Hymns suggestions for the Feast of All Saints of Ireland / all the Irish Saints (6 November)

A selection of hymns and songs, based on themes from the Roman Catholic lectionary for the Feast of all Saints of Ireland (6 November) - and the general themes associated with the Irish saints.

Most are free-to-use (ie public domain or copyright-free) meaning the words can be copied and sung to at least one tune with no concerns about copyright or performance licensing. Many such hymns are old/traditional - but where possible a variety of styles / genres are included.

A small selection of hymns which are still copyright, but are a particularly good fit for the day's readings, are also included.

About all the Saints of Ireland

Pope Benedict XV instituted the Feast of All the Saints of Ireland in 1921, after Oliver Plunkett was beatified in 1920.

Only four Irish people have been officially canonised as "saints" by the Roman Catholic church.
  • Malachy (1094-1148)
  • Lawrence O’Toole (1128-80)
  • Oliver Plunkett (1625-81)
  • Charles of Mount Argus (1821-93)
But there are many others, eg Patrick, Brigid of Kildare, Kevin, Colmcille, who are regarded as saints by the local, and indeed worldwide, Church, and whose sainthood was affirmed before the formal process of canonisation was introduced.

And there are others still with a reputation for holiness but who have not yet been fully canonised, for example
  • Thaddeus MacCarthy (1455-92),
  • The seventeen Irish martyrs of the 16th and 17th centuries,
  • Edmund Ignatius Rice (1762-1844),
  • Columba Marmion (1858-1923)
  • Matt Talbot (1856-1925)
  • Edel Quinn and Alfie Lamb
  • William Doyle,

This feast includes all these people, as well as others whose lives of holiness were only known by their family, friends and neighbours.

It also echoes the idea of “the island of saints and scholars” which was a strong theme in Ireland's understanding of itself up to the middle of the twentieth century.



Hebrews  - Paul remembers the faith of the community's forebears:  "... we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, [so] let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus .. who ... endured the cross ... See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; .... Let mutual love continue.


Sirach - 44:1-15 - Let us now sing the praises of ...our ancestors in their generations. The Lord apportioned to them great glory, ...his majesty from the beginning. There were those who [exercised different gifts - including scholarship] ... Some of them have left behind a name, so that others declare their praise. ... But of others there is no memory; they have perished as though they had never existed;

Psalm 125  - Those who are sowing in tears will sing when they reap

Gospel: Luke 6 - The Beatitudes: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep ..."

Free-use hymns

An Irish Blessing

Be Thou my Vision

Blest are the Poor in Heart

Faith of our Fathers

For all the Saints - to the original tune

I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say

It may also be appropriate to use hymns suggested for the feast-days of any of the particular Irish saints, eg Patrick or Brigid.

Hymns that may still be copyright

Christ be Beside Me - Quinn

For all the Saints - to the most common tune

More resources for church-music selection ....

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