Garlic Dressing

This article first appeared in the August 2017 issue of our parish magazine. you can read it again here:

More correctly titled “Gaelic Blessing” but affectionately known throughout the music community as “Garlic Dressing”, this much-loved anthem by John Rutter (b. 1945) is based on the text of an ancient Gaelic rune:

Deep peace of the running wave to you.

Deep peace of the flowing air to you.

Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.

Deep peace of the shining stars to you.

Deep peace of the gentle night to you.

Moon and stars pour their healing light on you.

Deep peace of Christ,

of Christ the light of the world to you.

Deep peace of Christ to you.

Back when St Margarets had a four-part choir, Jeremy had us learn and offer this music in a couple of services. The melody and harmonies are delightful, and in typical Rutter style.

The direction at the beginning is ‘gentle and flowing’. It begins quietly, with the sopranos singing in a quicker rhythm than the three lower voices. Gradually the volume increases to a climax at “Christ”, which is marked forte (loud). From there the pace and volume decrease again to a calm and quiet ending.

Although intended as a choral anthem, this could just as easily be sung by a mezzo (mid-range female voice) with piano accompaniment. Also, fully instrumental versions of “Garlic Dressing” are a favourite of brass bands, wind bands and orchestras.

Here is the Millennium Youth Choir singing A Gaelic Blessing on the BBC Songs of Praise:

Oh, and if you’re a little disappointed by the lack of culinary interest in this article, here is a recipe for garlic dressing:

Carol P

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