A BIBLIOGRAPHY of CELTIC PRAYER – More Resources from Tom Cashman: Updated for 2020

by Christine Sine
Iona cross with Bishop's house in distance

Iona cross with Bishop’s house in distance

Last week I posted this resource list for Celtic spirituality that Tom Cashman had sent me. He graciously reminded me that he had also produced a bibliography for celtic prayers which I have copied below.

My favourites from this list are – Adam, David: The Rhythm of Life: Celtic Daily Prayer; De Waal, Esther: The Celtic Way of Prayer: The Recovery of the Religious Imagination; and Earle, Mary & Maddox Sylvia: Praying With The Celtic Saints. I have also found Brendan O’Malley’s A Celtic Primer: The Complete Celtic Worship to be a great resource when looking for liturgies.

One that is not on this list that I would add is Celtic Fire by Robert Van de Weyer. A great whimsical collection of prayers and good as an introduction for those that know nothing about Celtic spirituality.

Enjoy and thank you Tom for sharing these resources.

Adam, David, The Edge of Glory; Prayers in the Celtic Tradition; Morehouse 1985. David Adam’s best known work provides prayer in lorica, litany, and free verse formats for personal and group usage. Now widely used.

______________The Rhythm of Life: Celtic Daily Prayer; SPCK, 1996. Warden of the Lindisfarne Community and the most prolific author of prayer in the Celtic Style, Adam offers a seven-day cycle of prayer for individual or community use. There are segments for morning, mid-day, and evening comprised of scripture and prayers of his own origination. Quite an orthodox and usable resource for any community moving toward a Celtic liturgy.

Carmicheal, Alexander, The Carmina Gaedelica; Lindisfarne Press, 1992 (various earlier editions and publishers). This is the classic primary source book of oral tradition collected between 1855 and 1910 by Alexander Carmichael largely in the outer Hebrides. Included are many prayer forms that stretch our 20th century definition of prayer in the Christian tradition. Some of the “charms” and “spells” remind us of Psalms that call down God’s wrath against our enemies. There is also great depth and beauty in many prayers that have been rescued from oblivion by Carmichael. Most of these prayers are available online here.

De Waal, Esther, The Celtic Way of Prayer: The Recovery of the Religious Imagination; Doubleday, 1997. This well researched work comes from one of the most respected commentators on Celtic spirituality, approaching it from the Benedictine perspective. Many prayers from the Carmina Gaedelica are included along with current Celtic oral tradition. Her commentary on the hallmarks of Celtic prayer are valuable and definitive.

Earle, Mary & Maddox, Sylvia: Praying With The Celtic Saints; St. Mary’s Press, 1999. This series of meditations is built around the lives of 15 Celtic saints. Some are well known, but many such as Welsh saints Melangell, Non, Illtyd and Winifride are less prominent. Each meditation takes an attribute of the life and ministry of a saint as theme for the day. Beautifully done.

Fitzgerald, William J.: A Contemporary Celtic Prayer Book; Acta Publications, 1998. Perhaps the best practical guide for community daily liturgy yet. Fitzgerald is a retired American priest who reframes the Carmina for today. An excellent 7-day cycle of prayer is the books’ core. The second half provides prayer for special needs and extraordinary occasions.

_______________________ Blessings for the Fast Paced & Cyberspaced; Forest of Peace Publishing, Leavenworth, KS, 2000. Fr. Fitzgerald provides this extension of prayers for the hectic world in which we live today. For example, there are blessings for “the computer as I sit down to it,” for soccer moms, and for couples trying to conceive. He takes us through many routine life situations with an eye towards finding the sacred in all of them.

Galloway, Kathy: The Pattern of Our Days: Worship in the Celtic Tradition; from the Iona Community Paulist Press, 1996. A most diverse, intriguing and useful collection that ranges widely into prayer for peace and justice issues. Prayers for the unheeded, painful events of our lives that need to be marked with compassion by the Christian community are included. Highly recommended.

The Iona Community, Iona Abbey Worship Book; Wild Goose Publications, 2001. The forward of this wonderful offers insight into the uses of these prayers, liturgies and litanies within the Iona Community and the thinking that underlies their composition and utilization. Suggestions are made for use in our communities world-wide as well. The use of these prayers offers insight into the essential theology and ethos of the Iona Community.

Jones, John Miriam, SC With An Eagle’s Eye; Ave Maria Press, 1998. Another 7-day cycle is presented here as a Celtic Retreat. The material for each day begins with thematic readings, prayers for the routine tasks of the day, suggested scripture references, meditations and options for activities that support the them of the day.

