THE Priests know how to deliver an excellent Christmas concert of carols, hymns and popular festive numbers. Father Eugene O’Hagan, Father Martin O’Hagan and Father David Derlargy have returned from their American tour and are preparing for Christmas concerts at the Millennium Forum, Londonderry and Belfast’s Waterfront Hall.
“We have to sing the Christmas carols that everybody knows and loves,” says Father Delargy. “You have to bring out all the old faithful carols. But we’ve tweaked the repertoire from last year to bring in some new things.
“Eugene and Martin are tenors and then I have a slightly deeper voice, a baritone. I love the Little Drummer Boy, which is a song we recorded with Shane McGowan two years ago; it suits my range very well.”
When The Priests released their eponymously-titled album back in 2008, they could have had little inkling of what was about to happen to them. The racking up of an awful lot of air miles, three albums released, three million records sold, three Classic Brit nominations, one Guinness World Record, a book, countless TV appearances and playing innumerable concerts around the world to audiences that have included the Irish President, the British Royal Family and the Pope. It’s fair to say they have made their mark.
Christmas With The Priests will feature much-loved classics such as Ave Maria, Pie Jesu and Amazing Grace, Ding Dong Merrily On High, O Come All Ye Faithful, Sussex Carol, Silent Night and a host of other hallowed songs.
“We completed a concert tour of America earlier in the year,” confides Fr Delargy. “We did 12 dates and it went extremely well, We started out in New Orleans, then up to Houston and Dallas in Texas, we went to Rhode Island, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Abany, Chicago, Boston and then Toronto. It was demanding - there were long flights between some of the dates - so it was tiring, but amazing too, an experience you wouldn’t want to miss.”
The priests work in their respective parishes when not touring and recording, and the profits made from their music career go to charity.
“We don’t meet and rehearse too often because we know a lot of this material pretty well,” confirms Father David; and they would, having sung their way through a substantial number of Christmases.
“We are very respectful of each other’s different areas of expertise,” he adds, when asked if they experience creative differences. “We are three fairly strong personalities as well, we all have something to say and we certainly don’t always agree. Sometimes we just have to agree to differ,” laughs Fr Derlargy, “that’s the Christian way.”
The Priests certainly know how to make the most joyful of holy rackets.
Christmas with The Priests, December 21, Millennium Forum, Londonderry (028 71 264455 or www.millenniumforum.co.uk) and December 22, Waterfront Hall, Belfast (028 90334455 or www.waterfront.co.uk)