© Brian Abbott, Geograph. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0. Source

About this picture …

The remains of Finchale Priory some two miles from Durham Abbey as the crow flies, but a rather longer walk for Reginald, Godric’s friend and biographer, along the banks of the winding River Wear. It was on a stone in these waters (and sometimes in the waters themselves) that Godric would stand to pray. The priory behind was built after his death, and ruined in the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation. See ‘English Heritage for an artist’s impression of Godric’s hermitage.

Some Prayers of St Godric

Reginald of Durham (?-?1190) tells us that the Virgin Mary appeared to St Godric and made him learn a prayer so that he could say it ‘whenever he was fearful of being overcome by pain, sorrow, or temptation.’ She promised her immediate help. The second stanza is found in ‘Flowers of History’ by Roger of Wendover (?-1236).

A Prayer To the Blessed Virgin Mary.

SAINT Mary, Virgin,
Mother of Jesus Christ the Nazarene,
Receive, shield, help your Godric,
When received, bring him solemnly
With you into God’s kingdom.

Saint Mary, Christ’s bower,
Maiden’s purity, mother’s flower,
Destroy my sin, reign in my heart,
Bring me to bliss with the very same God.

From Wikipedia.

Another Version.

O HOLY Mary! O Virgin clean,*
Who bore Jesus Christ the Nazarene;
Take thy Godric, be his help and helm:
Bring him in glory* to God’s rich realm.*

O HOLY Mary! Christ’s own bower,*
Maiden’s cleanness, mother’s flower;*
Rid me of sin, and reign in my heart:*
Bring me to bliss, where forever thou art!

* Clane (clean) is found in Roger of Wendover’s version. See ‘Flowers of History’ Vol. 2 by Roger of Wendover (?-1236), ed. J. A. Giles (1808-1884). For Reginald of Durham’s account, see ‘Libellus de vita et miraculis S. Godrici, heremitae de Finchale’ by Reginald of Durham (?-?1190), ed. Joseph Stevenson (1806-1895).

* Different manuscripts have different words here. ‘In glory’ is used for ‘heȝilich’ in Reginald’s text, and ‘heali’ in Roger’s.

* ‘God’s realm’ in Middle English is ‘Godes rich,’ a play on the name Godric. The extra ‘rich’ in this translation is an attempt to keep that wordplay alive.

* A ‘bower’ is an inner room, a private chamber, and thus in this case the womb of Mary. See Psalm 19:4-6, where Christ the Bridegroom is the sun (the ‘sun of righteousness’) going forth as from a bridal chamber and giving light to the whole world.

* There is some dispute among scholars over whether this line refers to Christ or to Mary. In both the Eastern and Western traditions, Mary is the rod of Aaron which budded and brought forth flowers and almonds; but she is also the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valley among the thorns. See Numbers 17:8, Song of Solomon 2:1-2.

* The word given as ‘heart’ here is in the original Middle English ‘mod,’ corresponding to the Greek word ‘nous,’ meaning the purest part of the soul, the inward eye that perceives divine things. Like Latin, modern English does not really have an equivalent. Words such as ‘soul’ and ‘heart’ are better translations than ‘mind,’ because the nous is not a busily imagining, calculating faculty, but a seeing and hearing faculty that thrives on quiet attentiveness.

A Prayer To St Nicholas

O SAINT Nicholas, God’s delight,
Build us a harbour,* fair and bright;
Be at the crib, be at the bier,
To bring us, Saint Nicholas, safely there!*

* Joseph Hall tentatively suggests correcting hus (house) to hyð (hythe, harbour), and notes that the eleventh-century Lambeth Psalter renders ‘ad portum’ (to harbour) as ‘to huþe.’ This would rhyme with druð in line 1 just as well or even better than ‘hus.’ The Sequence Congaudentes exsultemus of the later eleventh-century prays “O beate Nicolae, / Nos ad maris portum trahe!” (O blessed Nicholas, tow us to the harbour of our sea!). See ‘Selections from Middle English’ Vol. 1 by Joseph Hall, with notes in Vol. 2" ); ?>.