01 February 2013

Feast of St Brigid, the first day of spring in Ireland. And elsewhere? 'It might as well be spring!'

St Brigid  (c.451 - 525), St Non's Chapel, St David's, Wales

Today is observed in Ireland as Lá Fhéile Bhríde, the Feast of St Brigid of Kildare. She is one of the patrons of Ireland and is often referred to as 'Muire na nGael' or 'Mary of the Irish'.

You can find some prayers and resources for celebrating the Feast of St Brigid, including a video on how to make a St Brigid's Cross, on the website of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin in Ireland.

Cros BrídeSt Brigid's Cross


Merciful God,
origin and reward of all charity, 
you called Saint Brigid to teach the new commandment of love 
through her life of hospitality and her care of the needy; 
give to your people, by her intercession, 
a generous spirit, 
so that, with hearts made pure, 
we may show your love to all.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, 
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, for ever and ever.

The first day of spring

According to the ancient Irish reckoning today, 1 February, is the first day of spring in the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. In most places in those regions 21 March, the equinox, is considered the first day of that season of new growth and hope. Even after more than 41 years in the tropical Philippines the four seasons that I grew up with are still 'in my bones' and I always get a 'lift' when St Brigid's Day comes around. The very cold weather, at least in Ireland, is usually over and the days are growing longer.

The stained glass image of St Brigid above is in a chapel in the southwest of Wales, a country that you can see from parts of the east coast of Ireland on a clear day. In the video below is a singer from a tiny hamlet in the northwest of Wales, Bryn Terfel, with my wish for you whether or not you live in the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere or elsewhere, whether or not you consider 1 February or 21 March as the first day of spring. Well, It might as well be spring! 

I don't know of a better version of this classic, a combination of the clever lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II and the tuneful music of Richard Rodgers.


Crux Fidelis said...

I prefer the Peggy Lee version.

Fr Seán Coyle said...

Thanks, Crux. Congratulations to St Mirren on beating Celtic in the semi-final of the Scottish Communities League Cup! Good luck in the final!

Yes, Peggy Lee's recording is probably the best around - except for her irritating replacement of 'Darby and Joan', a term that has been around for centuries, with 'Baby and Joe'. She continued to use 'Baby and Joe', as various YouTube videos of her in concert show.

Oscar Hammerstein II was a superb lyric writer.

Crux Fidelis said...

Father, I am a Celtic fan as were my father and grandfather before me. We also have drawn St Mirren in the quarter final of the SFA Cup. Defeat this time round would be unthinkable.

Fr Seán Coyle said...

My comment above was about Peggy Lee's version of 'The Folks Who Live on the Hill', Michael Holliday's version of which I posted on Sunday Reflections for last Sunday. I can't locate a recording of 'It Might as Well be Spring' by Peggy Lee that I can listen to. [Her recording of the song is online but I can't download it]. So I can't comment on her version of the song compared to that of Bryn Terfel. But a good song usually gets a number of good recordings. And I can also say about 'It Might as Well be Spring' that 'Oscar Hammerstein was a superb lyric writer'. God belss.

Your comment about the 'unthinkable' reminds me of the time the Irish rugby team had an audience with Blessed John Paul in the Vatican before they played Italy. They asked him if he'd say a prayer that they'd win. He replied, 'I love the Irish - but I have to live here in Italy!'