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Bishop Denis launches new setting of the Mass by Newbridge composer Padraig Meredith

  • Mass of the People was performed for the first time by local choir ‘In Caelo’ under the baton of Cora Coffey

Bishop Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin has launched a new setting of the Mass by Newbridge composer Padraig Meredith. The Mass was launched in Saint Conleth’s Parish Church, Newbridge on Sunday 26 February at the 12.30pm Mass.

Padraig Meredith is a composer from Newbridge, Co Kildare who specialises in liturgical music. His new setting of the Mass is entitled Mass of the People and was performed for the first time by local choir ‘In Caelo’ under the baton of Cora Coffey, Musical Director.

The Mass of the People includes new settings of the pieces sung/spoken at every Mass – the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Gospel Acclamation, the Holy Holy, the Memorial Acclamation, the Doxology & Great Amen, and the Lamb of God. The Mass will also feature two additional pieces by Padraig including the first performance by the Fox sisters of a new psalm entitled In God Alone and the Communion hymn Our Blessing Cup performed by soloist Teresa Lynch.

Speaking at Sunday’s Mass, Bishop Nulty said, “Music is a central element of our Catholic worship. In fact it is an integral element of most faiths. We give thanks and praise to God through our music and it reveals the truths of our faith.

“Instrumental music can express both our human emotions before God and God’s healing presence to us in a way that no other medium can. There is nothing to equal the oboe, the harp and the flute during an offertory procession. There is equally nothing more beautiful than to hear a choir like ‘In Caelo’ who have been rehearsing these new Mass parts composed by Padraig for weeks.

“I think it’s great to have a new Mass setting. Music selections need to serve and enhance our prayer and Padraig’s new melodies do just that. I thank Padraig, Cora and all in ‘In Caelo’ for their prayerful expression today of the Mass of the People.”

Commenting on how he came to write the new Mass setting, composer Padraig Meredith said, “The Mass came about through my long association with ‘In Caelo’ choir and their Musical Director Cora Coffey. I have written many Church pieces, but I never had the kind of response from performers which I receive every time I bring ‘In Caelo’ a new piece. I wanted to thank the choir for their support over the years by composing a special piece for them, but that didn’t seem enough so I decided to compose an entire Mass setting for them. The setting is called Mass of the People because it is a gift not just for ‘In Caelo’, but for all the parishioners of Newbridge.

Padraig went on to say, “I have worked in Newbridge Parish for the past twenty-four years, first as an altar server, then as a junior sacristan, as a helper on the annual Lourdes pilgrimage, and as a choir member singing with the tenors in ‘In Caelo’. I went on to play piano for ‘In Caelo’ and eventually turned to composing for them.

“I have proudly represented Newbridge Parish at four World Youth Days in Toronto, Cologne, Sydney, and Madrid. Outside of our diocese I have also represented our parish at the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin in 2012 as a pianist and member of the chamber choir, and I also composed the official anthem for the Dublin Archdiocese Year of Evangelisation.”

Padraig went on to share some of the spirit of his local parish, saying, “Newbridge parish has a spirit which is unlike another parish. I love liturgy, all types of liturgy, from the joy of a Christmas Eve or Easter Saturday liturgy, to the sombre and muted mood of Good Friday. Whether it is a joyful or a sombre occasion Newbridge parish is able to achieve in communicating a warm, peaceful, calm, and reflective mood. Our parish church is a place of welcome, light, warmth, and heart. My Mass setting tries to capture the various moods of the Church calendar. Each piece has a separate character which matches the tone of that moment in the liturgy where it is placed. The Mass setting tried to achieve a goal of being inclusive for all the congregation by (hopefully) being ‘singable’ by everyone. Hopefully the congregation will leave the liturgy happy and humming!”

Speaking about the launch of the new Mass, Father Paul Dempsey, Parish Priest of Saint Conleth’s Parish, Newbridge, said, “Sunday, 26 February marked a significant day in our parish diary as we launched Padraig’s Mass of the People.  Down through the years Padraig has been most generous in giving of his time to enhance the liturgy in the parish through his musical talent.  He is a very gifted musician and we are extremely fortunate to be able to draw on this giftedness in Saint Conleth’s.  As the Church faces many challenges in a changed and changing culture, many people drift along as many familiar anchors in society have disappeared.  As a Church we must respond by inviting people to participate in the liturgy –  a liturgy that is vibrant, joyful and well prepared, a liturgy that will touch people’s hearts and help them experience the deep love of Jesus Christ.  Good music is critical to this and contributes to the Eucharist being the ‘summit and source’ of the Church’s life.  Through his new Mass setting, Mass of the People, Padraig is making a major contribution to the life of the Church in Ireland today.  I wish him every blessing and thank him for sharing his gifts so generously with us here in Saint Conleth’s Parish.”

The Musical Director of ‘In Caelo’ is Cora Coffey, and the ensemble for the launch Mass included Pádraig Meredith on piano, Caroline Sutton on violin,  Derek Duffy on guitar, and Mary Farrell on Irish Harp.

Commenting at the launch Cora Coffey said, “In Caelo has come a long way since it began in 1997. Myself and Padraig were original members of the choir. We all knew that Padraig was destined for greater things and he has proved us right! ‘In Caelo’ are honoured that he has chosen us to perform his beautiful new Mass setting.  I wish him every success for the future and ‘In Caelo’ looks forward to many more collaborations with him.”