The Gartan Mother's Lullaby
Traditional Irish
Rosa Mystica
performed by Therese Schroeder-Sheker
The Chalice of Repose Project
Missoula, Montana
recorded music published by Celestial Harmonies

The Chalice of Repose

The Chalice of Repose Project is a unique end-of-life patient care program and graduate level school of music thanatology. Since 1992, this pioneering initiative has been affiliated with Saint Patrick Hospital in Missoula, Montana.

In contemplative musicianship, Chalice practitioners embrace and cultivate the spiritual dimensions required to serve the needs of the dying instrumentally and vocally. They acknowledge that music is far more than repertoire; they understand that artistry and fine-tuning reflect bodily, moral, emotional, and spiritual awarenesses, and do not isolate these realities from technical musical developments or skills. Music is understood as a transformative current that bridges and communicates, reorganizes and transforms, binds and loosens.

Chalice of Repose practitioners are musician-clinicians. They attend the death-bed vigils with live prescriptive music played at the bedside.This music is designed to the individual needs and symptoms of the person who is suffering. Practitioners, working in teams of two, position themselves on either side of the dying patient and attentively work with the musical deliveries required to support and facilitate the unbinding process that is central to a conscious, peaceful, or blessed death.

The Gartan Mother's Lullaby

The lullaby has long reflected the complexities and nuances of mothering love and feminine introspection. A recurring theme in ancient Celtic song and prayer concerns the young mother's protection of newborn children from specific kinds of elemental or fairy creatures. Although traditional cultures have always regarded nature spirits with awe and respect, a mother worried about Aoibheall or Siobhra who might steal a child to raise it "on the other side.

This Irish lullaby comes from Gartan, the birth place of the famed Columba, founder of the Benedictine monastery on Iona. Today, Iona remains one of the most revered pilgrimage and retreat centers in the world. The Iona Community, in its long time commitment to social justice, encourages us to tithe prayer each day toward the realization of world peace.

In this song, all the qualities of love lilt, lullaby, and prayer seem to merge together seamlessly. It was this song in particular, and a fourteenth century ballata by Francesco Landini named Angelic Beauty that made me turn towards harp twenty years ago. In this version, the lyric is slightly changed from the text published by Herbert Hughes in 1906.

Sleep, O Babe, till the red bee hums
the silent twilight's fall.
Aoibheall from the Grey Rock comes
to wrap the world enthrall.
I'll envy you, my child, my joy,
my love and heart's desire
The crickets sing you lullaby
beside the dying fire.

Dusk is drawn and the grain man's barn
is wreathed in rings of fog.
Siobhra sails his boat till morn
upon the starry bog.
I'll stay with you till the faded moon
has ringed our clasp with dew
And weeps to hear this lullaby:
I sing my love to you
I sing this love to you.


©Copyright Therese Schroeder-Sheker, 1996, 1990. Music Recording (p) 1990, Celestial Harmonies. All Rights Reserved. No portion of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system now or hereafter invented, without permission in writing from the Publisher.