RIZZA: THE CELTIC COLLECTION
MP3 files lightweight and portable, great for storing on a phone, home audio system or portable music player. Their small size comes at the cost of some loss in quality.
FLAC files are direct equivalents of the files used in CD production. They are larger than MP3 files and retain audio integrity, but are not as widely supported.
ALAC files are similar to FLAC files, but use a lossless format which allows them to be used in all Apple products and software.
For an in-depth comparison, see our page on digital formats.
About this release
The album features music for upper voices and harp by 20th century composers Benjamin Britten and Gustav Holst. A collaboration in 2017 between Winchester College Chapel Choir and British harpist Katie Salomon, the recording captures the trebles (boys) at their best under the masterful direction of Malcolm Archer.
Alongside A Ceremony of Carols and excerpts from Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda (sung in English) is a performance of Britten’s Suite for Harp by Katie Salomon.
Commissioned Programme Note
I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the threeness, through confession to the oneness of the Creator of Creation… I arise today through strength of heaven, light of sun, radiance of moon, splendour of re, speed of lightning, swiftness of wind, depth of sea, stability of earth, firmness of rock… Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me… I arise today.”
What powerful and passionate words these are of St Patrick as he describes life lived through the invocation of the Trinity!
I was first introduced to Celtic Spirituality through the writings and beautiful prayers of David Adam. This led me to the writings of Alexander Carmichael, who for sixty years pursued his life-long passion for pilgrimages to the Outer Hebrides. The fruit of these travels was written up in his famous book, Carmina Gadelica. The writings and prayers were recorded from a world in which people were ‘full of hymns and prayers, full of music and songs, full of joy and melody and innocent merriment.’
It has been a great joy to work once again with Tim Ruffer, Head of Publishing at the Royal School of Church Music and to share in his enthusiasm and encouragement for this collection.
Prayer was the daily rhythm which marked these people’s lives— prayers from dawn to dusk, prayers for the night, prayers from birth to death. These people of the Isles lived quite naturally in a state of prayer. They recognised God as Trinity—Father, Son and Sacred Spirit which gave an immediate and deeply rooted spiritual reality to their lives that permeated everything they did.
As we began to go through some of the prayers, I was caught and held by the beauty of these verses and by the rhythmic vitality which pulsated through them. I began to be aware of the mystery which was rooted in this ‘down to earth’ spirituality, and I found it is very bound up in the ordinary and familiar. There was a sense of the sacred in the most ordinary and mundane things that they did like kindling a re, bathing a baby, cooking a meal, growing the food that they ate and so on. To quote Elizabeth Barrett Browning, ‘they saw earth crammed with heaven, and every common bush a re with God.’ All was seem as gift and an offering in gratitude to God.
As I began to set these sacred words to music I realised that I was standing on Holy Ground; I had to keep reminding myself of this oral tradition of simplicity which would enable the words to be easily picked up, memorised and taken into the heart thus becoming prayer.
Most of the music I have set is very simple indeed. Some is in a chant-like mode or set as a straight verse mode. Some of the chants I have written endeavour to echo the rhythmic strands which I found woven into the fabric of the words. I found that this blended our own heart beat with God’s eternal pulse deep within our being. Some of the chants and prayers have been enriched with instrumental variations which pick up and develop the underlying prayer, bringing in a new voice to proclaim our gratitude and love of God.
I think setting music to these beautiful prayers has reminded me that it is never too late to stand on the threshold and marvel at the grandeur of God in all its richness—to be surrounded by God’s presence in the ordinary and seemingly mundane things as we go about out daily lives discovering the hidden sacredness in God’s creation. Read more
The eighteen pieces on this CD are made up of four choral pieces with organ (keyboard), three SATB ‘a cappella’ pieces and eleven choral pieces with organ (keyboard) and optional instrumental accompaniment. Many of these pieces are very simple indeed and could be sung by the smallest of parish choirs adapting where necessary.
The collection opens with A Celtic Blessing. I have set this opening chant in a traditional chant mode. It is scored for SATB, organ and instrumental accompaniment and opens with an instrumental interlude. The blessing is first introduced by a solo soprano which is then taken up by the whole choir, and the chant continues to alternate between the choir chanting the words and the instrumental variations response to the blessing.
