As I reflect on Celtic retreats we used to hold, I am also revisiting many of the Celtic prayer books on my shelves. Reading Rodney Newman’s book, Journey with Celtic Saints, with its excellent bibliography has also tempted me to consider some new books to add to the list so it seems like an appropriate time to update my Celtic resource list. This is not a comprehensive list. It draws from a larger Celtic bibliography compiled by Celtic expert and spiritual director, Tom Cashman. A significant portion of this list is also contributed by Linda Lockwood of the Celtic Christianity and Music Facebook group.
Adam, David: The Edge of Glory; Prayers in the Celtic Tradition; David Adam’s best known work provides prayer in lorica, litany, and free verse formats for personal and group usage.
The Rhythm of Life: Celtic Daily Prayer; This book 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. Tom and I have used this for years as part of our prayer rhythm.
The Open Gate
Aelred of Rievaulx: Spiritual Friendship
Allen, J Romilly: The Romano – British Period And Celtic Monuments
Balzer, Tracy: Thin Places: An Evangelical Journey into Celtic Christianity
Bamford, Christopher (Translator): The Voice of the Eagle: The Heart of Celtic Christianity
Bradley, Ian: The Celtic Way; Still the best basic overview of Celtic Christianity. Often used as the text for initial classes on Celtic spirituality.
Following the Celtic Way, A New Assessment of Celtic Christianity
Celtic Christian Communities: Colonies of Heaven; This more recent book by Bradley takes us into practical application of the world view and spiritual practice of the Celtic Christian church. This is a “must read” for any student of the future, emerging church.
Bryce, Derek: Symbolism of the Celtic Cross
Carmicheal, Alexander: The Carmina Gaedelica; 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.
Child, Jenny: Celtic Prayers and Reflections
DeGregorio, Scott (Editor): The Cambridge Companion To Bede
De Waal, Esther: Every Earthly Blessing; Rediscovering the Celtic Tradition; One of the best introductions to Celtic Spirituality containing splendid examples from Celtic poetry and other writings.
The Celtic Way of Prayer; This is one of my favorites which provides not just an introduction to the different aspects of Celtic spirituality but also a rich array of prayers.
Donaldson, Christopher: Martin of Tours: The Shaping of Celtic Spirituality
Earle, Mary C.: The Desert Mothers: Spiritual Practices from the Women of the Wilderness
with Sylvia Maddox: Holy Companions: Spiritual Practices from Celtic Saints
Ferguson, Ronald: Chasing the Wild Goose: The Story of the Iona Community
Fitzgerald, William J.: A Contemporary Celtic Prayer Book; 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 book’s core. The second half provides prayer for special needs and extraordinary occasions.
Blessings for the Fast Paced & Cyberspaced; 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.
Fleeson, Mary: Life Journey: A Call to Christ Centred Living
Freeman, Mara: Mara Freeman Kindling the Celtic Spirit
Gameson, Richard (Editor): The Treasures of Durham University Library
Gildas and Giles, J.A.,: On The Ruin of Britain
Hardinge, Leslie: The Celtic Church in Britain
Hayward, Anne: A Celtic Pilgrimage A Walk from Wales to Brittany
Hunter III, George G: The Celtic Way of Evangelism
The Iona Community: Iona Abbey Worship Book; The forward of this wonderful book offers insight into the uses of these prayers, liturgies and litanies within the Iona Community and the thinking that underlies their composition and use. Suggestions are also made for use in Iona communities world-wide. These prayers offer insight into the essential theology and ethos of the Iona Community.
James, Chalwyn: An Age of Saints: Its Relevance for us today
Jones, Kathleen: Who are the Celtic Saints?
Lacey, Brian: Colum Cille And the Columban Tradition
Mackey, James: An Introduction to Celtic Christianity
Marsden, John: Sea-Road of the Saints Celtic Holy Men In the Hebrides
McColman, Carl: Christian Mystic’s: 108 Seers, Saints, and Sages
McIntosh, Kenneth: Water From and Ancient Well: Celtic Spirituality For Modern Life; Using story, scripture, reflection, and prayer, this book offers readers a taste of the living water that refreshed the ancient Celts. The author invites readers to imitate the Celtic saints who were aware of God as a living presence in everybody and everything.
McNeill, John: The Celtic Churches, AD 200 – 1200
Mitton, Michael: Restoring the Woven Cord
Newell, J Philip: Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality; Discusses how different persons from the Celtic tradition serve the common theme of carefully listening to God.
