Beetschen: A Celtic Prayer

Monday 17 June 2024
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Matthew Beetschen: A Celtic Prayer
Difficulty level: *** (out of *****)

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

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Matthew Beetschen (Organist at Dunfermline Abbey, Scotland) has made a beautiful setting of this lovely prayer by Alistair Maclean telling of the gift of this new day to us, and asking that we "bear ourselves gently towards all"; that our thoughts may be mirrors of God's thoughts.
SATB choir (with some divisions) and organ

Beginning of A Celtic Prayer
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Sung on BBC Radio 3 Choral Evensong


RSCM Millenium Youth Choir singing A Celtic Prayer 
Photo: Stuart Robinson 

This piece was sung by the RSCM Millennium Youth Choir, conducted by David Ogden, during a live BBC Radio 3 broadcast of Choral Evensong on Sunday 2nd September 2007 from Dunblane Cathedral, Scotland.

About the text

The text of this piece is adapted (anonymously) from "An Island Girl Prays upon a June Morning" in Hebridean Altars by Rev Alistair Maclean, Church of Scotland minister, Gaelic scholar, and father of the famous novelist.

David Adam, whose Foreword appears in the recent Hodder & Stoughton edition (London, undated), writes of these texts,

"here is music indeed that will give rhythm to our lives … thoughts and prayers [that] can pluck at the very strings of our heart and soul. Time and again there is a wonderful way of learning to accept the new day as a gift, a mystery and a companioning with God" (p.xii).

(Although we have plenty of copies of the music, unfortunately, the book in which this text appears seems to be out of print, though you may be able to obtain it from church bookstalls or through (its ISBN is 0-340-73557-0).

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The text

This day is your love-gift to us.
This dawn, we take it from your hand.

Make us busy in your service throughout its hours,
yet not so busy that we cannot sing a happy song.

And may the south wind
blow its tenderness through our hearts,
that we bear ourselves gently towards all.

And may the sunshine of it pass into our thoughts,
so that each shall be a mirror of your thought,
noble and right.

adapted from Hebridean Altars by Alistair Maclean,
Moray Press 1937



…it was rather nice, I thought, to hear a short introit by the Dunblane organist - the more so because it was a lovely setting and very well sung.

SimonSays (BBC Messageboard)

Beautiful, beautiful piece of music and really suits the words.

Sue Moore, London, England


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