History

College Hymn

Hymn to Saint Brigid

The Hymn to St Brigid, composed in 1932, is our official College hymn. It is sung at the end of Assemblies and large gatherings…most 久久精品 girls since would still remember it once the tune begins!

Archivist’s Notes

I鈥檝e often thought that students and staff might be wondering about the hymn鈥檚 peculiar rhymes. The original hymn had a distinctly Irish feel originally, having been composed for a very different audience. It has been adapted over the years into the version we know now, complete with its lack of rhyme and altered sense.

Alterations, made to modernize the hymn, removed archaisms such as 鈥thee鈥 and 鈥thy鈥, replacing them with 鈥you鈥 and 鈥your鈥. This results in the tenth line ending in 鈥sea鈥 apparently rhyming with 鈥you鈥 in the twelfth. Interestingly, by 1999, most of the archaisms remained, except for the 鈥榓ll your children鈥 at the start of the second verse. This ninth line has undergone the most change over the years. Composed by Mother Cecilia of Goresbridge Convent in Ireland around 1911, for a distinctly more Irish audience, as mentioned earlier, the line originally ran 鈥Sweet, St Brigid, Erin鈥檚 children, far and near, o鈥檈r land and sea鈥. When I first sang the song in the 90s, 鈥Erin鈥檚 children鈥 had become 鈥all your children鈥 and nowadays we sing 鈥all your people鈥, which is indicative of the modern desire to be inclusive of all.

A further change, which alters the rhyme, occurs in the final lines of the hymn, which asks St Brigid to 鈥shield the weary tempted soul鈥. In the original, this rhymes perfectly with the final word 鈥goal鈥. The intent being that our beloved patroness will guide us to 鈥the bright and happy goal鈥 of everlasting joy in Heaven, as my grandmother would have put it.

Another change, replacing the Latin phrase 鈥Sancta Mater鈥 with the English 鈥Sainted mother鈥 in line 5, reflects the diminishing role of Latin in the modern church. A further change in line 4, has St Brigid casting a mother鈥檚 smile instead of turning one in the original version.

The change which irks me most, is the total change of sense made by the modern writer, who, perhaps unknowingly, changed the tense of 鈥Send鈥 in line 8 to 鈥Sent鈥. (More than a change of tense it is a change from Imperative mood to an Indicative past participle). This section is pleading to Brigid to send 鈥faith and hope and holy love鈥 to us from where she is in Heaven above. The modern version implies that 鈥Sweet Saint Brigid, Spouse of Jesus鈥 was sent to us from Heaven above, which I do not believe was the author鈥檚 intention.

Damian Smith
Archivist

Hymn Lyrics

Far above enthroned in glory,
Sweetest saint of Erin鈥檚 isle,
See your people here before you,
Cast us on a mother鈥檚 smile.

Sainted mother, hear our pleading,
Faith and hope and holy love,
Sweet St Brigid, spouse of Jesus,
Sent to us from heav鈥檔 above.


Sweet St Brigid, all your people,
Far and near, o鈥檈r land and sea,
鈥楳id the world and in the cloister,
Fondly turn with love to you.

Sainted mother, soothe the mourner,
Shield the weary tempted soul,
Sweet St Brigid, guide your people,
To your bright and happy home.

Sainted mother, soothe the mourner,
Shield the weary tempted soul,
Sweet St Brigid, guide your people,
To your bright and happy home.