Last year I came across a traditional Irish hymn to Brigid, Gabhaim Molta Bríde. Struck by its haunting tune, taut metaphors, and the precision and restraint of its lyrics, I sat down with a prose translation and an Irish dictionary to work up English words that would fit the tune while remaining as true as possible to the original text.
The song was first collected in the 19th century. How old it may be is impossible to say. But reading M. L. West's magisterial Indo-European Poetry and Myth, I cannot fail to be impressed by just how faithfully this hymn preserves the characteristics of ancient Indo-European hymnody. In style and content, Song of Brigid compares with the hymns of the Rig-Veda.
It delights me that the song applies as well to goddess as to saint. One can hardly help but admire a hymn that can be sung by pagan and Christian alike.