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Monday, June 12, 2006 

I Bind Unto Myself Today

For Trinity Sunday we sang the hymn I Bind Unto Myself Today that is attributed to Saint Patrick (372-466) and sung to the tune St. Patrick’s Breastplate. This hymn is a beautiful Trinitarian hymn that confesses the three persons of the trinity, that is to say God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. I’ll take a closer look at the Trinity later in the week with an examination of the Quicunque Vult.

The Gospel reading for the day is taken from the Gospel according to St. John 3:1-17
There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit." Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Here in this Gospel reading we have the Trinity. In the text there is God the Father who gives us His only begotten Son. We are told of God the Spirit who by grace gives us saving faith. And we have the Son, that just as the bronze serpent that was lifted up by Moses to heal Israel, will be lifted up on the cross as our propitiation, our atoning sacrifice.

St. Patrick confess the entire Gospel story in the second verse of the hymn. Without the incarnate Lord of the first line we are lost to sin. Since Christ’s baptism is our baptism we would lost to sin without it as well. Since Christ death on the cross is our death and since his rising from the tomb is our resurrection, St Patrick is confessing his absolute faith in God’s word. For if we couldn’t believe Scripture means what it says we would rightly be brought to the state of despair under the crushing weight of the Law! The Gospel give us the freedom to look to Christ for our salvation as the One who has done it all for us poor miserable sinners. And just as St. Patrick binds unto himself the good news of the Gospel, so should we daily with confidence!

My only “issue” with our opening hymn is my own difficulty in singing it. One would expect a cantor like myself to read music with little difficulty, and that would be a mistake! Chanting the Introit (the psalm of the day) back and forth with the congregation is quite a bit different than following the musical notes of what I consider a difficult hymn. That being said, I love this hymn for the doctrine it confesses; we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity. It is for this reason that I look forward to singing it again.

I Bind unto Myself Today Text: attr. Saint Patrick para. Cecil F. Alexander 1823- 95

I bind unto myself today
The strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same,
The three in One and One in Three

I bind this day to me forever
By pow’r of faith, Christ’s incarnation,
His baptism in the Jordan River,
His cross of death for my salvation,
His bursting forth from the spiced tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today

I bind unto myself the name
The strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three
Of whom all nature has creation
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word
Praise to the Lord of my salvation:
Salvation is of Christ the Lord

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