This is a chant which I wrote for my first grandchild, Samuel and I remember when the family gathered round his little crib and we listened to the music. He lay there, so tiny, so beautiful, and so vulnerable. We were all embraced in this musical blessing and became part of the sacred mystery of new life.
David Adam provides the words to Circle me, Lord, which put me very much in touch with a Trinitarian cosmic dance. There is the inner and outward flow of the circling as the voices and instruments playfully intermingle with each other. The prayer is for protection and hope, keeping danger and doubt afar. It is scored for SATB, organ and a melody instrument.
May God shield me is a prayer of great simplicity asking humbly for God to shield me, to keep me, to watch me and to fill me. There is an introduction with cello and violin as a preparation for the choir who enter ‘a cappella’, the sopranos introducing the prayer with the rest of the choir humming in support. The prayer then gathers momentum in asking to be taken to the land of peace; to the peace of eternity. A clarinet begins an extended solo expressing the longing of the prayer with the choir humming in support and culminates in a full choral crescendo before the choir returns again to the initial prayer. It is dedicated to my daughter, Janie.
David Adam provides the words Awaken me, Lord, this time to a prayer asking to be awakened, awakened to the light, and to have eyes opened to the presence of the Lord.
The flute in this introduction suggests a slow and almost reluctant awakening but as the choir gains momentum they sing of awakening to the Lord’s love and to have their hearts open to His indwelling. In continuing passages the flute expresses new awakenings, and the choir responds with new affirmation asking that minds be open to the Lord’s life, to His abiding, to His purpose and to His guiding. The prayer concludes with repeated echoes to be awakened. It is scored for SATB, organ and a melody instrument.
Working with chants one can be very adventurous and work on variety. It is lovely to hear the different voices being highlighted: sometimes male; sometimes female; sometimes solo; sometimes children’s voices; and then to hear the different colours of the various instruments—all facets of God’s life, love and beauty—being revealed, poured out and manifested through our musical gifts.
In the Lord is a very simple chant affirming the gift and joy of our salvation. The Lord gives light to his creation and brings peace and true consolation. Singing chants can be sung very simply indeed even by the smallest of groups and, as with all chants, they can be adapted and used in many different ways—singing in unison or SATB. Or, the chant can be expanded to incorporate much larger forces who have more diverse musical resources at their disposal.
In this chant the instruments play an important part in responding to the choir which supports the instrumental variations. As the instruments play you will hear the choir either prayerfully praying the words or humming or using an open‘Ah’.The instruments,playing their various variations, respond to this with a fresh voice enriching and confirming the prayer which underpins their playing.
Chants can be as short as 2–3 minutes long or expanded if necessary to 8–10 minutes long; it depends on the occasion so there is much flexibility which is very helpful. I have found chanting to be a wonderful way of prayer. So, we begin the chant in the head and after some repetition the words sink down into the heart making that longest journey in the world—from head to heart and so prayer begins.
Be gentle when you touch bread is a beautiful prayer given to me by Tim Ruffer. This, and one other of the other prayers in this collection, are from a collection used during the Trinity season at St Mary’s Church, Fordingbridge, put together by Revd Mark Godson.
I found that in this prayer I was caught by the the fragile simplicity of the words and yet at a deeper level I was drawn into the powerful mystery of the Eucharist. It led me first to think about gentleness and the role it plays in my own life; the times when it is hard to be gentle, when one does not have time to be gentle and when it is easier to be in control rather than being ‘other-centered.’ The prayer speaks of the beauty of such an ordinary thing as daily bread which is touched by sun and soil, by the beauty of patient and loving toil; by winds and rain caressing it and by Christ blessing it. As I found the prayer deepening within me, the words of Jesus entered into my mind from the Gospel of John 6: 47–51—words which bring one into the mystery, the awesomeness, the gratitude and giftedness of the Eucharist. The prayer continues and in the second verse it brings in the joy and beauty of wine.
The music is set in a very simple way opening with a meditative fragment on the organ. The choir enters ‘a cappella’ reminding us to be gentle when we touch bread but never to leave it uncared for, or taken for granted, or unwanted. The music explores the many threads woven into the prayer using full and varied choral participation, and ends with contemplative thoughts on the significance of the prayer. I have dedicated this work to Tim Ruffer.
The Lightener of the stars starts with praising God, the Lightener of the stars, the transcendent God, who is in heaven on the crests of the clouds. The choristers of the sky are coming down from above to laud Him, to praise Him, as they descend to meet