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Christians unite in ‘virtual’ tribute to frontline workers

By Sarah Mac Donald - 14 May, 2020

Singers and musicians from churches north and south of the border are to join together in a “virtual” music tribute to frontline workers which will be released on Pentecost Sunday.

According to Ethan Tohill, a spokesperson for the event, the initiative aims to unite the Christians of Ireland in song, and to pray a blessing for care workers in these unprecedented times.

Inspired by similar initiatives in the UK and South Africa, ‘The Irish Blessing’, as the event is being called, aims to engage musicians from the various Churches in Ireland in a performance of the Irish hymn ‘Be Thou My Vision’.

The musical performance that results from this collaboration is intended as a tribute to the dedicated service of all involved in providing essential services during these restricted times.

Singers and musicians in churches across Ireland are being invited to take part in the unique singing, musical and blessing experience by selecting a facility which provides an essential service and dedicating their rendition ‘Be Thou my Vision’ to that facility.

The final collaborative video of all the participating musicians and singers will be released on YouTube on Pentecost Sunday, 31 May 2020.

One of the organisers of the ecumenical initiative is Fr Martin Magill, parish priest of St John the Evangelist church in Belfast.

He explained that the words of the hymn ‘Be Thou My Vision’ can be traced back to between the 5th and 9th centuries in Ireland.

They are linked to “a tradition of a prayer for protection known as ‘lorica’ which is the Latin for armour or breastplate. The references in the prayer to armour and sword are thought to be inspired by some of the imagery in St Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians 6:16-17 such as ‘shield of faith’, ‘helmet of salvation’ and ‘the sword of the Spirit’. Praying for protection and blessing is particularly apt during these times,” said Fr Magill.

Fellow organiser, Philip McKinley, a Dublin-based Church of Ireland ordinand said, “God blesses us abundantly and is present with us, even in very difficult times. This song is an invitation to lift our eyes, to shift our vision far beyond ourselves, to Him. Ireland is famous for its blessings, words to encourage friends, family and neighbours along the journey. We want to bless those on the frontlines with words of hope and life and relationship with the creator of all things.”

Once recordings are completed, churches are invited to submit these recordings to a central coordinating team where they will be considered for inclusion in the all-island version of the hymn.

Church-based singers or musicians are invited to download the Recording Guide Pack from www.theirishblessing.com on Saturday 16th May 2020.

The deadline for recorded submissions is 12 noon on Friday 22nd May 2020.

The team delivering the final video includes of Greg Fromholz, Jonny Rea, Stu Reid, Caren Collins, Ethan Tohill, Pauline Alton, Rev Rob Jones, Ciaran Corrigan, Philip McKinley and Fr Martin Magill.

Live streaming of Masses and Services from churches in Ireland and the UK can be found here: http://churchservices.tv

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