St. Patrick’s Day and Celtic Christian Resources

What does your congregation do for Saint Patrick's Day? Do you add shamrocks to the sanctuary floral arrangements? encourage folks to wear green? plan or participate in a parade or Irish/Celtic heritage celebration?

And what is a United Methodist congregation to do with this day anyway, since we don't currently have an official "sanctoral cycle"1 or a means to "canonize"2 people as "saints"?

Here are a few suggestions that we have collected here in Nashville. You may be aware of others, and we invite you to send additional suggestions or links to resources to us at [email protected].

Print Resources:

  • For All the Saints from OSL Publications ( This resource provides a sanctoral cycle that includes significant people from Christian and Methodist history and includes St. Patrick on March 17.
  • The United Methodist Book of Worship includes a prayer attributed to St. Patrick (529).
  • Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saintsis the official sanctoral cycle and set of readings and prayers for all minor feast and fast days of the Christian year as used in the Episcopal Church USA.

Musical Resources:

  • The Faith We Sing includes a musical setting of a prayer attributed to St. Patrick (2166, "Christ Beside Me," set to Bunessan, a traditional Gaelic tune most commonly known as the setting for "Morning Has Broken")
  • "I Bind unto Myself This Day" is a hymn setting of an extended version of a prayer attributed to Patrick and is in the public domain. You may hear and download it from the Cyber Hymnal at This hymn is widely used at ordination and baptism services in a variety of Christian denominations.

Liturgical and Other Online Resources:

  • The Stowe or Lorrha Missal-- This is an ancient Celtic version of the liturgy for Word and Table that dates from the SIXth to the eighth centuries and is believed by some to have its origins in the ministry of St. Patrick. The definitive modern English translation of this text (it appears in its oldest originals in Latin) may be found on the website of the Celtic Orthodox Church at
  • "The Confessions of St. Patrick" is the story of Patrick's ministry, alleged to be in his own words. A good English translation is available from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library at
  • Finally, there are many "Celtic Christianity" resources and webrings of varying quality available on the Internet. One of the more reputable starting places to locate some of these is "Stuart's Page" on the Celtic Christianity webring at

1 A sanctoral cycle is a plan of prayer and worship to commemorate certain people on certain days of the calendar year. Generally speaking, a sanctoral cycle of prayer or worship is not intended- or permitted by churches that use one- to supplant the regular Sunday cycle or the major feast days of the Christian year. So if St. Patrick's Day were to fall on a Sunday, worship planners should plan to use the lectionary readings for the given Sunday, usually a Sunday in Lent (color: purple), rather than any special readings for their principle Sunday service for the day).

2 "Canonization" refers to the "canons" (rules, policies) that govern the process of including a person in the official sanctoral cycle of a Christian church. Since United Methodists do not have an official sanctoral cycle, we also have no official rules for determining who might be included in one. The rules used to develop the cycle in (For All the Saints involved ensuring the historical accuracy of the accounts, the clarity that the people showed profound evidence of loving God and neighbor, and evidence that their lives were of a character that should commend them to imitation by Christians today.

Copyright © 2006 Discipleship Ministries.

Categories: Lectionary Calendar, Civil Observances, St. Patricks Day, Occasional Rites, Other