Celtic Alleluia

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Easter hymns accomplish three functions: they recount the Easter narrative, proclaim our Easter hope, and celebrate our joy at Christ’s resurrection. This hymn is built on the professions of Easter truths that are expressed primarily in Heidelberg Catechism. Note especially the following:
  • Lord’s Day 17, Question and Answer 45 declares that Christ’s resurrection makes us share in Christ’s righteousness, raises us to a new life by his power, and is a sure pledge to us of our resurrection.
  • Lord’s Day 22, Question and Answer 57 comforts us to know that not only our soul but “also my very flesh will be raised by the power of God, reunited with my soul, and made like Christ’s glorious body.”
  • Lord’s Day 22, Question and Answer 58 says that it may be a comfort to know that while experiencing the beginning of eternal joy now, “after this life I will have perfect blessedness such as no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no human heart has ever imagined: a blessedness in which to praise God forever.”
In addition, Our Song of Hope, stanza 5 professes: “On the day of the resurrection, the tomb was empty; His disciples saw Him; death was defeated; new life had come. God’s purpose for the world was sealed.”

Words of Praise

Optional acclamation with spoken “Alleluia” or the singing of all or a portion of the above refrain.
Christ has died, Christ has risen: Alleluia!
We lift our hearts to the Lord in song: Alleluia!
With Jesus, we have died to self: Alleluia!
With Jesus, we are raised to new life: Alleluia!
Nothing can separate us from God’s love: Alleluia!
Where, O death, is your sting? Alleluia!
Thanks be to God for this indescribable gift! Alleluia!
[Add phrases as appropriate.]

Tune Information

A Major

Musical Suggestion

Celtic music is to be played with a lilt, but not without energy. Feel this song in two, and build your accompaniment around guitar or piano. This song works well on any and all instruments, but for Celtic sound, invite a fiddle player to join you, or a recorder player, or maybe someone with a good ear who can make a penny whistle sing on the descant. A percussionist is nearly essential. Even if you don’t have a bodhrán, the traditional Celtic drum, its unique sound may be effected well enough on a trap-set tom-tom. For an interesting contrast, try singing the refrain in unison, accompanied only by percussion and a string (violin or viola) drone on A and E; slide up to those pitches for a wonderfully Celtic feel. At first, consider using soloists or a choir on the stanzas, but soon everyone will want to sing it all.
Some ideas for use:
  • Introduce this song as a response to Eastertide prayers or readings.
  • Use the refrain as a response to the gospel reading (its original use) or as a response to an assurance of pardon. You may even begin the string drone and drum pattern during the reading of this assurance, building in strength until the congregation bursts out its celebratory response.
  • At the opening of an Easter service with congregational acclamations, as shown in the following three examples:
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
(All sing “Celtic Alleluia.”)
Christ is in our midst!
Was, is, and ever shall be!
(All sing “Celtic Alleluia.”)
Alleluia! Christ our Passover is sacrificed;
therefore let us keep the feast. Alleluia!
(All sing “Celtic Alleluia.”)
(from Reformed Worship, Issue 66)
— Emily Brink

Hymn Story/Background

In the summer of 1981, the Summer School of the Irish Church Music Association, under the direction of Fintan O’Carroll, premiered his Mass of the Annunciation, in which this “Alleluia” refrain, set to this melody, first appeared. O’Carroll died of a heart attack shortly afterwards.
But Christopher Walker, an English-born church musician who in 1981 served as the guest director of the Summer School fo the Irish Church Music Association, requested permission to borrow the “Alleluia” for a composition of his own as a tribute to O’Carroll’s contriutions to Christian worship. The harmonization is his.

Author and Composer Information

Fintan O’Carroll (b. Wexford, Ireland, July 31, 1922; d. Waterford, Ireland, 1981) spent most of his life in Waterford. On completion of his secondary school studies Fintan took up a position as a Clerk in C.I.E., the national railway.
He won first prize in a traditional music competition, aged 12, playing violin, and went on to study violin at home, taking lessons as and when the opportunity arose. While working at C.I.E. Fintan undertook a correspondence course in Music from Trinity College, Dublin. His heart was in music, and he left C.I.E. in 1967 after 27 years service, whereupon he completed his degree at Trinity to gain his Bachlors in Music degree along with the Prout Prize for the most outstanding student of the year. All the time Fintan had taken a keen interest in composition, particularly sacred music.
Fintan became a fulltime teacher at the Presentation Convent Secondary School in Waterford, a job which paid about half the salary in C.I.E. at the time. He supplemented his income by taking 52 private pupils, conducting 2 brass bands, and led the orchestra in every musical show that was offered.

Some of the many musical organisations that owe a debt of musical gratitude to Fintan, whether it be as leader, violinist, conductor, organist, composer, or founder include Waterford Orchestral Players; Waterford Festival of Light Opera Orchestra; St Saviours Church, Bridge Street; the Franciscan Friary; the Church of SS Josephs and Benildus; St Patrick’s; Waterford Cathedral; St Patrick’s Brass Band; HFC Brass Band, New Ross; Mount Sion Silver Band. It is particularly with the brass bands that we are interested and it is fair to say that Fintan brought a sense of musicality and musicianship to these bands which helped greatly in the development of their players and the  achievement of  competition successes at all levels. Many musicians have commented later in their life that it was the love of music instilled in them by Fintan that carried them through their own musical lives.
One of the proudest moments of Fintan’s musical career must have been when his Mass of the Immaculate Conception was chosen for the occasion of the visit of Pope John Paul II to Limerick in 1979. He took part in the Offertory Procession on this momentous occasion.
Fintan died in July 1981 and was survived by his wife Josephine, a fine contralto, to whom he credits with much of his own success. They had six children: Fiona, Deirdre, Fergus, Declan, Kevin, Aoileann, and Cian, many of which play a very active role in the musical life of Waterford and beyond.

Christopher Walker (b. London, England, June 9, 1947) is an internationally known lecturer, composer and conductor whose works encompass children’s music for liturgy and catechism plus a wealth of material for all liturgical celebrations. Christopher earned his degree in music from Bristol University, and served as director of music at Clifton Cathedral in Bristol and director of music for the Clifton Diocese. Christopher now lives in Los Angeles, where he is combining the roles of music lecturer at Mount St. Mary College and director of music and worship at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church. He is also a member of the North American Forum on the Catechumenate. He travels frequently, giving workshops and lectures on liturgy, music and children’s worship.
Hymnary.org does not have a score for this hymn.