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The Masses of Seán and Peadar Ó Riada: Explorations in Vernacular Chant
The Masses of Seán and Peadar Ó Riada: Explorations in Vernacular Chant

Our Price:39.00
Authors: John O'Keefe
Affiliation: Director of Sacred Music at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth
Publication Year: Hardback with CD November 2017
Pages: 308
Size: 234 x 156mm

ISBN: 9781782052357

Seán Ó Riada’s mass, Ceol an Aifrinn, containing such iconic settings as ‘Ár nAthair’, ‘Is Naofa’ and ‘Ag Críost an síol’, emerged at a crucial historical juncture when Irish people were, under Ó Riada’s own considerable influence, beginning to rediscover the dignity of their native musical tradition, and the Catholic Church, following the Second Vatican Council, was beginning to explore the liturgical potential of vernacular languages and cultures. Written for the Gaeltacht community of Cúil Aodha, it was to be the first of three Ó Riada masses which drew on a rich oral song tradition.

The music itself (presented in music score and in audio file on an accompanying CD), is exceptional in its quality and in its cultural and liturgical integrity, and represents a uniquely valuable contribution to post Vatican II vernacular liturgical music.

In the field of liturgical musicology, while much has been written on connections between music and theology and music and liturgy/ritual, almost no attention has been focused on the foundational relationship between music and text, a relationship which this study puts firmly back on the agenda.

The book advances a fresh and potentially liberating definition of chant (sung prose) and redeems the concept of ‘vernacular chant’ from existing limited understandings.

It should be of interest to liturgical musicians, musicologists, theologians, chant scholars and ethnomusicologists. The Ó Riada aspect will have its own market, particularly in Ireland.

This study, published on the 50th anniversary of the Vatican II instruction Musicam Sacram, examines in detail the contents of Ceol an Aifrinn, together with those of the composer’s Aifreann 2 (written for the Benedictines at Glenstal Abbey) and Aifreann Eoin na Croise, written by his son, Peadar Ó Riada. The material 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; as part of a broader aesthetic context of text-music relationships found in the repertoires of chant, medieval song and folksong; and finally, as part of the new liturgical reality existing since the Second Vatican Council. The book highlights the significance of the achievements of both composers, validating their work against the heritage, discipline and compositional principles of western plainchant and heralding its significance as a model for contemporary vernacular liturgical music.

John O’Keeffe is Director of Sacred Music at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth and Director of Choral Groups at Maynooth University, Ireland.

Average Rating: Average Rating: 5 of 5 5 of 5 Total Reviews: 2 Write a review »

  1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 The Masses of Seán and Peadar Ó Riada: Exploration April 10, 2018
Reviewer: Father Pat Ahern, Irish Examiner from Ireland  
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.

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  0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 The Masses of Sean and Peadar O Riada January 3, 2018
Reviewer: kevin O connell from Dublin, Dublin Republic of 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.

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