Celtic Resource List

by Christine Sine

This post is out of date. Please check out this updated post.

Celtic cross

As you know I am getting ready for our annual Celtic retreat, and so am revisiting many of the Celtic prayer books on my shelves. This last week I received several requests for a reading list so it seems like an appropriate time to update my Celtic resource list. This list is part of 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. 

Adam, David 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 of 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 books’ core.  The second half provides prayer for special needs and extraordinary occasions.

_______________________      Blessings for the Fast Paced & Cyberspaced;  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.

The Iona Community  Iona Abbey Worship Book; 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. 

Newell, J. Philip,  The Book of Creation; An Introduction to Celtic Spirituality This series of meditations on the seven days of creation explores aspects of God infused in the Celtic Christian ethos.   Seldom does our tradition consider the wildness, the fecundity, and the creatureliness of God.  But Newell does in a manner that enchants and inspires and enlarges our awareness of God in creation.  Must read!

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 and 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. 

Online Resources

My favourite writer of Celtic prayers today is John Birch at Faith and Worship.

And for some wonderful photos, prayers and links check out The Celtic Christian Tradition on Facebook

I have also posted a number of Celtic liturgies and blessings on Godspace. You might like to check out some of these too:

A Celtic Hospitality Liturgy

Let Us Go Forth – A Celtic Sending Out Prayer

Brigid’s Feast

A Celtic Blessing

An Irish Blessing by John O’Donohue

Irish Blessings for St Patrick’s Day

St Patrick’s Breastplate – a responsive liturgy


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Lynette June 26, 2014 - 1:47 am

Brendan O’Malley has written several books but his “Celtic Primer” and “Lord of Creation” I have found invaluable for as resources for worship and creative spirituality

Christine Sine June 26, 2014 - 6:16 am

I agree Lynette and they are on the longer Celtic biography list. I had trouble keeping this list to a reasonable length without overwhelming people who are new to this tradition.

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