Saturday, 29 April 2017

Mass readings in Scots: 3rd Sunday in Easter

First reading
Acts 2:14,22-33

Bot Petir stude with the elleuen, and raasit vp his voce, and spak to thame. Ye men of Israel, here ye thir wordis. Jesus of Nazareth, a man previt of God before you be virtues, and wonndris, and taknis, quhilkis God did be him in the myddis of you, as ye wate, Ye tormentit, and slew him be the handis of wickit men, be counsale determinit and betakin be the forknawing of God. Quham God raasit, quhen sorowis of hell war vnbundin, be that that it was impossibile that he war haldin of it. For Dauid sais of him,
I saw on ferre the Lord before me euirmare,
for he is on my richthalf, that I be nocht mouet.
For this thing my hart ioyit,
and my tonng made full out ioy,
and mare ouir my flesch sal rest in hope.
For thou sal nocht leeue my saul in hell,
nouthir thou sal geue thin hali to se corruptloin.
Thou has made knawne to me the wayis of lijf,
thou sal fill me in mirth with thi face.
Brether, be it leefull hardilie to say to you of the patriarch Dauid, for he is dede and berysit, and his sepulture is amang vs in to this day. Tharfor quhen he was a prophet, and wist that with a gret athe God had suorn to him, that of the fruit of his leynd suld aan sit on his sete, He seand on ferre spak of the resurrectioun of Crist, for nowthir he was left in hell, nouthir his flesch saw corruptioun. God raasit this Jesu, to quham we all ar witnessis. Tharfor he was vpheit be the richthand of God, and throuch the behecht of the Haligaast that he tuke of the fader, he sched out this spirit, that ye se and here.

(From Murdoch Nesbit's translation into Scots (1520) here.)

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 15(16):1-2,5,7-11

1. Waird me weel, O God,
I lippen till yerlane.

2 Ye hae said until the Lord,
My Lord, ye 're a' my ain; I hae nought that 's gude, abune yersel.

5 The Lord himsel's the fow o' my ha'din an' my caup;
my luck yerlane hae lucken'd.

7 I maun blythe-bid the Lord, wha gies me wyss rede;
an' my lisk, night by night, hauds me ay learnin.

8 The Lord evirmair hae I set fornenst mysel:
for he's at my right han', I sal ne'er be sair steerit.

9 Wharthro' my heart 's fu' fain, an' my gudeliheid fu' blythe is:
na, my vera bouk itsel bides in tryst.

10 For my saul ye winna lea' i' the lang hame o' dead;
ye winna gie yer dearest ane till see the sheugh o' dule.

11 Yersel sal gar me ken the vera gate o' life:
routh o' joies afore thy face is;
pleasurs thrang at thy right han' evir mair.

(From P. Hately Waddell's translation of Psalm 16 (1891) here)

Second reading
1 Peter 1:17-21

And gif ye inwartly call him fader, quhilk deemys without acceptioun of persounns be the werk of ilkman, leeue ye in drede in the tyme of your pilgrimage; Witting that nocht be corruptabile gold, or siluir, ye ar boucht agane of your vane leving of fadris traditioun, Bot be the precious blude as of the lambe vndefoulit and vnspottit, Crist Jesu, That was knawne befoir the making of the warld, bot he is schawit in the last tymes, for you That be him ar faithfull in God; that raasit him fra dede, and gaue to him euirlasting glorie, that your faith and hope war in God.

 (From Murdoch Nesbit's translation into Scots (1520) here.)

GospelLuke 24:13-35

And mark! twa frae ’mang them war gaun on their journey, that vera day, till a village seeven or aucht mile frae Jerusalem, ca’d Emmaus. And they spak thegither o’ a’ thae things that had happened. And it cam aboot, as they war speakin and reasonin thegither, Jesus his sel cam nar, and gaed wi’ them. But their sicht was hauden, that they soudna ken him. And he says to them, “Whatna words are thae that ye hae ane to anither, as ye gang on ?” And they stude still, wi’ a sorrowfu' look.

But ane, by name Cleopas, answer’t, “Div ye bide by yere lane in Jerusalem, and hae-na kent a’ the things that hae cam aboot i’ thir days ?” And he said, “Whatna things?” And they said to him, “Anent Jesus o’ Nazareth, that was a prophet, a man michty in deed and word, in God’s sicht, and o’ a’ the folk. “And in whatna way oor Heid-prieets and Rulers deliver’t him up to deid, and hae crucify’t him. But we lippened it wad hae been he that was to deliver Isra’l ; and forby a’ this, the day is the third day sin’ thae things war dune. Aye! and a wheen weemen o’ oor ain gar’t us be astonish’t — gaun ear' to the tomb, and no findin his corp, they cam sayin they had seen a vision o’ angels, that said he was leevin ! And some that war o’ us gaed to the tomb ; and faund it e’en as the weemen had said ; but they sawna him.”

