The Deer’s Cry

The verses of  “Deer’s Cry” are also known as ‘St. Patrick’s Hymn” or “St. Patrick’s Breastplate,”

It is believed that St. Patrick wrote it in c433 A.D. for divine protection before successfully converting the Irish King Leoghaire and his subjects from paganism to Christianity.

The illuminated illustrations by Knox were not commissioned but were a personal and spiritual exercise which he worked on for over 20 years, and they were not completed by the time of his sudden death in 1933.

The links shown on this website will take you to each page of the bound volume in the Manx Museum and will also show you how to buy very high quality images of each page in different media.
deer

In 1983, as part of the 50th anniversary of Knox’s death, the Manx Museum and National Trust published a booklet with some of the pages from The Deer’s Cry. On page 3 the following is written:

“The illuminated pages were presented to the Museum in 1957, in the name of Winifred Tuckfield on behalf of the Knox Guild, by Miss Tuckfield’s husband, Mr. H. Broun-Morison of Brighton, through the good offices of Mr. A. C. Quayle. The original sheets have, as requested by the donor, been bound into a volume, and form a major exhibition of the Manx Museum’s important collection of the work of the artist.”

What a priceless gift to the Manx nation! Miss Tuckfield had been one of Knox’s students who helped set up the Knox Guild in 1912 when Knox left his teaching post and all his students left with him. She also wrote a remarkable article in the “Mannin” magazine in 1916 saying that a gallery for Knox’s work should be built in the centre of the Isle of Man for future generations to see and learn from.

Please see the post on this Facebook page dated 26th June which gives information about The Deer’s Cry illustrations at the Manx Museum 

The directors of The Archibald Knox Forum would encourage anybody to see the work at first hand, marvel at the complexity, simplicity, beauty and other worldliness of this National Treasure and although it was produced by Archibald Knox it is the “work of angels.”

The Deer’s Cry has been translated from the Old Irish in various ways and a translation into English is given below.

However, before the translation I have given a summary of the layout of the verses.

Each verse of the prayer begins “Atomruig indiu” “I arise today” or “I bind unto myself today” and this phrase is repeated at the beginning of most of the verses.

This is followed by a list of sources of strength that the prayer calls on for support:

The first verse invokes the Chritian doctrine of the Trinity.
The second verse invokes Christ’s baptism, death, resurrection, ascension and future return on the last day.
The third verse invokes the angels, patriarchs, saints and martyrs.
The fourth verse the natural world: the sun, moon, fire, lightning etc.
The fifth verse invokes various aspects of God – his wisdom, his eye, his ear, his hand.
The sixth verse lists the things against which protection is required – against snares of devils, temptations of nature, those who wish ill.

This list of things against which protection is required continues in the next verse – false prophets, heathens, heretics, women, druids (druad), smiths (gobann).

The next verse calls for Christ to be in all things – Christ in me, all around me, in the eye and ear and mouth of the people I meet.
the last verse returns to the theme of the Trinity.

Knox’s translation is different to the literal Old Irish one but the overall meaning and call for protection remains intact.

The literal translation from the Old Irish is shown below.

“I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.
I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.
I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.
I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.
I bind to myself today
God’s Power to guide me,
God’s Might to uphold me,
God’s Wisdom to teach me,
God’s Eye to watch over me,
God’s Ear to hear me,
God’s Word to give me speech,
God’s Hand to guide me,
God’s Way to lie before me,
God’s Shield to shelter me,
God’s Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.
I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.
Christ, protect me today
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the poop [deck],
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.”

Images courtesy of Manx National Heritage via the link at imusuem.im