Saint Brigid’s cross

Last night I performed my latest song for the audience at Saint Brigid’s parish, Cabinteely.  New Dublin Voices were doing a concert to raise money for a charity called Preda that helps children in the Philippines.  The priest had suggested that it would be nice to have a new hymn composed for the occasion and I took on the challenge.

Saint Brigid's cross

I didn’t know much about Brigid, but quickly discovered that she is patron saint of four main groups: babies, farmers, travellers and a last set to do with creativity and fire.  This last group – comprising blacksmiths, poets, scholars and printing presses – was interesting to me.  Some of the ideas associated with Brigid’s day come from the ancient pagan goddess of the same name.  She was considered a goddess of fire and was thought to manifest herself through poetry (seen as the ‘flame of knowledge’ in ancient Gaelic culture), song and craftsmanship.  Brigid’s day (the first of February) is the first day of Spring in the Irish tradition and Saint Brigid crosses are made.  It would have been common in some households to burn the cross from the previous year in a symbolic act of renewal.

I wanted the song to be for the listeners, an invocation to think about the people, now and through the ages past, for whom Brigid was a source of inspiration and hope.  Consideration, appreciation and love of others is something we can all strive for and practice.  With or without words.

(click on the title to play…)

Saint Brigid’s cross

Burn like a mother’s love
For her newborn child
And its tiny beauty.
Pray – with or without words –
Oh, for the tiny children.

Burn like a farmer’s limbs
When the work is done,
When the day is over.
Pray – with or without words –
Oh, for the farmer working.

And the simple cross
Hanging on the wall
Can remind us all
Of springtime’s promise. (repeat)

Burn like the stars above,
Guiding trav’llers home
From a tiring journey.
Pray – with or without words –
Oh, for their safe return.

Burn like a great idea,
One that thrills the ear
And delights the mind.
Pray – with or without words –
Oh, for the truth to shine.

And the simple cross
Hanging on the wall
Can remind us all
Of springtime’s promise. (repeat)

(lyrics and music © Jonathan Wilson 2009)

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