Celtic Psalms for Resilience Playlist

The psalms are an endless supply of something we all need right now: resilience. Here is a playlist of soulful songs that connect us with our lament and remind us of our hope. Click on the link below and listen while doing something that gives you joy today.

Celtic Psalms for Resilience Playlist:

Celtic Psalms from Lent into Easter

If you’re  looking for some ideas for music to use in your congregations for the Lenten/Easter season, here’s a  resource we’ve compiled featuring Celtic Psalms arrangements for Ash Wednesday, the weeks of Lent, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and into the Easter season. I’ve included songs from our three albums and (where available) have provided links to mp3s, full scores published by GIA, hymnsheets for congregational singing, youtube videos showing live versions of the songs, and the full album for each song. Many psalms fit well into the Lenten themes of longing, lament, repentance, forgiveness, betrayal, redemption, salvation, and hope, and the soulful sounds of the Irish and Scottish melodies help to draw some of the raw emotions of this season of the liturgical year.

Ash Wednesday

From the Depths (Psalms 130, 131/The Quiet Land of Erin)

 

 

lyrics | GIA full score | hymn sheet |  youtubefull album

Key text: repeated refrain “With God, forgiveness can be found”

How to use: The refrain can be sung antiphonally, first by soloist/small group and repeated by congregation.

Featured instruments: guitar, viola, cello. Piano accompaniment is available in full score, and cello/C instrument scores can be ordered through GIA.

Lent

O God You Are My God (Psalm 63/Eleanor Plunkett)

 

 

lyrics | GIA full score | hymn sheet | youtube link 1 | youtube link 2 | full album

Key text: O God, you are my God, and I long for you… My whole being desires you, like a dry land, like a dry land

How to use: This is a beautiful introit. The first verse can be sung by a soloist and then a choir can then sing verse 1 and 2.

Featured instruments: guitar, harp, C instrument. Piano accompaniment available in full score.

 

As the Deer Longs for Streams (Psalm 42/Down by the Sally Gardens)

 

 

lyrics | GIA full score | hymn sheet | youtube | full album

Key text: As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you

How to use: Because this melody is well known, it can easily be used as a congregational hymn (see hymn sheet link above).

Featured instruments: guitar, C instrument. Piano accompaniment available in full score, and C instrument scores can be ordered through GIA.

Hear My Cry O God (Psalm 61/Caisleán an Óir)

 

 

lyrics | GIA full score | hymn sheet | youtube | full album

Key text: Hear my cry, O God, and listen to my prayer when my heart is faint

How to use: This is a fast-paced song, but it is still one of urgent longing and yearning. This can serve as an anthem or special music at some point in the service. Because the arrangement is a bit more complicated, it is usually best to have a small group or choir sing it, but if you have an especially musically gifted congregation, it can also work to have the congregation join in on the melody the second time, and then split them into two parts to follow two leaders for the round the third time through (see https://vimeo.com/204894523 minute 26.00).

Featured instruments: guitar, bódhran, (or any kind of hand drum), C instrument. Piano accompaniment available in full score, and C instrument scores can be ordered through GIA.

The God of Jacob (Psalm 46/The Dawning of the Day)

 

 

lyrics | GIA full score | hymn sheet | youtube | full album

Key text: The God of Jacob is our strength, our help in times of trouble… The Lord Almighty is with us, our refuge, evermore 

How to use: This melody is simple enough to serve as a congregational hymn. Or, the verses can be sung by soloists/duets and the congregation can come in on the refrain “The Lord Almighty is with us, our refuge, evermore.”

Featured instruments: guitar, C instrument. Piano accompaniment available in full score, and C instrument scores can be ordered through GIA.

 

How Long (Psalm 13/The Lament of the Three Marys) 

 

 

full album

Key text: How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? 

How to use: This can be used as special music (soloist and choir) or as a congregational hymn (soloist and congregation).

Featured instruments: cello, fiddle/viola or keyboard drone, or light guitar strumming. Since this song is from our newest album, full scores aren’t yet available.

By the Waters (Psalm 137/The Emigrant’s Farewell)

 

full album

Key text: Don’t forget, Lord, how I grieve, how my heart has wounds that have not been healed

How to use: This song could be done by a soloist or with a small group sing on the refrain.

Featured instruments: harp, cello. Since this song is from our newest album, full scores aren’t yet available.

