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Celtic Symbolism: "Night and Sleep Blessings"

I found these curious examples of "Night Prayers and Blessings" on the collection of folk poetry from the Western Isles of Scotland: Carmina Gadelica - Hymns and Incantations -Ortha Nan Gaidheal - Volume I -by Alexander Carmichael -[1900] . Carmichael spent years collecting folklore from the vanishing cultures of Scotland. The poems in this volume include prayers, invocations, blessings and charms. English translations are done by the author, and the beautiful initials from the first edition. They are a synthesis of Christian and pre-Christian belief systems. All rights reserved by the author.

THE night prayers of the people are numerous. They are called by various names, as: 'Beannachadh Beinge'--Bench-Blessing, 'Beannachadh Bobhstair'--Bolster Blessing, 'Beannachadh Cluasaig'--Pillow Blessing, 'Beannachadh Cuaiche'--Couch Blessing, 'Coich Chuaiche'--Couch Shrining, 'Altachadh Cadail'--Sleep Prayer; and other terms.

Many of these prayers are become mere fragments and phrases, supplemented by the people according to their wants and wishes at the time.


It is touching and instructive to hear these simple old men and women in their lowly homes addressing, as they say themselves, 'Dia mor nan dui, Athair nan uile bheo,' the great God of life, the Father of all living. They press upon Him their needs and their desires fully and familiarly, but with all the awe and deference due to the Great Chief whom they wish to approach and to attract, and whose forgiveness and aid they would secure. And all this in language so homely yet so eloquent, so simple yet so dignified, that the impressiveness could not be greater in proudest fane.



ACHANAIDH TAIMH [43]

A RESTING PRAYER





D DHE, teasruig an tigh, an teine, ’s an tan,
Gach aon ta gabhail tamh an seo an nochd.
Teasruig mi fein ’s mo chroilean graidh,
Is gleidh sinn bho lamh ’s bho lochd;
Gleidh sinn bho namh an nochd,
Air sgath Mhic Mhuire Mhathar
’S an ait-s ’s gach ait a bheil an tamh an nochd,
Air an oidhche nochd ’s gach aon oidhche,
An oidhche nochd ’s gach aon oidhche.

GOD shield the house, the fire, the kine,
Every one who dwells herein to-night.
Shield myself and my beloved group,
Preserve us from violence and from harm;
Preserve us from foes this night,
For the sake of the Son of the Mary Mother,
In this place, and in every place wherein they dwell to-night,
On this night and on every night,
This night and every night.


BEANNACHD TAIMH [32]

RESTING BLESSING





A AN ainm an Tighearn Iosa,
Agus Spiorad ìocshlain aigh,
An ainm Athar Israil,
Sinim sios gu tamh.
Ma tha musal na dusal,
Na run air bith dhomh ’n dan,
Dhia fuasgail orm is cuartaich orm,
Is fuadaich uam mo namh.
An ainm Athar priseil,
Is Spiorad iocshlain aigh,
An ainm Tighearn Iosa,
Sinim sios gu tamh.
* * * *
Dhia, cobhair mi is cuartaich mi,
O ’n uair ’s gu uair mo bhais.

IN name of the Lord Jesus,
And of the Spirit of healing balm,
In name of the Father of Israel,
I lay me down to rest.
If there be evil threat or quirk,
Or covert act intent on me,
God free me and encompass me,
And drive from me mine enemy.
In name of the Father precious,
And of the Spirit of healing balm,
In name of the Lord Jesus,
I lay me down to rest.
* * * *
God, help me and encompass me,
From this hour till the hour of my death.

BEANNACHADH LEAPA [34]

BED BLESSING





L LAIGHIM sios an nochd mar is coir
An cluanas Chriosda Mac Oigh nan cleachd,
An cluanas Athair aigh na gloir,
An cluanas Spioraid foir nam feart.
Laighim sios an nochd le Dia,
Is laighidh Dia an nochd a sios liom,
Cha laigh mi sios an nochd le olc, ’s cha dean
Ole no fhiamh laighe liom.
Laighim sios an nochd le Spiorad Naomh,
Is laighidh Spiorad Naomh an nochd a sios liom,
Laighim sios le Teoiridh mo chaoimh,
Is laighidh Teoiridh mo chaoimh a sios liom.

I AM lying down to-night as beseems
In the fellowship of Christ, son of the Virgin of ringlets.
In the fellowship of the gracious Father of glory,
In the fellowship of the Spirit of powerful aid.
I am lying down to-night with God,
And God to-night will lie down with me,
I will not lie down to-night with sin, nor shall
Sin nor sin's shadow lie down with me.
I am lying down to-night with the Holy Spirit,
And the Holy Spirit this night will lie down with me,
I will lie down this night with the Three of my love,
And the Three of my love will lie down with me.


AN URNUIGH CHADAIL [35]

THE SLEEP PRAYER





T THA mis a nis a dol dh’ an chadal,
Gu mu slan a dhuisgeas mi;
Ma ’s a bas domh anns a bhas chadail,
Gun ann air do ghairdean fein
A Dhe nan gras a dhuisgeas mi;
O air do ghairdean gradhach fein,
A Dhe nan gras a dhuisgeas mi!
M’ anam air do laimh dheis, a Dhe,
A Re nan neamha neomh;
Is tu fein a cheannaich mi le t’fhuil,
Is tu thug do bheatha air mo shon,
Comraig mis an nochd, a Dhe,
Is na h-eireadh dhomh beud no cron.
Am feadh bhios a cholann a tamh ’s a chadal,
Biodh an t-anam a snamh an sgath nam flathas,
Micheal cra-gheal an dail an anama,
Moch agus amnoch, oidhche agus latha,
Moch agus anmoch, oidhche agus latha.
Amen.

I AM now going into the sleep,
Be it that I in health shall waken;
If death be to me in the death-sleep,
Be it that on Thine own arm,
O God of Grace, I in peace shall waken;
Be it on Thine own beloved arm,
O God of Grace, that I in peace shall waken.
Be my soul on Thy right hand, O God,
Thou King of the heaven of heavens;
Thou it was who bought'st me with Thy blood,
Thou it was who gavest Thy life for me,
Encompass Thou me this night, O God,
That no harm, no evil shall me befall.
Whilst the body is dwelling in the sleep,
The soul is soaring in the shadow of heaven,
Be the red-white Michael meeting the soul,
Early and late, night and day,
Early and late, night and day.
Amen.



URNUIGH CHADAIL [29]

SLEEPING PRAYER





T TA mi cur m’ anama ’s mo chorp
Air do chomaraig a nochd, a Dhe,
Air do chomaraig, Iosa Criosda,
Air do chomaraig, a Spioraid na firinne reidh,
An Triuir a sheasadh mo chuis,
Is nach cuireadh an cul rium fein.
Thus, Athair, tha caomh agus ceart,
Thus, a Mhic, thug air peacadh buaidh,
Thus, a Spioraid Naoimhe nam feart,
Da mo ghleidheadh an nochd o thruaigh;
An Triuir a dheanadh mo cheart
Mo ghleidheadh an nochd ’s gach uair.

I AM placing my soul and my body
On Thy sanctuary this night, O God,
On Thy sanctuary, O Jesus Christ,
On Thy sanctuary, O Spirit of perfect truth,
The Three who would defend my cause,
Nor turn Their backs upon me.
Thou, Father, who art kind and just,
Thou, Son, who didst overcome death,
Thou, Holy Spirit of power,
Be keeping me this night from harm;
The Three who would justify me
Keeping me this night and always.

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