Parish of Guardian Angel / St. Columba

Columicille's Boat Song

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St. Columba (ca. 543-615) was the founder of the monastery of Bobbio in northern Italy. His "Boat Song" captures the mood of adventure and robust faith that animated the Irish monks.


Cut in the forests, swept down the two-horned Rhine, 
Our keel, tight-caulked, now floats upon the sea. 
Heia, men! Let the echoes resound with our heia! 

The wild gusts swell, the slashing torrents fall, 
But manly strength has force to tame the storm. 
Heia, men! Let the echoes resound with our heia! 

To earnest effort, clouds and tempest yield; 
Zeal and unceasing labor conquer all. 
Heia, men! Let the echoes resound with our heia! 

Endure and save yourselves for better things; 
0 you who have suffered worse, this too shall end. 
Heia, men! Let the echoes resound with our heia! 

So when the loathsome foe assaults our hearts, 
Tempting and shaking the depths of our hearts with passion, 
Let your souls, men, remembering Christ, cry heia! 

In resolution fixed, scorn Satan's wiles. 
By virtues armed, defend yourselves with valor. 
Let your souls, men, remembering Christ, cry heia! 

Firm faith and holy ardor conquer all. 
The ancient fiend, defeated, breaks his arrows. 
Let your souls, men, remembering Christ, cry heia! 

The Source of Good and Being, the Highest Power, 
Offers the warrior and gives the victor prizes. 
Let your souls, men, remembering Christ, cry heia!




Brian Tierney, The Middle Ages, Volume I: Sources of Medieval History, 5th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1992), p. 72 [with no copyright information given]


This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

"A Book of Saints and Wonders" by 
Lady Gregory, 1906, artist unknown


The following links provide an in-depth look at the life of St. Columba.

        521-561
        Iona
        Influence, & attitude
Columicille's Boat Song
        Columcille's Poem