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BRIEF HISTORY – BANGOR IRELAND 24 HOUR PRAYER AND PRAISE
Dec 13, 2006
I have posted this before a while ago – it will shortly be a small book.- But meanwhile here is a short hisory of Bangor Monastory in Ireland which had almost 200 years of 24 hours prayer and praise – they surely “prayed (and praised) without ceasing for nearly 200 years
BANGOR – LIGHT OF THE WORLD-
So widely had its branches extended through Ireland and Scotland that those times appear to have been especially foreshadowed in the verses of David: ‘You visited the earth and watered it; You greatly enrich it: the river of God is full of water:…. You water the ridges thereof abundantly; You make it soft with showers: You bless the springing thereof.'”
Bernard of Clairvaux wrote of Bangor in the 12th century:
“A place it was, truly sacred, the nursery of saints who brought forth fruit most abundantly to the glory of God…..
Please refer to Author for permission to reproduce or store any of this transcript. Please do not copy without permission. Thank you.
Kathiewalters@mindspring.com Published by Good news Ministries, 220 Sleepy Creek Rd Macon GA 31219
BANGOR – LIGHT OF THE WORLD
If you are involved in IHOP or other of the 24 hour ministry prayer centers, you might be interested in this historical background. Www.goodnews.netministries.org/kathie.htm
The Bangor Monastery in Ireland, under Abbot Comgall preached the gospel with miracles, signs and wonders, raised the dead often, taught 4,000 monks – many of whom took the Gospel message ( and demonstrated it) into Europe.
Bangor monastery had a high choir who sang and prayed night and day for 24 hours a day for approx 200 years.
1000 of the monks made up the high choir which were divided into three and rotated – continuous prayer and praise. Here is some historical background –
Patrick and his companions came upon a valley in County Down, Ireland.
It is said that they, “Beheld a valley flooded with a heavenly light, and with a multitude of the host of heaven they heard, as it chanted forth from the voices of angels, the psalmody of the celestial choir.” Patrick called it the “Vallis Angelorum” – “Valley of Angels.”
In this place, at a later time, a famous monastery was buil t, whose “High Choir” celebrated continual praise to God, the like of which the world has never seen or heard.
There is a fragment of the precious ancient liturgy remaining in the Ambrosian library of Milan in Italy.
Bangor Monastery was founded by a dedicated and powerful Abbot, Comgall, in 555 AD.
Patrick had prophesied of Comgall’s birth and the foundation of the abbey at Bangor, 60 years previously.
Another Bishop, Macniseus, of Conner also prophesied the night before Abbot Comgall’s birth, ” He will be adorned with all virtues, and the world will be illuminated by the luster of his miracles. Not only will many thousands follow him, but many princes.”
The prophesies of both Patrick and Macniseus came to pass in detail. Bangor was respected througho ut Europe as a great center of learning and a place of great light. The power of God was demonstrated in mighty ways through the ministry and boldness of Comgall. Signs and wonders were a part of his ministry even while he was a student under the famous Abbot Fintan.
Abbott Comgall – raised the dead many times
One time one of the monks from Bangor went to visit a monastery in another part of the country, and while he was there, he died. Comgall ordered his body to be brought back to Bangor. When it arrived, Comgall prayed for him and he was restored to life. The monk told the other brothers what had happened after his departure from this life. “I was brought towards heaven by two angels sent by God, and while on our way, other angels came to meet us saying, “Bear this soul back to his body, for Comgall, God’s servant, has requested it. Therefore bear it back to Comgall, with whom the monk will live to an old age .”
Another time, a company of brethren, led by Columba of Iona, came by boat to visit Comgall. During the crossing one of the monks died. When they arrived at the mouth of the river, Inver Beg, they were greeted and escorted to the monastery. Comgall washed their feet and asked if anyone was left on the boat. Columba said that there was one remaining, but that he would not be able to come unless Comgall himself went to fetch him. Comgall went at once to the boat to fetch the monk. When he arrived he found the dead monk. He was astonished, but he took to prayer at once. “In the Name of Jesus Christ arise, and hasten with me to your brothers.” The monk arose and accompanied Comgall to the monastery. Then Comgall noticed that he had lost his sight in one eye. He declared that no monk should labor under such a defect and he bathed the man’s eye. His sight was restored and he could see extremely well all the days of his life.
