Monday, February 23, 2009

"...a frenzy of gospel halls and hallelujahs!.."

Click here for the brilliant second programme of Grace Notes, presented by Phil Cunningham, on BBC IPlayer. It'll only be online for about a week, so I strongly urge you to watch it quickly! It summarises the post-Reformation religious music in Scotland:

the Wedderburn brothers and their Gude and Godlie Ballades
• the Covenanters
• the Psalm singing traditions and how they changed during the 1600s - 1800s
• the emergence in the 1870s of hymnwriters like Horatius Bonar (significantly, this was after Scotland's 1859 Revival - the same thing happened in Ulster after our own 1859 Revival, and in America too.)
• DL Moody and Sankey's preaching and music in Britain, beginning in November 1873. Sankey was of Ulster descent, and famed for his superb hymnwriting which was backed by organ playing
• Salvation Army and the concertina in the early 20th Century mission halls and open airs of Glasgow
• William McEwan and "Will the Circle be Unbroken", 1919
• American influences like Billy Graham

(I was amazed when Phil himself commented on the previous post I had about the series a few weeks ago, so I hope he picks up on these positive comments. One of the programme's researchers has also been in touch with me, passing on some great information about other evangelical Scottish music, and a brilliant article about the concertina in Scottish evangelical outreach).

Any criticism is very minimal - but sadly the programme avoids the Scots language hymns and songs outside of the mainline Kirk, the writers like Seth Sykes and so on, who DID rework Scottish folk tunes with gospel lyrics in the first half of the 20th century. It also misses out most of the smaller Protestant denominations and organisations, like the Faith Mission. Pardon the bold caps, but - THIS IS THE BEST PIECE OF TELEVISION I HAVE SEEN IN DONKEYS YEARS!. Seriously, watch it while it's still online.


On Radio Ulster this morning, there was a clip of an Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd speaking at the memorial service to the people who died in the recent bush fires. He quoted Martin Luther when describing the steely bravery of the Aussie firemen - "Here I stand, I can do no other".