one God in three persons.
You reveal yourself in the depths of our being
by proclaiming and living our faith in you.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end.
Good night, everyone.