And he says to them, “Oh, glaikit anes ! and dour in yere hearts to lippen to the things the Prophets hae said. Was’t no for the Christ to suffer thae vera things ? and to enter intil his glorie ?” And, beginnin frae Moses, and frae a’ the Prophets, he made plain to them in a’ the Scripture the things anent himsel.

And they cam nar to the village they war gaun till; and he lookit as gin he was gaun on. But they pressed him, sayin, “Bide ye wi’ us! the day is far gane, and the nicht is comin!” And he gaed in to stop wi’ them. And it cam aboot, whan he was sutten doon wi’ them to meat, he took the laif, and bless’d; and breikin it, gied till them. And their e’en war unsteekit ; and they kent him! and he dis- appear frae them. And they said ane to the ither, “Did oor heart no lowe within us, while he was speakin to us on the way, and exponin to us the word !”

And they raise up that vera oor, and gaed back till Jerusalem, and faund foregather’t the Eleeven, and thae wi’ them, sayin, “The Lord did rise! and appear’t to Simon !” And they war tell in the things by the road ; and hoo he was made kent to them i’ the breikin o’ breid.

(From William Wye Smith's translation (1904) here.)

Friday, 28 April 2017

New venture: Mass readings in Scots language

                                                       Lazarus dressed for blogging

Ninian Winzet's savaging of John Knox in 1563 for forgetting "our auld plane Scottis quhilk zour mother lerit you." Winzet, McClure explains, was merely ladling on yet more irony in questioning why Knox had not answered the doctrinal questions Winzet had earlier posed: perhaps you are unable to read my handwriting; perhaps you have forgotten your mother tongue. For the purpose of his argument, Winzet could allege a difference in language between his own "plane Scottis" and the variety of English Knox had adopted as part of an excessive "curiositie of nouatiounis."

Bailey, Richard W. (1991) "Scots and Scotticisms: Language and Ideology," Studies in Scottish Literature: Vol. 26: Iss. 1. (Available at: )

David Leask has been banging on a while now about the way Unionists have amongst other things) developed a neuralgic reaction to the Scots language (eg Herald article here). I wouldn't put it quite the way he does, but I do think there's a general problem of political debate in Scotland becoming simplified into the one issue of 'Independence -for or against?' and of other important questions becoming weaponized by both sides in the attempt to win this one battle.

From the 'progressive' Nationalist side, I don't suppose I need to make a case for Scots. (Although in principle, the justification for an emphasis on Scots ought to be problematic in such circles, even if in fact it isn't.)

Turning to the Right, to the extent that the Right is now synonymous with Unionism in Scotland, there is no particular reason why Scots as a language should be a target. There can be different views on its importance, but there is no obvious reason in principle why hostility to Scots is entailed by hostility to Scottish Independence: one of the great pleasures in reading Walter Scott's canon recently was the discovery of just how well he uses Scots in a variety of different registers. (And no obvious SNP-er he.) I sympathise with a kneejerk reaction to the nonsense that graces the pages of The National and to  political Nationalist attempts to coopt the language, but what is kneejerk needs to be resisted. Conservatives need to be much smarter than this: culture is much, much more important than politics.

But, digging a little more deeply, what of a conservatism that is not simply identical with Unionism? Difficult though it may be to peer through the fog of war and see the underlying principles at stake here, it's essential that those of us who (at least in broad terms) think of ourselves as cultural conservatives don't fall into the trap of a simple identification with the Conservative Party and thus Unionism (because the Scottish Conservative Party is self declared as progressive and because, in any case, social conservatives do not have to be supporters of the Conservative Party) or of a simple identification of Unionism and conservatism. I think the former point is relatively straightforward, so it's to the latter I turn.

Imagine for a moment that I am a Kirkian or Scrutonian conservative. Let's adopt the (somewhat ill-fitting) title of 'palaeo-conservative' as shorthand. Why would I be hostile to Scots (quite apart from necessarily hostile to Nationalism or Independence)? I put aside as utterly irrelevant the question of whether or not it is a proper language: it is at the least a proper dialect, and one with a rich, longstanding literature. With an emphasis on the local and the imaginative, and quite simply the preservation of what has been, why would I be resistant to at least preserving (quite apart from promoting) Scots? I struggle to think of an answer except for the assertion that there are more important things to think about. Possibly. But one of the key elements at least of Russell Kirk's conservatism is its element of fancy and eccentric individuality: if people see fit (as many whom I admire do) to spend their time promoting and thinking about Tolkien, then why should not those of us whom Tolkien leaves rather cold, spend time thinking about and preserving Scots?

