Thursday, February 26, 2009

Back to music

Some of you know that Graeme and I are out singin' again, this time as a simple "brother duet" style two piece. I'm just back in from a really special night at Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church in Ards, where we played a 45 minute set. It's hard to describe just how welcome we were made, the real sense of connection in the room between our singing and the audience, and the virtual stampede at the end for the box of leaflets (Hamilton & Montgomery, Covenanters and Scots in Ulster surnames). I even met two women who were wee girls that took part in the 1948 Presbyterian Pageant! And another lady, Marie Montgomery, who used to live next door to Newtownards Priory and who played in it as a wee girl when it was still open to the public, and when it had manicured ornamental gardens inside it. Hearing the people (I'd guess about 200 - 250) joining in with our singing was really special.

Then last Sunday morning we were at Willowfield Parish Church in Belfast and played 4 songs - again a wonderful response from the people, and they want us back next month! They even served us a sausage bap and cup of tea for breakfast, and playing some of the old hymns went down really well - two men told us it was like being back in the City Mission when they were wee lads! Another man gave me an extra verse for "Running Over".

Faith+culture+heritage=identity - it may not be PC, but it's the authentic combination for the Ulster-Scots people (from Hugh Montgomery's restoration of the Priory as soon as he got off the boat in 1606, through the 1625 Revival, the 1859 Revival, and right up to the present day.)

It's a humbling privilege and joy to get the opportunity to take that three-part message out to oor ain folk, folk who have a massive appetite for their ain story, having been starved of it for so many years.