Ceol an Aifrinn (Mass by Sean O Riada) in new print edition

Ceol an Aifrinn (Mass by Sean O Riada) in new print edition

Irish Choral Music   /   Aug 16th, 2019   /   0 COMMENTS   /  A+ | a-
Seolta Music was delighted to receive permission to prepare a new print edition of Sean O'Riada's setting of the Mass - Ceol an Aifrinn. Sean's son Peadar has written a foreword to the new publication which gives an intimate and quite unique insight into the composition of his father's best loved work. As he has remarked, there are few Irish communities either in Ireland or abroad where one does not hear excerpts from this Mass such as 'Ag Críost an Síol' or' 'An Phaidir' (The Lord's Prayer). Also available from Seolta Music is an arrangement of Sean O'Riada's theme from the film 'Mise Éire' in a stirring arrangement for wind band.

The occasion of a new print of my father, Seán Ó Riada's, liturgical music  always reminds me that this is the real lasting portfolio of his work.  His film music such as Mise Eire is probably better known in Ireland but around the world, wherever there is an Irish community, one will hear "Ag Críost an Síol" or "An Phaidir" or some other  shorter piece.  These will be sung as a touchstone to their Irish home and Island of their ancestors.   It may be in the middle of a celebratory mass of special occasion or a coming together in a time of grief. But it will always be at a time of solidarity. We are a nation where emotion and the spiritual are never far from the surface.

I think it would be fair to say that with his Aifreann 1 or his first mass, that Seán hit a chord that suits the Irish mien.  The music gives pride of place to melody and melody is king in Irish music. It thus resonates with the Irish congregation. But Seán's original accompaniment also bears the marks of 20th century taste in harmony.  There are subtle chord progressions that hint at his youthful days playing jazz.

I remember when it was composed.   My father was a close friend to An t-Athair Donncha O Conchúir who was our curate in Cuil Aodha at the time.   The second Vatican Council was drawing to a close and the Latin text of the Mass was being translated to the vernacular.  Drafts would appear from Maynooth and Donncha would bring them up to Seán.  The two would spend an evening mulling over the new text.  The all male choir was formed and Seán started first with the communion hymns.  "Gille Mo Chroí" was then followed with Antiphon and Exeunt "Is Beannaithe Tig Dé" and "Réir Dé go nDeineam" Then the Offertory Hymn "Ag Críost an Síol".  Then "An Phaidir" or "Ár n'Athair atá ar Neamh" which led willy-nilly into other bits until the Mass was set to music.  I do not believe that they set out with this in mind, but this was the end result.  Of course the choir added each new piece and was singing the Mass in the Irish language in Cúil Aodha each Sunday probably much sooner the most other Masses celebrated in the local vernacular around the world.   I remember the first time we sang this Mass outside of Cúil Aodha in Maynooth in 1967 where our friend Tomás Ó Fiach was professor of History and another friend, Pádraig Ó Fiannachta had been central to the Irish translations which have stood the test of time so well.   Indeed it is interesting that the Irish translations fare so well when compared to other languages and the new  scrutiny being made of them today around the world.

I am very grateful to Mark Armstrong for such energy and time into making this publication available.   Mo mhíle beannacht air.  I hope you find as much enjoyment, contentment and spiritual harmony in this music as it has provided to me in my lifetime. 

Go mairir.   

Peadar Ó Riada    
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