It presents an investigation into the liturgical music of Sean and Peadar O Riada through an examination of three Roman-Rite mass settings composed in the Irish vernacular from within the cultural context of the West-Cork Gaeltacht of Muscrai. The main part of the work, running from Chapters Three to Six, consists of a detailed analysis of the contents of the mass settings, a body of material which is considered from the following perspectives: as emanating from a living culture of native traditional song; as part of a historical continuum of monophonic liturgical composition for the Roman Rite, having at its origins the compositional traditions of plainchant; as part of a broader aesthetic context of text-music relationships found in the repertoires of plainchant, medieval song and folksong; and finally, as part of the new liturgical reality existing since the Second Vatican Council which requires viable and sustainable musical approaches to the setting of vernacular texts.
John O'Keefe is Director of Sacred Music, St Patrick's College, Maynooth, Ireland
This book is not only a fascinating discussion of the music itself but of the whole tradition of liturgical music. It gives an excellent account of the difficulties faced by church musicians post-Vatican II facing the contradictory demands of honoring the chant tradition while composing in the vernacular. Strongly recommended.
~kevin O connell
An excellent new book of scholarship on the sacred musical and vernacular chants of the father-and-son composers Sean and Peadar Ó Riada, has valuable insights into their craft. John O'Keeffe brings a lifetime of musicality. He is a skilled musician, composer, ethnomusicologist, and is an expert in liturgical music and chant, notably from 25 years as director of sacred music at St Patrick's College Maynooth. The result is a work of rare and outstanding scholarship, which gives us invaluable insights into the inner landscapes and workings of the music of the two Ó Riada composers, father, Sean, and son, Peadar. John O'Keeffe's monumental work is a watershed in the developing story of vernacular song. It deserves to be a shelf companion, not only for experts --musicians, composers, musicologists -- but for anybody concerned with sustaining a worthy vernacular music for the liturgy.
~Father Pat Ahern, Irish Examiner
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