3000 Students at Bangor
The dead were raised, the sick healed and gospel preached with power across all of Ireland and Europe. There were so many monks desirous of being a part of Bangor that 3,000 students were taught at Bangor and its surrounding community. Truly Comgall was a wonderful example of Christian piety, dedication, servant-hood and power. He demonstrated the Gospel with great authority and won the respect of the Kings and rulers.
An old man, an Anchorite named Critan, once visited Comgall during the Easter Festival. During the Easter service Critan saw a bright vision of angels. They touched the hands and mouth and the head of Comgall and joined in his benediction. Critan was very thirsty from fasting, and wanted in his heart to drink from the same cup as Comgall. Although nothing was said, the prophetic gift in Comgall was stirred and he knew the desire of Critan. After the service Comgall entered his cell and took some wine . He then called a servant named Segenus and sent him with the wine to Critan saying, “Bear this wine to the holy man, Critan, who is now very thirsty, and let him drink from my cup, with thanks to God. Tell him from me, “You are a patient and faithful man.”
Another Young Boy Raised from the dead.
One day after a journey, Comgall returned to his monastery and found that a young boy had died during his absence. Approaching the body he prayed and the boy was instantly restored to life. He asked the boy, “Do you desire, my son, to remain in this life?” The boy declared that he would rather go to be with the Lord in heaven, and Comgall imparted a blessing, and the boy peacefully yielded his spirit back to God.
A prince who was a great sinner came to the gates of the monastery with an offering of silver, but Comgall sent it back to him with a message saying, “Why do you wish to discharge your iniquities upon us? Bear your own crimes and fruits.”
The Tue Vine which came out of Egypt
Their revelation and monastic system was inherited from the Desert Fathers in Egypt in the 2nd century.. Anthony being the most famous of the desert monastics. The Desert Fathers saw their ministry as “Gatekeepers of the nations.” They lived and fought a spiritual warfare in the realm of the spirit that today we know very little about. The Irish Celtic Christian Fathers, including Comgall, were very insistent that their spiritual inheritance was from “The true vine which came out of Egypt.”
The High Choirs
Part of the fulfilment of Patrick’s prophesy was the famous “High Choirs” which sang at Bangor Mor. Their strength came from the from of worship which they inherited originally from the early temple worship and later via the Desert Fathers.
According to the scriptures, some kind of devotional worship was maintained both day and night for we read that singers as well as the Levites had their lodging in the temple house because they were employed in their work “both day and night.” There is also a reference to the Perennial Praise of the temple in Isaiah 30:29, “Your song will then sound in the night when the feast is celebrated. And at the change of watch, “Bless the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord.”
The Perennial Praise was observed strictly by the Essenes ( Community of the Righteous) 200BC-200AD. The Rule, “Let the many keep awake in community a third, all the nights of the year in order to read aloud form the Book a nd to expound judgment and to sing blessings altogether.”
And so during the night as two thirds of their number slept in their tents the other one third kept up their continual chants of hymns and psalms. As the Laus Perennis constituted the old dispensation, so the Bangor Antiphonary constituted the new.
The Apostle of Gaul
One of the reluctant soldiers of Constantine was a Hungarian named Martin. Martin became converted and eventually became the Apostle for Gaul. He was familiar with the monastic ideals of Anthony. He established a monastery or “White House” in Marmoutiers, and it was through him that the Laus Perennis was established in Briton.
The monasteries established in Ireland in the 4th -6th centuries were powerful forces to be reckoned with. Like our modern day Bible colleges, they trained and tau ght thousands of converts who went over the whole world preaching and praying and winning cities and towns to God. Their philosophy of winning the kings and princes to the Lord worked as many were won to the cause of Christ. Consequently the people followed.
Patrick for example, won Dublin to the Lord by raising the kings two children from the dead. Brigid, Cuthbert, Brendan, Keiran, Columba, Patrick, Comgall and many others trained thousands of young men and women, who went far and wide preaching the gospel and demonstrating the power of God to the heathen and the Druids. Open confrontations with the Druids were not uncommon ( See my books Celtic Flames and Columba the Celtic Dove“.