Beyond this, I think there is a special duty on Scots Catholics to re-imagine and re-enchant Scotland. There has been a strong current in English Catholicism, seen both in Walsingham and the sense of England as Our Lady's Dowry, to remember and wish to recreate at least in imagination, an England in which the Reformation never happened or at least has been healed. For whatever reasons, this sense is rather diminished in Scotland. (The main exception to this in recent years has been George Mackay Brown, but, even here, his emphasis on Orkney reduces his impact on non-Scandinavian Scotland.) So what would a Scotland freed from the poison of the Reformation look like? What would it be for it to live as a daily reality its status as Specialis Filia Romanae Ecclesiae? Well, for one thing, at the very least a greater awareness of the mediaeval literary heritage in Scots. (Back to Dunbar, indeed.)

Anyway, let him wha will be a traitor knave. I don't know what other shenanigans I'll get up to on this, but, from this Sunday (and at least monthly thereafter until -as per usual- I get bored) I'll be posting selected Mass readings in Scots. These will be pilfered from a variety of sources rather than my own workings and this will doubtless result in a number of absurdities. (On present estimates, I'll need to make use of at least some readings in modern Ulster Scots as well as in Scotticised Middle English. (I don't totally dismiss the possibility of resorting to machine translation either.) The resulting linguisic tensions can either be ignored or celebrated as a re-enactment of the linguistic tensions necessarily involved in the original language texts of a 'book' which has been assembled by the Church from a variety of texts produced over centuries.) As with so many other ventures, I am happy to do it badly with a view to others eventually doing it better.

A couple of final points. First, everything I say above in favour of Scots could be said of Gaelic but with even greater force. That I say nothing here of Gaelic is a result entirely of my very, very limited acquaintance with that language. Secondly, none of this is to be taken as suggesting that actual Masses should be said in Scots. I suppose there is an argument in favour of such a view, but it's not one that I'm engaged in. (For what it's worth, I would ban all experiments in the language of the Mass for 1000 years and, if there is a lust for linguistic variety, urge a greater use of Scotland's other great historic language, Latin. But that's for another day.) My purpose here (quite apart from its being a simple jeu d'esprit) is simply to allow that imaginative reception of the liturgy into a wider culture that can be seen (eg) in mediaeval mystery plays and church decoration, and the transformation of that wider culture by a Catholic presence. (Pie in the Sky in practice, no doubt, but at least (ignored) there will be in principle a Catlick presence in a field too often dominated by Proddy, Secularist (and Ginger) Dugs.)

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Second Sunday of Easter (Low Sunday): sermon of Lancelot Andrewes

A brotherhood, we grant, was begun  then at Christmas by his birth, as upon that day, for 'lo then was he born'. But so was he now also at Easter; born then too, and after a better manner born.


There was then a new betting this day. And if a new begetting, a new paternity, and fraternity both. But the 'Today I have begotten thee' of Christmas, how soon was he born of the Virgin's womb he became our brother, sin except, subject to all our infirmities; so to mortality, and even to death itself. And by death that brotherhood had been dissolved, but for this day's rising. By the 'Today I have begotten thee' of Easter, as soon as he was born again of the womb of the grave, be begins a new brotherhood, founds a new fraternity straight; adopts us, we see, anew again by his 'my brethren' (John 20:17), and thereby he that was 'first-begotten from the dead' becomes 'the first-begotten' in this respect 'among many brethren' (Romans 8:20) Before he was ours, now we are his. That was by the mother's side; so, he ours. This is by 'your Father', the Father's side; -so, we his. But half-brothers before, never of the whole blood till now. Now by father and mother both, twin brothers, most fraternal brothers, we cannot be more.

To shut up all in a word, that of Christmas was the fraternity arising out of 'my God and your God'; so then brethren. This of Easter, adopting us to his Father, was the fraternity of 'my Father and your Father'; so brethren now.

[Excerpt from today's reading in the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham. 'A Sermon preached before the King's Majesty, at Whitehall, on the twenty-first of April A.D. MDCXXII, being Easter-Day'. (Many of Andrewes' sermons can be found online here. But not this one!)]