 

I Am Weary (Psalm 102/Táim Cortha ó Bheith im’Aonar i Mo Luí)

 

 

full album

Key text: I am weary from being alone, alone, I am weary from being alone

How to use: A haunting special music solo, capturing the weariness of loneliness of physical, emotional or spiritual weariness. This psalm tells the story of one who is ill at midlife, but it also expresses the loneliness of many life journeys.

Featured instruments: guitar, harp, flute/whistle, pipes. Since this song is from our newest album, full scores aren’t yet available.

Save Me, O God (Psalm 69/The Streets of Derry)

 

 

full album

Key text: Save me O God, for the water’s rising… Save me, O God, for you are my hope

How to use: A song for a soloist with a small group or choir to offer the refrain “Save me, O God, for your are my hope.”

Featured instruments: guitar, keyboard, pipes. Since this song is from our newest album, full scores aren’t yet available.

Maundy Thursday

Wings of a Dove (Psalm 55/Ned of the Hill)

 

youtube | full album

Key text: O that I had the wings, had the wings of a dove, I would fly far away to the home that I love; I would fly to the place where my heart is at rest, in the shelter far from the tempest and storm

How to use: This is a beautiful anthem, speaking poignantly of human betrayal and the longing for shelter and safety from the evils of this world. If you are planning a folk-oriented Maundy Thursday service, this could contribute to your selection of songs.

Featured instruments: guitar, keyboard, fiddle, flute, harp. Since this song is from our newest album, full scores aren’t yet available.

Good Friday

My God, My God (Psalm 22/Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore)

 

 

lyrics | GIA full score | hymn sheet | youtube | full album

Key text: My God, my God… why have you forsaken me

How to use: This can be sung as a congregational hymn or by a small group. Alternatively, the congregation can join on the last line of each verse, “My God, my God; my God, my God…” See how it’s done in a congregational setting here: https://vimeo.com/204894523 minute 19.35

Featured instruments: guitar, C instrument, cello. Piano accompaniment is available in full score, and cello/C instrument scores can be ordered through GIA.

Easter

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow (Psalm 147/Mo Ghile Mar)

 

 

lyrics | GIA full score | hymn sheet | youtube link 1 | youtube link 2  | full album

Key text: Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; praise the healer of our souls; earth and moon and stars above sing praise to you, O God of love!

How to use: This is a joyful song that can easily be sung by a congregation if the hymn sheet is available. With printed words only, they can join on a refrain while a choir or small group sings the verses.

Featured instruments: guitar, C instrument. Piano accompaniment available in full score, and C instrument scores can be ordered through GIA.

I Love the Lord (Psalm 116/The Galway Shawl)

 

 

youtube link | full album

Key text: I love the Lord, who showed me mercy, who heard my voice and heard my cry; long as I live, I will call upon you, because you’ve listened and saved my life. 

How to use: This melody is catchy and repetitive enough that it can be picked up easily by a congregation, with words on a screen or printed out. Note – recorded version and youtube versions offer two different interpretations of how to present the song musically.

Featured instruments: guitar, keyboard, pipes. Since this song is from our newest album, full scores aren’t yet available.

You Have Turned My Sorrow (Psalm 30/Green Grows the Laurel)

 

 

lyrics | GIA full score | hymn sheet | youtube link | full album

Key text: You have turned my sorrow to dancing and song, you’ve taken my sackcloth and clothed me with joy; so my soul shall praise you, be silent no more; my Lord and my God, I’ll give thanks evermore!

How to use: With a repetitive and catchy melody line, this song is easy for a congregation to pick up, either in full or just on the refrains. If you happen to have an Irish dancer (or liturgical dancer) in the congregation, that can add an element of joy to the song (see youtube link)! Also see this link on how this can be done with a congregation: https://vimeo.com/204894523 minute 27.19

Featured instruments: guitar, fiddle, harp, cello, flute. Piano accompaniment available in full score, and cello/C instrument scores can be ordered through GIA.

 

Hallelujah (Psalm 146/Here’s a Health to the Company)

 

 

full album

Key text: Hallelujah, I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to God with all of my being 

How to use: This works well as a call and response, with a cantor introducing the first verse, and for each verse after that the congregation singing the first part and the cantor singing the second part. The final verse can be sung by the congregation until the end.

Featured instruments: guitar, keyboard, fiddle, flute. Since this song is from our newest album, full scores aren’t yet available.

We hope this compilation has been useful to you. If you would like to ask us any questions about our music, please feel free to get in touch at info@celticpsalms.com. And, have a blessed Lent and Easter.