“High Choir” of Bangor was a light over Ireland.
Day and night they sang psalms and praises continually watching and p raising the God of their salvation. They released the power of God upon the land.
Bernard of Clairvaux wrote of Bangor – Light of the world, in the 12th century:
“A place it was, truly sacred, the nursery of saints who brought forth fruit most abundantly to the glory of God, insomuch that one of the sons of that holy congregation, Molua by name, is alone reputed to have been the founder of over a hundred monasteries: which I mention for this reason, that the reader may, from this single instance, form a conception of the number to which the community amounted. So widely had its branches extended through Ireland and Scotland that those times appear to have been especially foreshadowed in the verses of David: ‘You visited the earth and watered it; Yout greatly enrichest it: the river of God is full of water:…. You watere the ridges thereof abundantly; You makes it soft with showers: You blessed the springing thereof.'”
Nor was it only into the countries I have mentioned but even into distant lands that crowds of saints, ( from Bangor) like an inundation, poured forth. One of whom, Columbanus, penetrating into these regions of France, built the monastery of Luxeuil, and there became a great multitude. So great do they say it was that the holy continual praise was kept up by companies, who relieved each other in succession so that not for one moment day or night, was there an intermission of their devotions.”
Columbanus was born in Leinster in 543. He was educated in the islands of Lough Erne. Columbanus was highly educated – a scholar, later becoming an Apostle to Switzerland, France and Northern Ital y. He was given the greatest missionary commission and was sent from Bangor to Europe with 12 companions and from references from Columbanus own letters the names of most of them were recorded. Gall, who became almost as famous as Columbanus, Domgal, who acted as Columbanus minister; Cummian, Eunocus, Columbanus (the younger), Equonanus, High and Libranus. Probably Anglos-Saxons Deicola and Caldwald and Leobard were also included. The Bangor monastery was very international and after spending a little Time in Britain, they eventually arrived in Burgundy, in Gaul in 590
The early Celtic Christians exercised a great authority over the elements and the animals. It is told of Columbanus that one day as he walked and meditated in the woods, he was suddenly surrounded by several wolves- but he stood motionless and quoted “Deus in adjutorium.” The wolves touched his garments and turned away. Crowds came to hear the Irish preacher and the great foundations of Luxeuil a nd Fontaines were laid under his great ministry.
For 20 years many hundreds of the children of the nobles of the Franks and Burundians were taught and discipled by him.
Columbanus opposed the Queen
Columbanus opposed the Queen regent of Burgundy, Brunehault. She presented Columbanus with the four sons of King Thierry ( her grandson). They were sons of his concubines, and she asked Columbanus to bless them. He refused! Brunehault from that moment declared that she would see to it that Columbanus work came to an end.
At the same time, Columbanus stood his ground with regard to the Celtic tonsure and the Celtic celebration of Easter. Both were very sacred to the Celtic Fathers. The Gallic bishops followed the customs of Rome in both respects and strove to reduce the fearless Irishman to conform to their own pract ices.
Discrepancy with Rome
Columbanus not only refused, but sent a long epistle to the bishops in synod. ” I am not the author of this difference; I have come into these parts, a poor stranger, for the cause of Christ, the Savior. I ask of your holiness but a single grace: that you will permit me to live in silence in these forests, near the bones of the 17 brethren I have seen die. Oh, let us live with you in this land where we are now, since we are destined to live with each other in heaven. I dare not go to you for fear of entering into some contention with you; but I confess to you the secrets of my conscious, and how I believe above all, in the tradition of my country, which is besides that of Jerome.”
Columbanus soon had to pay the penalty of his bravery. His monastery was regularly boycotted. The inhabitants were fo rbidden to have any dealings with him. He was arrested and confined to Besancon, from where he soon escaped to Luxiel.
