As I am reflecting on past Celtic retreats we used to hold, I am also am 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.
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.
Bradley, Ian: The Celtic Way; Still the best basic overview of Celtic Christianity. Often used as the text for initial classes on Celtic spirituality.
______________ 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.
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.
DeWaal, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rev Brenda Warren has an excellent resource Celts to the Creche, that she put together several years ago for Advent. I highly recommend walking through the season (or any other season) with her help.
I have also posted a number of Celtic liturgies and blessings on Godspace. You might like to check out some of these too: