CD: Prayer

Prayer by Janet Harbison

CD Cover: Prayer  by Janet HarbisonThe inspiration for this harp project arose from a small legacy left by a patient in the Northern Ireland Hospice in 1986 who wished that Janet's music would still be available to the patients at the hospice after she took up a full time job and could no longer play for the Day Hospice Programme.

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Click here for contact details, recordings & sheet music from Janet Harbison & The Irish Harp Orchestra

Audio Samples

Album Information

Instruments: Irish Harp & Voice
Genre: Traditional / Contemporary
Format: CD
Our Ref: A0036
Label: Irish Harp Centre
Year: 2001
Origin: EU

Track Listings

01 Suantrai (Lullaby for Daniel) * 3.09
02 Amazing Grace 2.33
03 The Deer's Cry (Criost Liom : Christ be with Me) * 3.36
04 Ag Criost an Siol (Christ the Seed, Christ the Harvest) 2.56
05 Abide with Me 2.23
06 The Lord is my Shepherd (Psalm 23) 2.22
07 Be Thou My Vision 2.28
08 Tantum Ergo (Plainsong) 2.19
09 Be Still My Soul Jean Sibelius from 'Finlandia' 2.39
10 O Son of Man (Londonderry Air) 3.43
11 Ár nAthair (The Lord's Prayer) * 3.17
12 Meditation for Absent Friends (For Basil) * 2.44
13 Hymn to Saint Francis 2.26
14 Nearer My God 2.52
15 Prayer (Improvisation) * 4.06
  * Original Compositions by Janet Harbison  

CD Notes & Credits

Sleeve Notes
Image: Prayer - Sacred Music on the Irish Harp for comfort and contemplation

Janet Harbison has spent many years performing as an Irish Harper, solo, and directing the world famous (and Grammy Award winning!) Belfast Harp Orchestra. She is also a well known composer, teacher and writer of books of and about harp music, traditional music and cultural heritage, particularly in Northern Ireland where she has lived for eighteen years. She has pioneered the ancient oral tradition of playing and teaching and is an acknowledged authority on the history and practice of Irish harping through the ages.

As well as performing professionally in the public arena, Janet has had a special interest in working with the sick and troubled and has worked quietly for many years in the hospice and hospitals environment. The form of therapy in which she specialises is palliative - that is that she brings music to the bedside of the patient and by using improvisation techniques, works with their body rhythms achieving direct impact on blood pressure, pain relief, stress control, the harmonising of the limbic system, and the enhancement of general well-being.

Her hope is that this recording will bring calm and comfort to many, many people, for the sick and the healthy, who all may find some favourite melodies to accompany their quiet time and prayer.

Scan of message written by Janet Harbison
Programme Notes

1 Suantrai (Lullaby for Daniel)
This is the tune that I composed in 1986 for the comforting of my brother Tony and his wife Katheryn on the tragic death of their 10 month old baby, Daniel. Daniel had been very ill from birth, and some months before he passed on, a fund was established by Tony and Katheryn's friends to pay for home nursing care for their sick child. The fund evolved into the national charity A Nurse for Daniel.

2 Amazing Grace
This song and prayer for a long time meant very little to me, but recently when I underwent a significant spiritual awakening myself, when I found that lhc grace of God could indeed be truly amazing, its specialness came home to me. I have always found that it was a particularly popular hymn to all denominations, and I have often been requested to play it at weddings! Also, in the wake of the recent tragedy in New York and Washington DC in America, this has become a particularly meaningful theme in the comforting of the bereaved.

3 The Deer's Cry (Criost Liom : Christ be with Me)
This was one of my earliest compositions and is the melody I put with one of Ireland's most magnificent and powerful prayers, St.Patrick's Breastplate.

4 Ag Criost an Siol (Christ the Seed, Christ the Harvest)
Composed by the late Sean O Riada as part of his mass, this has become one of Ireland's best loved hymns in the Irish language.

5 Abide with Me
One of the most emotive hymns particularly for those who lived through the world wars. Melody: W.H. Monk

6 The Lord is my Shepherd (Psalm 23)
Surely the best known of the psalms, this one is every soul's prayer for life. Melody: J.S. Irvine

7 Be Thou My Vision
An ancient Irish hymn that has never faded with the generations.

8 Tantum Ergo (Plainsong)
In the Dominican Convent, Sion Hill where I went to school, we always sang Benediction, and this has remained with me as one of my most favourite Latin chants.

9 Be Still My Soul Jean Sibelius from 'Finlandia'
This is perhaps a strange one to include here, but the sentiment and music is powerful, with a prayer for all humanity.

10 O Son of Man (Londonderry Air)
The Londonderry Air is Ireland's best known melody which evolved to its current form in the early 20th century. Many versions of it exist however in both sacred and secular music repertoires in Ireland, and the rendition of it here is offered to fit whichever is your favourite setting.

