“I Bind Unto Myself Today”

A Lenten devotional based on the eponymous hymn

Welcome to the season of Lent, a 40-period that prepares us for the events of Holy Week and the season of Easter. “Lent” is a word that comes from an Old English word for “spring”—like the season, not like Tigger—but it reminds me of the Latin meaning of the root too—“slow.” In the northern hemisphere, we experience Lent as a time when greenness and growth return to the world. But nature’s progress, like our own, is incremental. The world changes slowly, just a tiny bit each day. And throughout this season, God invites us to do the same through intentional focus on prayer, fasting, and charity.

This devotional is meant to offer inspiration and gentle nudging on this Lenten journey. The anchor is an ancient hymn, “I Bind Unto Myself Today,” written by St. Patrick, the 4th century saint, whose March 17th feast day happens to fall during Lent. Each verse of the hymn offers a focal point for a corresponding week of Lent, and inspires the weekly suggestions for ways to pray, things from which to fast, and how we might give. Here’s sheet music for the hymn, courtesy of the ELCA Worship Blog.

Read on to learn how to use this devotional, and for electronic access to the entire thing. If you prefer to print it out, the PDF edition is just here:

How to use this devotional

This devotional offers inspiration for the Lenten journey, exploring an ancient hymn, “I Bind Unto Myself Today,” written by St. Patrick. Each verse of the hymn offers a focus for a week of Lent, and inspires ways to pray, things from which to fast, and how we might give.

Ash Wednesday

Before we start using the hymn itself as our devotional piece on Sunday, a little background knowledge on it that will enrich your encounter. A Lenten examen will invite you to think about this Lenten road and how you want to walk it.

First week of Lent

One of the marvels of the Trinity is how God is fundamentally about relationship, so much so that God is in relationship with God’s own self: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Second Week of Lent

In the second chapter of Acts, a Spirit-filled Peter stands before the crowd and delivers a scintillating summary of the Christian faith. On this week when the hymn leads us to focus on the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, the traditional Jesus Prayer can provide an answer to the question Peter stirred up in his listeners: “What shall we do?”

Third Week of Lent

This week, the hymn sings of the splendor of creation, and our scripture reminds Job and us that God’s fingerprints are on everything we see.

Fourth week of Lent

Use meditation as a time to become aware of God’s presence. Find a quiet spot, set a timer for five minutes (or more), close your eyes, and pay attention to your breath. Remember that God is as close to you as the air in your lungs.

Fifth week of Lent

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.

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