Loreena McKennitt

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To be a catalyst is one of my life’s objectives.

Loreena McKennitt (born 17 February 1957) is a Canadian composer, songwriter, singer, harpist and pianist.

Sourced[edit]

  • May, 1993 - Stratford... have been reading through the poetry of 15th century Spain, and I find myself drawn to one by the mystic writer and visionary St. John of the Cross; the untitled work is an exquisite, richly metaphoric love poem between himself and his god. It could pass as a love poem between any two at any time ... His approach seems more akin to early Islamic or Judaic works in its more direct route to communication to his god... I have gone over three different translations of the poem, and am struck by how much a translation can alter our interpretation. I am reminded that most holy scriptures come to us in translation, resulting in a diversity of views.
    • Notes from McKennitt's journals in the CD booklet for The Mask and Mirror '
  • I have come to use the pan-Celtic history, which spans from 500 BC to the present, as a creative springboard. The music I am creating is a result of traveling down that road and picking up all manner of themes and influences, which may or may not be overtly Celtic in nature.

The Visit (1991)[edit]

All Souls Night[edit]

Music sample from Quinlan Road
Candles and lanterns are dancing, dancing
A waltz on All Souls Night.
The wind is full of a thousand voices
They pass by the bridge and me.
  • I can see lights in the distance
    Trembling in the dark cloak of night
    Candles and lanterns are dancing, dancing
    A waltz on All Souls Night.
  • Bonfires dot the rolling hillsides
    Figures dance around and around
    To drums that pulse out echoes of darkness
    And moving to the pagan sound.
  • Standing on the bridge that crosses
    The river that goes out to the sea
    The wind is full of a thousand voices
    They pass by the bridge and me.

The Old Ways[edit]

Music sample from Quinlan Road
A vision came o'er me
Of thundering hooves and beating wings
In clouds above.
  • The thundering waves are calling me home to you
    The pounding sea is calling me home to you
  • Suddenly I knew that you'd have to go
    Your world was not mine, your eyes told me so
    Yet it was there I felt the crossroads of time
    And I wondered why.
  • As we cast our gaze on the tumbling sea
    A vision came o'er me
    Of thundering hooves and beating wings
    In clouds above.
  • As you turned to go I heard you call my name,
    You were like a bird in a cage spreading its wings to fly
    "The old ways are lost," you sang as you flew
    And I wondered why.

The Mask and Mirror (1994)[edit]

The Mystic's Dream[edit]

Music sample from Quinlan Road
Where the heart moves the stones
It's there that my heart is calling
All for the love of you
  • A clouded dream on an earthly night
    Hangs upon the crescent moon
    A voiceless song in an ageless light
    Sings at the coming dawn
    Birds in flight are calling there
    Where the heart moves the stones
    It's there that my heart is calling
    All for the love of you
  • A painting hangs on an ivy wall
    Nestled in the emerald moss
    The eyes declare a truce of trust
    And then it draws me far away
    Where deep in the desert twilight
    Sand melts in pools of the sky
    When darkness lays her crimson cloak
    Your lamps will call me home
  • And so it's there my homage's due
    Clutched by the still of the night
    And now I feel you move
    Every breath is full
    So it's there my homage's due
    Clutched by the still of the night
    Even the distance feels so near
    All for the love of you.

The Dark Night of The Soul[edit]

An adaptation by McKennitt of the untitled mystic poem by St. John of the Cross which is usually known by this name. Music sample from Quinlan Road


  • Upon a darkened night the flame of love was burning in my breast
    And by a lantern bright I fled my house while all in quiet rest.

    Shrouded by the night and by the secret stair I quickly fled.
    The veil concealed my eyes while all within lay quiet as the dead.
  • Oh night thou was my guide
    Oh night more loving than the rising sun
    Oh night that joined the lover to the beloved one
    transforming each of them into the other.
  • Upon that misty night in secrecy, beyond such mortal sight
    Without a guide or light than that which burned so deeply in my heart
    That fire t'was led me on and shone more bright than of the midday sun
    To where he waited still it was a place where no one else could come.
  • Within my pounding heart which kept itself entirely for him
    He fell into his sleep beneath the cedars all my love I gave
    From o'er the fortress walls the wind would his hair against his brow
    And with its smoothest hand caressed my every sense it would allow.
  • I lost myself to him and laid my face upon my lover's breast
    And care and grief grew dim as in the morning's mist became the light
    There they dimmed amongst the lilies fair.

Celtic Women in Music interview (1999)[edit]

Interview in Celtic Women in Music : A Celebration of Beauty and Sovereignty (1999) by Mairéid Sullivan
  • There is a wonderful old Chinese proverb that I love, "A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving". I think about my personal approach to musical projects much like a travel writer might approach the preparation for a book. You latch on to a certain theme or historical event and follow that into the unknown, while, at the same time, expanding on those themes.
  • Until the early nineties, I was under the impression that the Celts were this mad collection of anarchists from Ireland, Scotland and Wales. When I saw an exhibition in Venice, I discovered they were a vast collection of tribes originating from Middle and Eastern Europe as far back as 500 BC, and that over the centuries they migrated and integrated with people all over the world. So I've used this cultural history as a creative muse. With The Book Of Secrets in particular, I was interested in beginning with their earlier and more Eastern history
  • One of the most wonderful and engaging things I've learned is that we are the culmination and extension of each other's histories and there is more that binds us together than separates us, and in discovering this, perhaps our needs are timeless and universal.
    I have a very deep interest in religion and spirituality. I like the Sufi perspective, which suggests that it is better to participate in the world than to become detached from the world.

External links[edit]

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