Saturday, February 01, 2014

"The Kirk i' the Clachan, Sermons in Braid Scots" by D. Gibb Mitchell, 1917

'... I’ve a bonnie kirk in my clachan here, and on Sabbath my folk gaither round me for the breid o’ life. I whiles win at them throwe the auld Scots tongue. The hamely words gang far in, and I see tears fa’ an’ faces smile. Mony a han’ grips mine at the skailin, an’ buirdly men thank me wi’ trem’lin voice.
There’s a cry in mony lands for the truth i’ the mither tongue. Oor kinsmen in ither pairts canna come in-by to oor neuk, but gin they wud like a sicht o’ the sermons, this buik is for them. Lat them read o’ the deep things o’ God in this simple guise, an’ may they see their Christ!...'

Mitchell (1861-1921) was the son of a mill owner, a railway man, a poet, cricketer and golfer - and later became minister of the Free Church at Cramond, on the west of Edinburgh (later renamed Davidsons' Mains). His account above is the same as my own experience. Country folk have responded well to hearing oul hymns and gospel songs in 'the vernacular' that they grew up with. It is not irreverent, it's like time travel. I have had tear-filled big men talk to me, happy wee old women talk to me, both struck by how the message of the Man of Galilee sounds in ordinary familiar country language, for the folk W.G. Lyttle called 'plain country workin men'. After all, when the disciples and Christ had eventually reached the city of Jerusalem, what was it that marked Peter out as a rural fisherman, despite his denial?

"Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee..." - Matthew 26v73.