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Laoidhean Shioin
By Gilleasbuig Farcharson (1870)


Although we have many excellent poems in Gaelic, still there are very few fitted for being used in connexion with the preaching of the Gospel. It was in the beginning of last Winter that the Author was led to compose the first of the following, and finding that they had such a powerful effect upon the minds of the people, he was led to compose the whole. One of these pieces sung after a discourse—The Congregation, or a part of it, uniting in singing the chorus—created such a desire for hearing, that the difficulty was to get places large enough to contain all those anxious to attend: the largest houses that could be had were crowded, even on week evenings. Mr. Thomson in his attempts to reclaim the wild Arabs of the Cowgate of Edinburgh, declares that singing was the first thing that tamed and subdued them; and I can truly say the same thing regarding the Tiree people, many of those who were not in the habit of attending anyplace of worship, not only turned out to hear, but conducted themselves with apparent seriousness, and even the children were very much interested. I believe it. is an understood fact, that Richard Weaver, has produced as much, if not a greater effect by his singing than by his preaching. . The airs selected for the following poems, are these which the Author used to sing when a lad among the Grampian Hills.

A laddie so merry ’mong green grass and heather,
The voice of the echo rehearsing his story,
The mountains so rocky to mimic and mock him,
Becoming all vocal, like songsters so joyful.

’N uair bha e ’na bhalach gu sunndach’s Ikn aighear,
’S Mac-talla ga athris a cantuinn nan bran,
’Toirt air na cruaidh chreagan le’n teanganan sgeigeil,
Gu fileant’ ga fhreagradh gu ceileireach, ceblmhor,

I am aware that some will object to these airs, because they do not belong to what is called Sacred Music, because they go aside from orthodoxy’s old beaten path. But, I do not think that music considered in itself, has either anything sacred or profane about it, it is the matter with which it is sung that gives it its character. It is evident that even Sacred Music may be used to a profane purpose, and it is equally evident that our native melodies may be used for a sacred purpose also. The great object of music is not merely to please, but also to affect the mind, and I have no hesitation in affirming, that Sacred Music will neither do the one nor the other like our native melodies.

The adaptation of the Gaelic for Lyric Poetry, and the ease with which poems can be composed in it, may be learned from the fact, that the following were almost composed last winter, while the Author was engaged in preaching the Gospel, not only on the Lord’s Day, but always three or four times on week evenings in different parts of the Island.

Island of Tiree,
9th April, 1869.

Laoidhean Shioin
By Gilleasbuig Farcharson (1870) (pdf)
While this book is in the Gaelic language there is also an interesting letter on the Gaelic Language in English at the end of the book.

Return to our Gaelic Page


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