I go out in the name of God

Esther de Waal

I go out in the name of God                       


                              I go out in the name of the Son
                               I am walking in Thy path O God
                              Thou O God upon my doorstep.

                               God before me, God behind me,
                                God over me, God beneath me.
                               God within me,God without me!
                               The God of marvels leading me.

During these recent months of coronavirus, with all its uncertainties and confusions, with a sense of apprehension and of danger hanging over me, I have turned to two things: the saying of the daily office, and the prayers and blessings of the people of the Hebrides. The two have much in common. Here we see a people who pray from dawn until nightfall, from birth to death. Their sense of the presence of God is powerful - a God who supports and protects at every moment of the day, and at every step of life. These men and women felt themselves encircled by the three members of the Trinity:

                      May the encompassing of the Three shield me in my means,
                          The encompassing of the Three shield me this day,
                          The encompassing of the Three shield me this night.
                               From hate, from harm ,from act, from ill.
                               From hate, from harm from act , from ill.     
                The encompassing of God and His right hand
                         Be upon my form and upon my frame,
               The encompassing of the High King and the grace of the Trinity
                        Be upon me abiding every eternally
                         Be upon me abiding eternally.

Prayer was entirely natural and unselfconscious. They lived in a state of prayer dictated by neither liturgy nor lectionary but by the demands of a hard working existence. They asked for the blessing of their daily work: ‘Bless the handling of my hands O God.’ They let the  pattern of daily living become a way to God. So, at the end of the day as they go to bed, they can say:

                                           I lie in my bed
                                      As I would lie in the grave,
                                     Thine arm beneath my neck,
                                     Thou Son of Mary victorious.


It was impossible to think of sleep without thinking of death, and to think of death without thinking of Christ, victorious over death.
God under my Roof Celtic Songs and Blessings has just appeared as a Fairacres
Publication. (£5)