For the first time ever, this year’s Irish Church Music Association (ICMA) Summer School will be hosted online from Wednesday 7 to Saturday 10 July. This year’s theme is ‘Songs of Love, Faith, Trust & Praise’. 

Each session of the Summer school will begin at 8.00pm each day on Facebook Live and YouTube. For those unable to tune in each day, a recorded version of each session will be averrable on the ICMA website.

Each session will include short liturgical and scriptural teaching interspersed with the singing of Psalm settings, old and new. Each day’s guest presentation will begin and end with sung prayer, animated by ICMA Board members. The first day will also include a welcome from ICMA Chairperson, Mary Dee, and a message from the ICMA President, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.

The Opening Liturgy for this year’s Summer School will take place as part of the session on Wednesday 7 July and this year’s Closing Mass will ve live-streamed on Saturday 10 July at 3.00pm. 

There is no charge for this year’s Summer School, though donations to defray the costs would be warmly appreciated by the ICMA. Donations can be made online via the website.  

Daily Themes and Presenters

The daily themes and presenters are as follows:

Wednesday 7 July: Songs of Love
Fr Columba McCann OSB and Regina Deacy
Beginning at 8.00pm with opening liturgy followed by presentation

Thursday 8 July: Songs of Faith
Marian Gaynor and Dominic Finn
Beginning at 8.00pm.

Friday 9 July: Songs of Trust
Fr Kieran O’Mahony OSA and Giovanna Feeley
Beginning at 8.00pm.

Saturday 10 July: Songs of Praise
Rosemary Lavelle and Ian Callanan
Beginning at 2.00pm with Closing Mass at 3.00pm.

Focus on the Psalms

This year’s Summer School is focusing on Psalms. The Book of Psalms was the prayer book of Israel, and therefore of Jesus himself as well. From earliest times, Christians made it their prayer book too, often seeing the psalms as foreshadowing the life and ministry of Christ. Jesus himself pointed towards this kind of understanding when he said, ‘everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled’ (Lk 24:44). While the use of texts from the Book of Psalms during the Eucharist is primarily associated with the song after the first reading, the Missal actually foresees the use of verses from the Psalms at the Entrance, the Preparation of the Gifts and Communion too. 

The Psalms are poetic prayers, and the range of themes and emotions they express is extraordinary. As Pope Francis said recently, ‘in them, we encounter the entire gamut of human emotions, from praise, petition and joyful thanksgiving to anguished supplication for deliverance from life’s bitter disappointments and sorrows’.

The ICMA Summer School will explore several of these different themes over the course of the week.

Summer School Virtual Choir

Commenting on this year’s Summer School ICMA Chairperson Mary Dee said, “Even though it will be an unusual Summer School, most of the usual features are included in the programme – sung prayer each day, daily input on the theme for the week and, of course, the opportunity to explore new music. And even though we cannot gather everyone in Maynooth, we will be assembling a virtual choir to pre-record the closing song for the Summer School Eucharist. 

“The virtual choir is a project that is open to all. We are inviting people to record the song ‘Praise the Lord, Sing a New Song’ and to submit their recordings to us in the various choir parts. These will be put together by the virtual choir’s musical director Ian Callanan and the completed project will feature as part of the Closing Mass. Submission details are available on our website. All members and friends of ICMA are welcome to be part of this effort as we unite our voices in praise.”

For more information on this year’s Summer School see www.icmamusic.ie.

ENDS