St. Patrick’s Day means . . . I’ll point my readers to St. Patrick’s Breastplate. Last year’s article, with the full text By Scott Wells Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C. View all of Scott Wells's posts.
Growing up in the shadow of the Washington Cathedral, I remember services where the Breastplate was sung by the Choir of Men and Boys as a processional. It was staged so very precisely that just as the procession reached the (architectural, not musical) choir,and filed into their seats, the ponderous “binding” verses ceased and the high organ pipes continued with the boy trebles and altos alone warbling:
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.
Don’t I wish we UUs could pull off something as ceremonial as that as seamlessly as that once in a while! It was enough to send shivers down the spine of even a christological Unitarian.
I don’t wonder if singing traditional Unitarian hymns (the Universalists only produced a handful), in all four parts, and demanding a certain tightness of liturgical production — which a lot of ministers I know would like, and others are indifferent to — would go a long way to that chilling/thrilling experience of worship.