Wednesday 26 December 2012

'Thou art the Mother of the Great King' - an Irish night prayer in honour of Our Lady

Below is the text of a beautiful night prayer to Our Lady, which I first posted some years ago. It is such a wonderful text that it deserves a second outing.

A devotional poem, dated c.900 runs:

O Mary, my blessing on thee in every part that thou mayest commend me tonight to thy Son.
O Queen of all the virgins in the wide world, pray for me to thy great good Son that I may be saved.
That thou mayest bring triumph from the world with numerous hosts, bring me to heaven swiftly by thy grace.
By thy birth, by thy glory, come to me; to the house of thy great good Son lead me by the hand.
By the choice that was made of thee over every part, by the Father, faultless worth, by the Son,
By the Holy Spirit who has bestowed every grace on thee, to bring me to heaven, fair the place, be it thy share.
By every angel, by every virgin, by every saint, bring me in the company of the (heavenly) hosts with noble peace.
With my soul, with my body, with my understanding and with my sense, I am under thy protection as long as I may be here.
Mayest thou save me, whether early or late I leave the world, from every danger with numerous hosts, from every attack.
I throw myself on thy breast, on thy knee and on thy cheek, on thy soul, on thy blood, on thy flesh at all times.
Under thy protection may I be here and yonder against every strait, mayest thou be my guard always (until I come) to the King of the stars.
O Mary, hear my cry to holy heaven so that thou mayest be my shelter against the host of base devils.
Except for Christ thou art the one most abounding in grace who has visited the world, thou hast defeated the devil in battle in thy course.
Thou art the vessel in which was the manna, O fair generous one; thou art the shrine in which was for a while the Son of the King of the stars.
Thou art the golden cup in which was the wine which intoxicates and gladdens the host for all eternity.
Thou art the paradise in which was the sweet tree of life; thy Son has taken the hostage of the (human) race, O pleasant Sun.
Thou art the mother of the great King, Son of swift God; thy countenance shines gloriously like the sun.
Mayest thou save me from sin, from the plague of cold hell; let not the demon near me, O radiant sun.
May it be a protection to me to praise thee – blessed is that; whoever practises it rightly, may he have heaven.
The prayer of each strong noble saint to thee: thy prayer along with each to pure Christ:
That I may have the gift of diligent piety always; that I may shine like a star yonder in heaven;
That no demon may come to me when I shall die; that I may not get torment nor plague from the King of the clouds.
May I not part from Christ here nor yonder; the house where is the Son of the King of the stars, may I be there.
The blessing of rich and poor on thy Son; O Mary, my blessing on thee in every part.

Source: B. O Cuiv, 'Some early devotional verse in Irish', Eriu, XIX, 13-17 in P.O'Dwyer O.Carm, Mary – a history of devotion in Ireland (Dublin, 1988), 64-65.

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