Christ of the Celts: The Healing of Creation; Newell connects the Celtic tradition with our more conventional Christian beliefs and offers a vision of concern for healing creation and the environment. This is a must read book for all who are passionately concerned for our world.
Celtic Prayers from Iona: The Heart of Celtic Spirituality
The Book of Creation: An Introduction to Celtic Spirituality
Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul: Celtic Wisdom for Reawakening to What Our Souls Know and Healing the World
Newman, Rodney: Journeys with Celtic Christians; This easy to read introduction to Celtic spirituality invites readers to experience their personal faith journey through Celtic lenses. Readers are encouraged to consider the many ways pilgrimage shapes their personal faith. This book with its accompanying Leaders Guide is ideal for small groups and book clubs.
Northumbrian Community: Celtic Daily 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’Donohue, John: To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings This is my favourite of O’Donohue’s books. A wonderful collection of prayers and blessings for many occasions.
Walking in Wonder: Eternal Wisdom for a Modern World
Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom This is the best known of his books. AnamCara is the Gaelic word for “soul friend” a concept that O’Donohue explains in this book as well as unfolding much of his Celtic wisdom.
O’Donohue, Noel Dermont: Angels Keep Their Ancient Places: Reflections on Celtic Spirituality
Ramirez, Janina: The Private Lives of the Saints
Rees, Elizabeth: Celtic Saints Passionate Wanderers
Sharkey, John: Celtic High Crosses of Wales
Simpson, Ray: Exploring Celtic Spirituality; Founder of St. Aidan Trust, Ray Simpson offers a vision of the future as well as an exploration of our Celtic roots. Like Newell, he sees the Gospel of John as representative of the Celtic & Eastern Churches, balancing the Petrine & Pauline legs of the Christian tripod.
A Holy Island Prayer Book
Sellner, Ed: Wisdom of the Celtic Saints; This is an excellent collection of stories and legends of various saints, including some of the more obscure. Particularly useful is the introduction identifying hallmarks of the Celtic Christian worldview.
Stories of the Celtic Soul Friend; Tracking the anamchara concept of the Celtic Christians, Dr. Sellner explores the spiritual practice of the soul-friend relationship in the Celtic church. He also follows it as an overall icon of the value of relationship in the Celtic Christian culture.
Stimson, Edward W.: Renewal in Christ, As the Celtic Church led “The Way”
Taylor, Thomas: The Celtic Christianity of Cornwall
Telepneff, Father Gregory: The Egyptian Desert In the Irish Bogs
Toulson, Shirley: The Celtic Year A Celebration of Christian Saints, Sites and Festivals
Valters Painter, Christine: The Soul’s Slow Ripening In this book Christine introduces us to 12 Celtic practices. She begins each chapter with the story of a Celtic saint. A delightful and enriching book.
Earth Our Original Monastery: Cultivating Wonder and Gratitude through Intimacy with Nature
The Soul of a Pilgrim
Van de Weyer, Robert: Celtic Fire; A great whimsical collection of prayers. Good as an introduction for those that know nothing about Celtic spirituality. I love this book, which was the first gift Tom ever gave me.
Woods, Richard J.: The Spirituality of the Celtic Saints
Beuchner, Frederick: Brendan, A Novel interweaves history and legend to re-create the life of St. Brendan the voyager whose story is related here by his long-time friend and travelling companion, Finn.
Trantor, Nigel: Columba; This is the story of St. Columba. Born an Irish prince he left his beloved country after a dispute that resulted in war, to found and become abbot of the Celtic monastery on Iona.
Tremayne, Peter: Absolution by Murder; This first book in a set of murder mysteries by the author takes place at the synod of Whitby in 664. Sister Fidelma of the Celtic Church (Irish and an advocate for the Brehon Court) and Brother Eadulf of the Roman church (from east Anglia and of a family of hereditary magistrates) set out to find the killer. Helpful in understanding some of the conflicts between the Celtic and Roman churches.
The Iona Worship Group has produced several CDs of beautiful worship songs.
Eden’s Bridge, Celtic Psalms. I particularly enjoy their version of The Lord is My Light.
My favourite writer of Celtic prayers is John Birch at Faith and Worship.
Another great Facebook group for some wonderful photos, prayers and links, check out The Celtic Christian Tradition.
The Celtic Center offers an extensive resource list including books and other resources that are worth taking a look at.
I have also posted a number of Celtic liturgies and blessings on Godspace. You might like to check out some of these too: