- 1A Celtic BlessingMargaret Rizza
- 2Circle me, LordMargaret Rizza
- 3May God shield meMargaret Rizza
- 4Awaken me, LordMargaret Rizza
- 5In the Lord is my joyMargaret Rizza
- 6Be gentle when you touch breadMargaret Rizza
- 7The Lightener of the starsMargaret Rizza
- 8Jesu, meet it were to praise himMargaret Rizza
- 9Hymn of St PatrickMargaret Rizza
- 10A Celtic DoxologyMargaret Rizza
- 11Christ as a lightMargaret Rizza
- 12SupplicationMargaret Rizza
- 13God with my lying downMargaret Rizza
- 14Gaelic BlessingMargaret Rizza
- 15Prayer of St PatrickMargaret Rizza
- 16Celtic Birth baptismMargaret Rizza
- 17EnfoldingMargaret Rizza
- 18Trinity BlessingMargaret Rizza
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Margaret Rizza & Ben Lamb
Margaret Rizza: The Celtic Collection
Ben Lamb & Sarum Voices
- OrganCathy Lamb
- FluteMary Chelu
- FluteTim Ruffer
- ViolinDaphne Forbes
- CelloMatthew Forbes
- OboeRosalie Watson
- TrumpetMartin Ings
- ClarinetJennifer Tilley
The eighteen pieces in this collection are made up of four choral pieces with organ (keyboard), three SATB a capella 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.
“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 fire, 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.’ 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.
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.
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 fire, 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 afire 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.
Margaret Rizza – 2016
Margaret Rizza studied at the Royal College of Music, London and at the National School of Opera, London, and continued her training in Siena and Rome, Italy.
She sang professionally for 25 years, under the name of Margaret Lensky. She has sung at many of the leading concert and operatic venues and under such conductors as Benjamin Britten, Igor Stravinsky and Leonard Bernstein. She also gave premiers of works by John Tavener, Thea Musgrave and Richard Rodney Bennett.
She then went on to teach singing at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London from 1977 to 1994.
She has trained and directed the senior choral singing at Sevenoaks School, Walthamstow Hall School and Combe Bank School. Many groups and ensembles were founded and directed by her including The London Camerata, The Cameo Opera Group, St Thomas Music Group and the Gaudete Ensemble, the last two groups having been involved in many recordings.
In 1986 she dedicated herself to the work of spirituality and to the wider aspect of music in the community. While she was at Guildhall she worked on many outreach projects taking groups of students to share their music with people in prisons, hospitals, hospices, inner city schools, MS centres, blind schools and working with people with physical and learning difficulties.
Margaret was also involved with Live Music Now, a wonderful organization founded by Yehudi Menuhin, who wrote ‘I can only think of music as something inherent in every human being—a birthright. Music co-ordinates mind, body and spirit.’
During this time she began her work in the field of spirituality working with The World Community for Christian Meditation leading many retreats, prayer and music days and vocal and choral workshops.
She was closely involved with Dartington International Summer School giving master classes and vocal workshops over many years up until 2008.
She began composing in 1997, her contemplative choral music being widely acclaimed not only in the U.K. but also abroad. She has given many seminars and conferences all featuring her music in the U.S.A, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Ireland as well as leading many choral and vocal workshops in this country.
Since composing she has made many recordings. Her original arrangements of Taizé chants reached number 1 in the charts and was featured on Classic FM over several weeks in 2006. She was featured in the BBC Songs of Praise programme ‘Women Composers’ in 2007 and in this same year she was invited by Harry Christophers to write a choral composition for The Sixteen. This resulted in ‘Ave Generosa’ which was recorded on the CD ‘A Mother’s Love.’ This was given its first performance at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2008.
It was premiered in the USA in 2009 and her ‘O Speculum Columbe’ was premiered also in the USA in 2011.
Margaret’s debut album of works Officium Divinum was released worldwide on Convivium Records in 2013, going on to achieve widespread critical acclaim.
Much of Margaret’s music is published by The Royal School of Church Music (RSCM).
Ben Lamb is joint Director of Music at Lichfield Cathedral—a post which he shares with his wife, Cathy.
His love of choral music was kindled as a chorister at Salisbury Cathedral and has been a key part of his life ever since, and led to his founding Sarum Voices in the late 1990s.
Prior to his move to the Midlands, he held organ scholarships at Truro and Salisbury Cathedrals, and was Organist and Master of the Choristers at St Peter’s Bournemouth.
Upon Cathy’s appointment as Assistant Organist at Lichfield Cathedral, he took up the post of Director of Music Outreach at St Peter’s Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton, and combined this with singing work at Birmingham Cathedral until an Alto vacancy came up in Lichfield Cathedral Choir. He then spent two years in the back row until the Cathedral took the unusual decision to offer him and Cathy the Director of Music position.
He is delighted to have been able to keep Sarum Voices going all this time: this choir remains a passion central to his life.
Sarum Voices was born out of necessity when a visiting choir failed to arrive at Salisbury Cathedral. Such fun was had on the first outing that other performance opportunities were sought, and the choir has now recorded numerous CDs (notably Juxta Crucem and A Ceremony of Carols, both
of which received rave reviews on BBC radio 3), toured Europe and South America, and performs regularly in Salisbury and across the country for weddings and concerts.
Many of our singers were originally choristers at Salisbury Cathedral, but over the years we have broadened the net to include other like- minded musicians.
For several years we have made Sarum St Martin our spiritual home, and we return to the church for at least one concert per year, and is our recording venue of choice.
- 29 Aug 2017 Margaret Rizza: “The renowned composer of Christian choral music” (Cross Rhythms)
- 11 Aug 2017 “Words alone cannot begin to describe the emotional and dramatic content of this outstanding programme…” Angels of Creation (Organist’s Review – Editor’s Choice)
- 1 Jul 2017 “An intriguing and most rewarding disc combining Croydon Minster Choir and the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble… (Dr. Hugh Benham ★★★★★)
- 24 Jun 2017 “Beautifully written, deeply expressive of the texts… superlative performances” Dan Locklair’s Gloria (American Record Guide)
- 10 Jun 2017 “Cesari embraces the virtuosic…” James Ember: Traces for Solo Flute (La Folia)