 

 

*featured image above from the Vanderbilt Library Lectionary resources

Celtic Music, Spirituality and Peacemaking Pilgrimage Oct 2018

In October 2018, Celtic Psalms has been invited to be a part of a pilgrimage to Ireland. As you journey, you will learn about Celtic music, spirituality, and peacemaking. This is sure to be a wonderful experience, and we’d love to meet you in Ireland if you’re able to come along!

Celtic Music, Spirituality & Peacemaking | October 17-26, 2018

PRE-ORDER Our New Album!

Our new album, Celtic Psalms: Rest in the Shelter, will come out in the Spring of 2018. If you’d like to pre-order it, the links are below!

 

In the third installment of psalms set to Celtic melodies, Kiran Young Wimberly and the McGraths come together once again to lift up life’s joys, laments, and hopes in soulful song. If you’ve appreciated the first two albums of Celtic Psalms and if you’d like to order the third volume in advance, we invite you to pre-order your copy now!

 

Our Story

Kiran Young Wimberly is an American Presbyterian minister who has spent much of the past decade in Northern Ireland. While living and serving in the Belfast area, she became an avid fan of Irish traditional music and wished she could see more of this style of music in the context of worship. She began arranging psalms, her long-time favorite section of scripture, to Irish and Scottish melodies. Desiring to link up with local musicians in recording the songs, she asked the talented musical family The McGraths of Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, and Dónal O’Connor of RedBox Recording, Belfast, to collaborate with her in creating this music. They recorded their first album in 2013 and their second in 2015. Their music has been featured on RTE televised Sunday services as well as the BBC documentary on hymnwriting in Northern Ireland entitled “Then Sings My Soul.” In 2017, GIA Publications released full scores/choral versions of Volumes 1 and 2 to encourage congregational use of these songs, and Celtic Psalms was asked to share their arrangements in Calvin Worship Symposium’s Vespers service. In the summer of 2018, Celtic Psalms will lead a workshop at the Hymn Society’s annual conference in St. Louis.

Why do we want to keep recording more Celtic Psalms? The psalms are such a powerful way to offer up our joys and sorrows, hopes and fears before God, and since we began making this music, we have heard that the combination of the poignant words of the psalms with soulful Celtic melodies provides a healing balm for many. We believe that music reaches the heart in ways words alone cannot. By continuing to make more of this music, we continue to invite people to be honest about their deeper emotions before a God who listens compassionately.

We’re excited to share this new album with you.

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Celtic Psalms 3 – Launching Spring 2018

A new album is being born!

Really looking forward to launching our third album of Celtic Psalms in the spring of 2018.

We’ll keep you posted!

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Featured Song: Hear My Cry, O God (Psalm 61)

Today’s featured song is from Celtic Psalms (Volume 2): Hear My Cry, O God (Psalm 61)

 

Click on the Youtube link below and listen while you read… (Lead vocals: Chloe McGrath)

 

 

 

 

 

 

CLICK HERE FOR FULL SCORE AVAILABLE THROUGH GIA PUBLICATIONS! We are so excited about this resource.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SONG NOTES

 

Words: Kiran Young Wimberly, based on Psalm 61

 

Music: Caisléan an Óir (by Junior Crehan, 1908-1998, arr. Kiran Young Wimberly)

 

History of Air: In Irish, the title of this melody means “The Golden Castle,” and the first time I heard it was on Martin and Christine Dowling’s CD A Thousand Farewells. The tune was written by Martin ‘Junior’ Crehan, a fiddler from County Clare (hear him play his melody at minute 3.41). Apparently, he took a slower air, “Caoineadh an tSagairt (The Priest’s Lament),” and injected some liveliness into it to make it into a ‘hornpipe’ (a dance tune). In the middle of the 20th century, Junior saw traditional music falling in popularity, his music friends emigrated to England or America, and his beloved fiddle mentor and friend passed away. In an interview, Junior shares the deep sadness he experienced during that time: “I used to go down the road, and I used, honest to God, I used to nearly cry.”

Yet, during his lifetime traditional music saw a welcome revival in Ireland and aPhoto by Pat Mackenziebroad. An article from 1992 describes one of Junior’s regular music sessions, and you can just picture the scene. “Suddenly an elderly man wearing a cap strolls into the room and is greeted with cries of welcome; you notice he is carrying a fiddle, then you realise that there is a little stage in one corner.  After acquiring a ‘pint of stout’ from the bar, the man with the fiddle mounts the stage, followed by several other men of the same generation carrying fiddles, whistles and bodhrans.  After some desultory tuning and adjusting of the ‘amplification’, they break into a lively selection of reels.  Very soon the dancers are on the floor and Junior Crehan and his colleagues – known affectionately to their family and friends as ‘Dad’s Army’ – have begun another night of music and dancing at Gleeson’s.”