An officer and detachment of soldiers were sent to arrest him. They found him in church chanting the service. “Man of God, we pray you to obey the King’s orders, and to return from whence you came.” “No,” answered Columbanus, “I cannot think that having left my country for the service of Jesus Christ, that my creator wished me to return.” He was arrested and had to leave his beloved Luxeuil. He was hurried across France and put on a ship bound for Ireland. But though man proposes – God disposes – and the ship was flung back upon the sands of the mouth of the Loire. The captain believed that somehow Columbanus was an unlucky passenger and landed him at the nearest shore.
Columbanus quarelled with Brunehault and Thierry kept him out of the greater part of F rance and so he set his heart to bring the Gospel to Northern Italy, which was already filled with the Arian heresy* (* the Arians were disciples of Arius, a theologian who came to prominence in 318, He taught that Jesus being a son was not eternal and did not exist before his natural birth. His theology was refuted by the church at the council of Nicaea in 325).
Columbanus took refuge with Clotaire 11, son of Fredegund, but his heart was really set on Italy. He finally went by way of the Rhine river and landed at the mouth of the Lake Constance. He stayed and preached and taught and established the monasteries of Reichenau and St. Gall, which to this day is one of the richest repositories of Irish MSS and Irish literature in Europe.
Gall was a companion of Columbanus. In preaching the gospel to the Swiss, Columbanus often broke the boilers in which they prepared beer and offered a sacrifice to Woden.
At times he burned their temples and broke their images. Of course, such behavior provoked opposition. Columbanus was driven out of place to place and was refused food by local inhabitants. But such sturdy missionaries were not daunted by such behavior.
The demon of the mountain and demon of the lake.
They continued to erect their huts and plant their gardens. Columbanus made nets and Gall, the learned and eloquent preacher, flung them into the lake with no avail. Then Gall heard a demon from the mountains calling to the demons from the Lake. “Here I am,” answered the water demon. “Arise then,” answered the other one, “and help me chase away these strangers who have expelled me from my temple; it will require us both to drive them away.” “What good should we do? Answered the demon of the Lake, ” ;Here is one of them upon the water side whose nets I have tried to break, but have never succeeded.” He prays continually and never sleeps.” Gall spoke to them and said, “In the Name of Jesus Christ I command you to leave these regions without injuring anyone.”‘
Then Gall came ashore went to the church; but before the first psalm had been sung they heard the yells of the demons echoing around the tops of the surrounding hills, at first with fury, and then losing themselves in the distance.
Success in Switzerland.
Success attended the ministry of Columbanus in Switzerland and even greater success attended his disciples. But he was not satisfied and felt he had not yet attained that to which his soul had been prepared. Finally the people tired of the preaching, complained to the Duke that the Christians scared away the game of the forest with their prayers and with their presence. They stole his cows and, killed his monks.
Columbanus and one monk crossed the Alps over the St Gothard pass and arrived at the court of Agilulf, King of the Lombards. There he was received with great respect and endowed with the church and territory of Bobbio, in a gorge of the Apennines, between Genoa and Milan. An old church dedicated to St Peter was in existence then.
Columbanus restored it and added to it a monastery. He established the perennial praise in his monasteries which had come down through the tradition of the desert fathers and from Bangor.
Despite his age he shared the labor with the others and under the weight of his bent old shoulders, he carried the enormous beams of fir-wood. This abbey of Bobbio was his last ministry. He made it the citadel of orthodoxy against the Arians, lighting there a great lamp of knowledge and instruction which long illuminated Northern Italy. The monastery exis ted there ( over 1,000 years) until it was suppressed by the French in 1803. Columbanus and his monks evangelized the Arians and pagans all around. Columbanus ended his life by returning to the solitude he loved. He found a cavern on the opposite shore of Trebbia which he transformed into a chapel. Like other Irish Anchorites, he spent his last days alone, waiting on his Lord, until “God called” his fearless servant home on November 21st 615.
Songs and Psalms
The monks of Bangor and other monasteries seemed to have songs and poems for every occasion imaginable. Contained in the remnant pf the Bangor Antiphonary are several beautiful songs and poems. Part of the Voyage of Bran speaks of the birth of Christ:
“A great birth will come after ages, That will not be in a lofty place, The Son of a Virgin Mother, He will seize the rule of the many thousands.
A rule without beginning, without end, He has created the world, so that it is perfect, Whose are earth and sea, Woe to him that be under His unwill.”
