Irish blessing for frontline workers unites religious communities

Irish blessing for frontline workers unites religious communities

More than 300 Christian congregations across the island of Ireland have come together to record an ancient blessing of protection for frontline workers. The Irish Blessing was released on YouTube and has more than 300,000 views.

Fr Martin Magill, of St John’s parish Belfast, was one of the organisers of the video and says he’s “delighted” with the result.

“We’re really surprised by the huge response, we’re absolutely delighted, we’ve really appreciated the encouragement we’ve got,” he said.

“There was an enormous amount of planning, I won’t deny that,” he added. “We had over 400 contributions from across the island of Ireland, from Antrim to Cork.”

The blessing is part of an international series which began in the US.

For the Irish version of the project, the hymn Be Thou My Vision was recorded by congregations across Ireland, as well as a setting of St Patrick’s Breastplate.

The blessing was dedicated to frontline workers, from doctors and nurses to cleaners explains Fr Magill.

“More than anything else, this would be a way of encouraging the churches to pray a blessing together for those on the frontlines,” said Fr Magill. “So obviously the healthcare workers, but also for people in shops, people who empty our bins and clean our hospitals.

“We were keen that the churches would be praying a blessing on all these people. We asked all participants to dedicate their recording to a particular facility, and you can see that on our website.”

The video concludes with the Aaronic blessing, spoken in a variety of languages including Irish, Ulsters Scots, Hebrew and Arabic.

“We also had a late submission from the Greek Orthodox that’s sung, absolutely beautiful, but it was too late to use it,” said Fr Magill. “Hopefully, their version and others will be put up on our website,”