Spencer: Irish Blessing

Sunday 20 August 2017
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Irish Blessing (May the road rise up to meet you)
Difficulty level: ** (out of *****)

This moderately-easy piece is available as a printed choral leaflet or as a PDF download.

This simple and effective setting of the traditional celtic prayer was made by Lizzy Ann Spencer (née Dunworth) for the Worth Abbey Lay Community.

It has been recorded by Herald Records and sung at many weddings and services of dedication.

unison / 2 part with piano, harp and/or guitar
SATB a capella

Suitable for weddings, funerals, rites of passage, times of change.

Difficulty level: ** (out of *****)

This moderately-easy piece is available as a printed choral leaflet or as a PDF download.

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Notes on the piece

Composer's notes

After picking up the text of this Blessing during a geology field trip to Donegal in 1988, I wrote the tune and basic guitar accompaniment during a Simon Community outing to Brighton in the summer of 1990, while the keyboard/harp accompaniment was written for Geoffrey Chapman’s Music for the Mass II in 1992. The descant was requested by and written for the wedding of Chas & Katharine McDevitt at Worth Abbey in 1999, and the SATB arrangement was written for this publication in 2008.

After 20 years, and a hat-trick of additions to the original version, I am hoping that this musical setting is now complete! Being neither a liturgical text, nor a hymn, its uses – both in style and occasion – have been very varied over the years. It has been most commonly used for liturgies and prayer services where a song of farewell, or blessing is needed. The repeat “ad lib” means that, rather like a Taizé chant, one can build it up or down, adding or removing instrumental and voice parts as desired (and as resources allow).

Let the type of prayer you are engaged in guide your hearts and your musical choices.

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The text

May the road rise up to meet you,
may the wind be always at your back;
may the sun shine warm upon your face
and the rain fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again
may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

traditional

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