“It is He that made the heavens, happy he that has a white heart, He will purify hosts under pure water, It is He that will cure your sickness.”
The Commemoration of our Abbotts is probably the most valuable, because the date of the manuscript can be determined by it.
You can see a fragment of the Bangor Antiphonary is preserved in the Ambrosian Library of Milan, Italy.
On Columbanus deathbed in the Valley of the Appenines near Bobbio, he sent his staff back to the one who had left Ireland with him ( St. Gall) in the beginning of his journey to Europe. He died on the 11th day before the Kalends of December
( 23rd November) in t he year of our Lord 615AD, probably at age seventy-three. His remains are enclosed in a stone coffin and are still preserved at the old monastic church at Bobbio. He was consumed with a great zeal for God, the cause of his immense power.
The great monastery on the shores of Belfast Lough lay open to attack of the Vikings. They first raided the shores in 810 and between the years of 822 and 824 the tomb of Comgall was broken into. Its costly ornaments seized and his bones shaken from their grave. St Bernard said that in one day over 900 monks were killed.
It is unlikely that the Laus Perennis were ever sung again at Bangor.
The order of Columbas did not long survive its founder, It merged with the Benedictine order on the 8th century. In honor of St Gall there arose a monastery which became one of the most important centers of Irish learning on the Continent.
Finally in the biography of Malachy, St Bernard, wrote of his friend (Malachy)
that he attempted to revive the church at Bangor. The church was again attacked by Conor O’Laughlin, King of the Northern Ui Neill and the city was destroyed.
Malachy was forced to migrate south and founded a work in County Kerry.
In 1134 he was called back to Ulster to become Archbishop of Armagh and in 1137 he returned to his beloved Bangor.
He later died in the arms of St Bernard on All Saints day 1148. Bernard wrote, “Malachy, as if he had been taken up out of our hands by angels, happily fell asleep in the Lord in the in the 54th year of his life in the place and at the time he had chosen and prophesied.”
Bishop Reeves wrote that in the end Bangor fell very far short … and finally dwindled and became but a name and a shell of what it once was.
The Bangor Antiphonary and other Irish books were moved to Milan and today
there is preserved in Milan a reminder of the days of glory when the Laus Perennis was sung in Ireland and Bangor was the great LIGHT OF THE WORLD. For many centuries ago, in the days of the Anglo- Normans, there existed in Ireland a tradition which was already an ancient one.
It is written in history that Bangor became known all over the world for the High Choirs and psalms and songs that were written. But the Perannial Praise and choirs were a by product of this great move of God that touched France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Germany etc The revival came through amazing signs and wonders- which accompanied the preaching fo the Gospel.
When the attention gets on the by product, marvelous though it be, the anointing is replaced gradually by another atmosphere. The atmosphere has power – singing and music can produce an atmosphere of comfort, excitement, similar to the anointing. The enemy is subtle, crafty. Be watchful – keep your eyes on Him- and his command to us to preach the Gospel. It’s easy to replace the preaching of the Gospel with other things that are, or appear spiritual. We are to disciple, to teach, to bring those outside to a knowledge of Him -the Lord of glory. We are to worship. Of course we are. We should love to worship and praise, but it is not instead of doing as he told us, “Preach the Gospel, heal the sick, cast out devils and establish the kingdom.”
There is so much we can learn from history. How revivals came, what happened? How God’s presence comes among us in resurrection power? But we also must learn from the mistakes our predecessors have made so that we can avoid them. God’s desire is to dwell among us – not just to visit us. Visitations are wonderful and marvelous, but His desire is the we live in His glory. From glory to glory –
“I will walk in them and dwell in them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people, says the Lord,” 11 Cor 6:16. Kathie Walters
See also Celtic Flames and Columba-the Celtic Dove
From my website
Or call 800 300 9630
Ref: Lives of the Irish Saints – Rev, John O’hanlon
Bangor – Light of the World – Ian Adamson
Celtic Flames – Kathie Walters
Bangor Abbey Through Fourteen Centuries – The Rev. James Hamilton, M.A
Ireland and the Celtic church – Prof. G.T.Stokes D.D.