11 Ár nAthair (The Lord's Prayer)
I like to chant my daily prayer to harp accompaniment. This melody allows me to sing the Lords prayer in Irish and English. I have to thank the Rev. William Crawley, formerly of Fisherwick Presbyterian Church, Belfast for encouraging me to formalise my setting of it.

12 Meditation for Absent Friends (For Basil)
Composed in 1985 for a great friend and mentor, Basil Wilson, who was an archaeologist and passionate Irish scholar in Queen's University, Belfast. He was the chairman of the university's Institute of Irish Studies, where I spent 2 years from 1984 as a Junior Research Fellow. While I composed the piece for him when he was ill, unfortunately, its first performance was at his funeral. It is dedicated to his memory and was a gift to Anna, his wife with whom I lived for over 6 months after his death.

13 Hymn to Saint Francis Sebastian Temple
(Make me a Channel of your Peace)

This hymn is one of Northern Ireland's most cherished hymns and all of us who have worked in the peace and reconciliation environment hold it as our own.

14 Nearer My God
Although this is a universally loved hymn it is also particularly meaningful for the many very poorly people I have played to by their bedsides. This is dedicated to Albert, the patient in the Northern Ireland Hospice who left a legacy for me to make this recording.

15 Prayer (Improvisation)
This piece is a quiet improvisation to which the listener might intone their own prayer or simply allow peaceful sleep to come.

This recording is a gift to all who need some quiet time and sacred space in their lives.
Janet Harbison, Belfast, December 12th, 2000

To Albert and my anonyrnous sponsors who assisted bringing this CD to fruition, I am enormously grateful. I also wish to thank Reverend Derek McKelvey at Fisherwick Church who has been an inspiring minister on my spiritual journey and who generously gave permission for the photographs to be used; to my old friend, photographer Leslie Doyle for the pics; to Patrick Dalgety of Green Dolphin Studios who has been a constant friend and guide throuph the complexities of production; to Donald Neil of Priory Press who has been my faithful designer many years; to my very special mother and extended family for their love and support through happy and sad times, and to God and his chorus of harp-playing angels who have always been my guiding guardians.

The Cover Illustration:
Janet with her harp and the "Angel of Healing" from the magnificent window of the South transcept in Fisherwick Presbyterian Church, Malone Road, Belfast. This was created by Burne-Jones of the William Morris school, and erected in 1930 by John C Craig and his sisters as a memorial to their parents. The scripture reading in the window is

"Unto you that fear my name shall the son of righteousness arise with healing in his wings" Malachi 4:2

Notes on the Charities

Originally set up in February 1996 to help toward the cost of an intensive care nurse for baby Daniel Harbison. Due to birth asphyxiation, Daniel was born very severely brain damaged, and was given a short time to live. It was his parents’ dearest wish to be able to bring Daniel home so they could have memories of a home life with him. Daniel died in April 1996. A Nurse for Daniel Fund is now continuing to help other families in similar situations allowing them to function normally with as little disruption as possible, thus making the time with their terminally ill child a precious memory.

Logo for Marie Curie Cancer Care

The Marie Curie Centre Belfast offers specialist medical, nursing emotional and spiritual care to people with cancer in its In-patient and Day Care unit and through home visits. Families are supported by staff during the patient’s illness and afterwards in bereavement. These special caring services are offered free of charge to the patient.

Logo for Northern Ireland Hospice

The Northern Ireland Hospice provides care for patients with cancer and other life threatening illnesses and gives support to their families whether the patient is in hospice or at home. At hospice they accept that cure is not possible and specially trained staff aim to relieve pain and other symptoms and to provide emotional and spiritual support. There is no charge for hospice care - it is available to everyone on the basis of need. They rely mainly upon voluntary donations to fund their services which is why the money raised by the sale of this CD is so important to them. Staff at Hospice have fond memories of the days when Janet used to come in and entertain the Day Hospice patients with her lovely harp recitals. We are delighted that she is helping us in this very practical way and are much encouraged by her continued support for hospice.

Logo for Macmillan Cancer Relief

In Northern Ireland four in ten people will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. Driven by their needs Macmillan Cancr Relief is working towards the day when everyone in NI has an equal and ready access to the best information, treatment and care for cancer. To achieve this goal, we fund services which include Macmillan nurses and doctors, and patient information and grants. We also build Macmillan centres to provide information, support, treatment and care. These vital services help to achieve a better quality of life for people affected by cancer. All of our services are free, and are funded entirely by voluntary donations.

Logo for

Faith is what sustains our overseas partners going in times of adversity and music is a common joy we all share. This album of Sacred Music on the Irish Harp combines both Faith and Music in a way that will be an encouragement to all who take time to listen.