Hark! Hear the Angels sing — at Ottawa's Celtic Cross Pub

'A pretty nice gift at Christmas time'

By Carl Dow, Editor and Publisher, True North Perspective

Image: Acacia Lyra in the Byward Market. Photo by Jean-Marc Carisse, via  
Acacia Lyra's Janine Dudding (right) and Susan Sweeney Hermon with Pauta Saila's Dancing Bear in the Jeanne d’Arc Court in Ottawa's ByWard Market. Photo by Jean-Marc Carisse, via  

There can be 20 instruments, from percussion, to strings, to wind, and rising beautifully out of the strong Gaelic sound you will hear two angelic voices with harp strings.

It will be Wednesday evening at the Celtic Cross Pub and Eatery at 343 Somerset West, at Bank Street, in downtown Ottawa, a few stone throws from Parliament Hill. The angels in question are Janine Dudding and Susan Sweeney Hermon who perform under the banner of Acacia Lyra. The duo reinforce the fact that the Canadian harp music scene is vibrant and varied.

Janine and Susan blend both contemporary and traditional Celtic harp music, performing, composing, and singing music in several languages and from many corners of the world.

On Wednesdays at the Celtic Cross Pub, (starting about 7 p.m.) the sound is created spontaneously with other musicians in the spirit of the Irish Kitchen Party tradition. For example, one player could call out and lead with a tune and song that grew out of the the hardships of the workers who built the Rideau Canal and the others will join in. Other contributions link adventures of the Irish community as they settled in the Ottawa Valley. And, of course, the folklore in song of Newfoundland and the Atlantic provinces will find their places in the sun.

And you can count on Janine and Susan joining in, if not leading, with their rich voices, their harps, and also with other instruments such as guitars, and percussion, that they carry with them.

It is soul satisfying to share, even only as an observer, in the joy of the players at the Celtic Cross Pub.

Solstice Song ~ A Celtic Christmas

In a completely different venue, Janine Dudding and Susan Sweeney Hermon will be the featured performers at St Bartholomew's Church, Monday 22 December 2014, 15 MacKay Street, New Edinburgh, Ottawa, with a musical celebration called Solstice Song ~ A Celtic Christmas.

Tickets are available for $25 ($15 for students) at Books on Beechwood. St Bartholomew's Church, The Leading Note, The Ottawa Folklore Centre and There will be a traditional Wassail after the concert. There is plenty of free parking on nearby streets. OC Transpo bus #9 frequently passes along Crichton Street, one block west of the church.

The church is wheelchair accessible through the main doors and the parish hall.

The Celtic Cross Pub and Eatery and St Bart's, as the church is warmly nicknamed, offer a study in musical contrasts. The Celtic Cross  where you can sit with beer and companions (and a delicious meal if you're so inclined) and enjoy the traditional Irish Kitchen Party and then go to St Bart's, on Monday 22 December and take high pleasure of the Acacia Lyra duo of Janine Dudding and Susan Sweeney Hermon in a traditional concert setting.


Meanwhile, an excellent solution to your Christmas present problems would be an Acacia Lyra CD that would be as up-to-date as tomorrow. They are:

Harmonic Curves, 2009, Aqsarniit (Northern Lights), 2010, and Silver Sun, 2011.

These are available on Wednesdays at the Celtic Cross, will be at St Bart's, and through the Acacia Lyra website:, or by contacting – Susan Sweeney Hermon – at

Meanwhile, for your listening and viewing pleasure take ten minutes to sit back and hear and watch Janine Dudding and Susan Sweeney Hermon tell us how Acacia Lyra came to be and experience pleasureful samples of their music and singing (if the video above doesn't work, click HERE.)