Friday, March 17, 2006

The Cardinal's Hymn

No, St. Patrick didn't actually look like this....

On this St. Patrick's Day, a week before the fifth archbishop of Boston in 95 years receives his red hat, it's a good moment to take a thought back to the first of Beantown's ecclesiastical princes: William Cardinal O'Connell, archbishop from 1907 to 1944, who was elevated to the College in 1911.

O'Connell -- or, as a friend says, "his male travel companion, the Music Supervisor for the Boston School system" -- wrote a hymn of his own to the Apostle of Eire. I'm told it was God-awful to the ears, and even the Italian kids had to sing it on Paddy's day, but that's Boston clericalism (or, for that matter, clericalism anywhere else) for you....

Here are the lyrics to the Cardinal's "Hymn in Honor of St. Patrick":
O glorious Saint of Erin whose wondrous work and word
Implanted deep in Irish hearts the faith of Christ the Lord,
O'er all the earth thy children thy sweet protection claim,
And loyally they keep the love of dear Saint Patrick's name.

For centuries thy people have bowed beneath the rod
Of cruel wrong, but never yet have they forsaken God;
For Ireland's faith has never failed and in her darkest night,
Her children brave have kept that Faith and struggled for the right.

The seed which thou hast planted now blooms in ev'ry clime;
Thy tears and pray'rs, Saint Patrick dear, have made its strength sublime:
While other nations bartered their God for pow'r and gold,
The Faith of Erin still remains as loyal as of old!
And again, to everyone everywhere: Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh!