While working for the Inland Revenue, Alexander Carmichael (1832 – 1912) compiled a compelling collection of oral traditions of the Scottish Highlands and Islands, as Dr Andrew Wiseman reveals in “The Kilted Exciseman.”
“At the beginning of the last century, in October 1900, a two-volume sumptuous publication rolled off the printing presses of Constable and Co. inEdinburgh, to much acclaim for the production values of the work and also for the compiler. These two books were a product of a lifetime’s work collecting oral traditions from the Gaels of the Scottish Highlands and Islands. Carmina Gadelica may be described as an eclectic collection of folklore including such material as poems, stories, prayers, blessings, charms for curing, songs and customs, some of which are embedded in Christian belief…
Carmina Gadelica had a limited edition of only 300 copies and out of the reach of the poor who could ill afford a book priced at the sum of three guineas. Indeed, if there was any complaint at all in many of the favourable reviews that appeared of Carmina Gadelica, it was more to do with the exorbitant price-tag of the books rather than its actual contents.”
One example (and in time for this New Years) is entitled Beannachadh Bliadhna Uir (The Blessing of the New Year), collected from Ann Morrison, a mason’s wife from Trumsgearry North Uist. May we be found joining the ancestral throng in prayer:
TheBlessing of the New Year
God, bless to me the new day,
Never vouchsafed to me before;
It is to bless Thine own presence
Thou hast given me this time, O God.
Bless Thou to me mine eye,
May mine eye bless all it sees
I will bless my neighbour,
May my neighbour bless me.
God, give me a clean heart,
Let me not from sight of Thine eye;
Bless to me my children and my wife,
And bless to me my means and my cattle.
A traditional Celtic prayer translated by Alexander Carmichael (1832-1912), compiler of oral traditions in Scotland. Source: Academia