I’d like to think that Junior would have appreciated his tune being used to express deep sorrow that leads toward a sense of hope, as we have done with our Celtic Psalm arrangement.

 

Psalm 61: This psalm begins on an urgent note: “Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint” (NRSV). The writer is in distress, feels far away from help, and is losing strength rapidly. Having expressed the desperate plea for God to listen, the writer then asks to be 20150113_131532led to a place of refuge – “the rock that is higher than I” and “a strong tower against the enemy.” The imagery here is striking. Considering the landscape of Ireland, every monastery during the thriving era of early Irish Christianity contained a ’round tower’ that was, quite literally, a high stone tower that served as a place of refuge if the community was ever attacked. We can imagine an Irish Christian in, say, the 5th century, praying these words with the visual of the very tower that sat in the heart of their community – a place of safety and comfort.

In this psalm, there is movement from a desperate plea to a profession of praise, but it’s significant that the writer doesn’t skip over the lament before moving toward hope. “The prayer of lament portrays human life at its most desperate and vulnerable. The inclusion of these prayers in the Bible and in Christian spirituality communicates that human beings are still loved by God, even in their most desperate and self-serving moments” (Billman and Migliore, Rachel’s Cry: Prayer of Lament and Rebirth of Hope, p. 193). Not only does God love us through our times of distress, but God hears us, and leads us towards a place of refuge.

 

How to Use This Song: I like to use this song as either a call to prayer or a response to prayer. It can be done fast (as on our CD) or it can be slowed to a more meditative pace (click below). We did this recently with a small choir  – we did verse 1, allowed space for the pastoral prayer, then came back with verses 2 and 3. It was very moving. Listen here for that recording. The prayer is by my friend, Rev. Sarah Schmidt-Lee at First Congregational Church, Kalamazoo.

 

This song is also a favorite among youngsters, and I’ve incorporated it a few times into a children’s sermon. I point out the line From the end of earth I call to you when my heart is faint, and I ask, “What do you think this person means by “the end of earth?” Answers range from “Texas!” to “Hanging off the edge of a cliff!” to “feeling lonely.” The thrust of the message: it’s okay to call out for help, God listens to us when we cry out, even when we think we’re at the edge of the world and that no one can hear us.

See the GIA songbook for vocal harmonies, guitar chords, instrumentation, and piano accompaniment. The fast version sounds best with the bodhran (Irish drum), but any kind of hand drum will also work.

 

Personal Note: We absolutely love singing this song. One night when the McGraths and I were working on our arrangement, Kelly McGrath said, “Hold on, wouldn’t that work as a round?” We then went into fits of giggles trying that out, because we found that it doesn’t work as a round through the entire song – only the first and third portions. The second part sounded like a complete mess! However, we decided that rather than giving up on the round altogether, we’d come back together for part two, then branch out into the round again to finish the song. Once we mastered it, we’ve found that this song always brings us a sense of joy at the end!

 

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Songbook Published by GIA here

CD Available here

Purchase Mp3 Bundle here

Lyrics on our website here

 

Hear us sing Hear My Cry, O God in a Vespers service at the Calvin Worship Symposium, Jan 2017 (scroll to min 27)

 

How have you used this song? Or, if you haven’t tried it yet, how do you think you might incorporate it into a worship service? We would love to hear! 

Featured Song: Praise the Lord, All the Earth (Psalm 104)

Today’s featured song is from Celtic Psalms (Volume 1): Praise the Lord, All the Earth (Psalm 104)

 

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Click on the Youtube link and listen while you read…

 

 

CLICK HERE FOR FULL SCORE AVAILABLE THROUGH GIA PUBLICATIONS! We are so excited about this resource…

 

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SONG NOTES

 

Words: Kiran Young Wimberly, based on Psalm 104

 

Music: Thughamar Féin an Samhradh Linn (Traditional, arr. Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin and Kiran Young Wimberly)

 

History of Air: Thughamar Féin an Samhradh Linn is a traditional melody originating from the Armagh area of the Oriel region in Northern Ireland. The melody is one of the oldest song types in the Irish song tradition and was rediscovered in an archive by the wonderful traditional singer and scholar of traditional song, Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin (see her fascinating book A Hidden Ulster: People, song and traditions of Oriel). It was traditionally sung in May to mark the arrival of spring. I was inspired by her version of this song, which appears on her 2002 album An Dealg Óir.

