Listen to Dr John O'Keeffe discuss his new publication on the masses of Peadar and Seán Ó Riada on BBC Radio Ulster's Blas programme.
Seán Ó Riada’s Mass, Ceol an Aifrinn, containing such iconic settings as Ár nÁthair, Is Naofa and Ag Críost an síol, emerged at a crucial historical juncture when Irish people were, under Ó Riada’s own considerable influence, beginning to rediscover the dignity of their native musical tradition, and the Catholic Church, following Vatican II, was beginning to explore the liturgical potential of vernacular languages and cultures. Written for the Irish-speaking community of Cúil Aodha in west Cork, it was to be the first of three Ó Riada Masses which drew on a rich oral song tradition.
John O’Keeffe’s The Masses of Seán and Peadar Ó Riada: Explorations in Vernacular Chant, published in the 50th anniversary year of the Vatican II instruction Musicam Sacram, examines in detail the contents of Ceol an Aifrinn (also approaching its 50th birthday), together with those of the composer’s Aifreann 2 (written for the Benedictines at Glenstal Abbey) and Aifreann Eoin na Croise, written by Seán’s son, Peadar Ó Riada. The material is considered from the following perspectives: as emanating from a living culture of native traditional song; as part of a historical continuum of monophonic liturgical composition for the Roman rite; as part of a broader aesthetic context of text-music relationships found in the repertoires of plainchant, medieval song and folksong; and finally, as part of the new liturgical reality brought about by the reforms of Vatican II.
The book assesses the achievements of both composers, measuring their work against the heritage, discipline and compositional principles of western plainchant, and heralding its significance as a model for contemporary vernacular liturgical music.
For more information and to purchase the book, please visit Cork University Press.