MacLeod, George F.: The Whole Earth Shall Cry Glory; Wild Goose Publications, 1985. In 1938, MacLeod founded the contemporary Iona Community. These prayers from his hand reflect the mysticism of this “radical conservative” and offer somewhat more traditional and historic insight into the ethos of that community and era.

McLean, G. R. D.: Praying With the Celts; Eerdmans Publishing, 1988. These prayers are excerpted from McLean’s Poems of the Western Highlanders, first published in 1961. A mixture of the Carmina Gaedelica, and McLean’s 19th century Scottish adaptations. Wonderful blessings for ships and the seagoing are included.

Newell, J. Philip, Celtic Prayers from Iona; Paulist Press, 1997. Another book that offers a cycle of daily prayer. Six days lift up the community concerns for justice & peace, healing, the goodness of creation and care for the earth, commitment to Christ, communion of heaven and earth, and welcome & hospitality. Gospel and psalm readings from the lectionary are coordinated with the readings.

_________________Sounds of the Eternal: A Celtic Psalter; Canterbury Press, 2002. This is a cycle of daily prayer that expresses in prayer what Newell expresses in thought in Echo of the Soul. Newell also is mindful of the closeness of Celtic spirituality with Jewish mysticism. In that vein, he crafted this set of prayers which could be shared between these great strains of wisdom. Catholic and Orthodox Old Testament readings from the lectionary are coordinated with the readings.

Sounds of the Eternal: Meditative Chants and Prayers CD, 2005. Based on the themes of Newell’s Sounds of the Eternal, this CD was recorded at the Cathedral of The Isles on Cumbrae in the Western Isles of Scotland. It is a remarkable chant recording.

Northumbrian Community Celtic Daily Prayer; Harper Collins, 2002. This is a compilation of the previously published Celtic Daily Prayer and Celtic Night Prayer. In addition to providing a daily cycle with lectionary, it also includes Complines in the tradition of various Celtic Saints, meditations, and a Holy Communion service. The latter portion offers themed and situational prayers and blessings. Two series of daily readings after the tradition of Aidan and Finian comprise the final section. This is a substantial resource.

O’Malley, Brendan: God at Every Gate; Canterbury Press, 1997. This unique little book of prayer is organized by theme, from emotions to creatures to the members of the universe. Imagine a micro-liturgy based on reptiles or on rivers, on the stars or around depression. O’Malley’s sub-title is “Prayers and Blessings for Pilgrims.”

_______________________ Celtic Blessings and Prayers: Making All Things Sacred; Twenty-Third Publications, 1998. A very useful collection of individual prayers and liturgies for group use. O’Malley addresses many moments in life that the Church today does not address; Blessing of the Elderly, the Ending of a Relationship, Blessing of a Vehicle, for a Still-Born Child, etc.

______________________ A Celtic Primer: The Complete Celtic Worship Resource & Collection; Morehouse Publishing, 2002. The most complete compendium to date of prayer and liturgy in the Celtic tradition from O’Malley. Like the Stowe Missal, much of the content is from Gallican and Gelasian sources. Morning and Evening Prayer, the Psalms, Eucharist, Compline, and many individual prayers are included. A CD with all content in Word format provides easy inclusion in local liturgies, with the author & publisher’s permission.

Raine, Andy and Skinner, John T.: Celtic Daily Prayer; A Northumbrian Office; Marshall Pickering, 1994. A variety of liturgical threads from the Jewish Shabbat to the blessing and prayer of Columba are incorporated in this book’s year-long cycle. Certain liturgical roles in the Shabbat are specified for a woman and the introduction explores the implications of women’s roles in the worship of today. There is a companion volume for Night Prayer.

Sawyers, June Skinner: Praying with Celtic Saints, Prophets, Martyrs and Poets; Sheed & Ward, 2001. A collection of short bios of persons associated with Celtic Spirituality from the Golden Age of Saints and Scholars on through to such contemporaries as Seamus Heany, John O’Donohue, and Allister MacLeod. This book provides a bridge into the great cloud of saints by including both well known individuals and the nameless ones who perished during historic trauma such as the Highland Clearances and the Potato Famine.

Simpson, Ray: Celtic Worship through the Year; Hodder and Stoughton Ltd, 1997. A marvelous collection of liturgies previously published individually by St. Aidan Trust, collected in a single volume for use by worshipping communities. Be prepared to modify syntax and adapt for gender appropriate language.

__________________ Celtic Blessings: Prayers for Everyday Life; Loyola Press, 1999. Simpson gives us more prayers in the Celtic style for homely everyday events like work, travel, and parties; formal occasions such as weddings and funerals; seasonal rituals and rites of passage such as divorce, anniversary, promotion, a girl’s first period, retirement, etc.

(Tom Cashman, Corporate Coaching & Consulting, September, 2009)

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