 

Psalm 104: This psalm is known as one of the creation stories within scripture. It tells of God creating the foundations of the world, the elements of nature, and the creatures that dwell on the earth. In this psalm, the whole earth seems to be singing its praise to the Creator God. God creates this beautiful world that we can enjoy, and God also provides for all living creatures – springs for the animals to drink from, grass for the cattle to eat, trees in which the birds can build their nests. And for humans, God provides food from the soil, fruit from the vine “to gladden the human heart” (NRSV), bread to strengthen us, the sun and moon to mark the passage of days and seasons, and even the spirit of life within us. Through this psalm, we’re reminded of the majesty of creation – its intricacy and vastness – but also of our unique place within it. All that we have comes from God, right down to our very breath. And so, with the rest of creation, we sing this refrain: “Praise the Lord, all the earth.”

 

How to Use This Song: This is a wonderful gathering song. It can be used as a Call to Worship with a leader singing the first and third lines of each verse and the congregation singing the repeated second and fourth lines “Praise the Lord, all the earth” – or, the congregation can sing the entire song as a hymn. For instrumentation, we have vocal harmonies, guitar chords, instrumentation, and piano accompaniment in our GIA songbook. Even without a full band, I love having a stringed instrument weave throughout the song, whether a cello (on our CD) or a fiddle (as in the youtube recording above). On a Sunday focusing on this psalm, I have used the last few verses (see below) as a sung response of thanksgiving in place of the doxology.

 

All of these good things you have created
Praise the Lord, all the earth
You give us breath, new life to all
Praise the Lord, all the earth

 

Glory to God forever and ever
Praise the Lord, all the earth
I’ll sing to God all of my living
Praise the Lord, all the earth

 

Personal Note: Some of the most sacred moments in our concerts or worship services come as we sing the last verse, “Glory to God forever and ever,” a capella. There is something quite moving about the words combined with the soaring melody, especially when a congregation is singing in full voice. It’s an uplifting way to begin a time of worship.

 

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Songbook Published by GIA here

CD Available here

Purchase Mp3 Bundle here

Lyrics on our website here

 

Hear us sing Praise the Lord, All the Earth in a Vespers service at the Calvin Worship Symposium, Jan 2017 (scroll to min 8:45)

 

How have you used this song? Or, if you haven’t tried it yet, how do you think you might incorporate it into a worship service? We would love to hear! 

 

Celtic Psalms at Calvin Worship Symposium, Jan 2017

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We were incredibly honored to have been invited to lead worship and teach our songs at the Calvin Worship Symposium last week in Grand Rapids, MI. What an uplifting week! We led two Vespers services for around 800 people per night, as well as two informal workshops teaching Celtic Psalms arrangements for congregational song. We then helped to lead worship on Sunday morning at First Congregational Church, Kalamazoo, MI, and shared our psalms at an evening service at Woodlawn CRC, Grand Rapids, MI. Along the way, we made some new musical friends and enjoyed some picturesque, wintry Michigan weather! Looking forward to our next Midwestern tour, someday…

 

View our Thursday Vespers service here:

Celtic Psalms Vesper Video – Calvin Symposium 2017

 

Also, new resources from GIA were released at the Symposium – and they SOLD OUT of what they had brought with them! If you’d like to order choral or congregational arrangements, including instrumental parts, vocal harmonies, guitar chords, and freshly composed piano accompaniment, go to GIA’s website:

Celtic Psalms – GIA Resources for Churches

 

See also these articles put together by the Symposium regarding the background of the Celtic Psalms project in Northern Ireland:

Kiran Young Wimberly on the Celtic Psalms project

Singing Celtic Psalms in Northern Ireland

 

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Upcoming Concerts – Northern Ireland Summer 2016

Dungannon poster

Upcoming Concerts in Northern Ireland!

 

23rd June Thursday – The Square Box, Dungannon, 8pm – FREE ADMISSION

 

 

Armagh poster

25th June Saturday – Armagh Theatre 8pm – £10 entry

 

 

And – in the Cavan area – a concert at 3:30pm on Sunday the 26th! email info@celticpsalms.com if you would like to attend.