Sunday, July 12, 2009

Psalm 79 from the Isle of Lewis

Something different for this Sunday's video. The unearthly sounds of Gaelic psalm singing come from Lewis in the Outer Hebrides and remind us just what a strange and diverse place the British Isles are.

As a bonus you get some pictures of the island's landscape including the moon over the stones of Callanish. I have visited the Outer Hebrides a couple of times and long to go back.

MetaFilter describes what we are listening to:

In Presbyterian Free Church's across Lewis you can here some of the finest examples of spiritual Free Heterophony in the world, where the psalms are sung a cappella (without musical accompaniment), and led by a precentor (literally ‘one who sings beforehand’).

In Gaelic psalm singing, the precentor leads the praise by commencing the tune, which he sings along with the congregation for two lines of a four-line stanza. On the third line, the precentor sings the line solo, which is then repeated by the congregation; this occurs for each line until the end of the item of praise.

The result is a unique musical event, full of the traditions of Celtic religious culture, and deeply moving in its praise of God.

The site also repeats the story that the Black American style of worship has it roots in Gaelic psalm singing. This is an atractive idea, but probably too fanciful.

Another Youtube video explains the difference between Hebridean "lining out" and the Black American "call and response" style.

So the blues probably don't come from Stornoway.

1 comment:

dreamingspire said...

here (or rather there) you can hear...