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Title Laoidhean Spioradail a Chum Cuideachadh le Cràbhadh nan Gael
Author Dughallach, Donnachadh
Editor N/A
Date Of Edition 1841
Date Of Language 1800-1849
Publisher Printed by John Niven & Son
Place Published Glasgow
Volume N/A
Location National and academic libraries
Link Digital version created by National Library of Scotland
Download File PDF / plain text 
Geographical Origins Mull
Register Religion, Verse
Alternative Author Name MacDougall, Duncan
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 17.2cm x 10.7cm
Short Title Laoidhean Spioradail
Reference Details NLS: T.32.i [EUL Sp. Coll. copy lost]
Number Of Pages 160
Gaelic Text By N/A
Illustrator N/A
Social Context Duncan MacDougall was born into a farming family in Brolas in Mull in or shortly before 1800. MacDougall worked for a time at kelping, a popular occupation in the island at the end of the eighteenth century. In the course of this work he travelled to Oronsay, where he encountered the Oronsay Cross. Professor Meek has commented (unpublished paper) that ‘According to the traditional record, the cross played a major part in his conversion. One day he began to mock the central panel of the cross, depicting a crucifix, but, after he had made fun of the person on the Cross, he was filled with remorse, and repentance and faith in Christ followed.’

By 1824, MacDougall was working in Tiree as a Gaelic teacher, having been sent there by the Edinburgh Society for the Support of Gaelic Schools. This Society had strong Baptist connections, and when MacDougall married Catherine MacDonald in 1824, the marriage record states, according to Meek, that they were both ‘Baptists by profession’. Although employed in the island as a teacher, it seems that MacDougall also preached in Tiree, to the annoyance of the island’s Moderate minister, Neil MacLean. By 1836, MacDougall had become an agent of the Baptist Home Missionary Society for Scotland and had a number of followers in Tiree. Around 1838, he set up the Tiree Baptist Church. In Meek’s words, ‘From 1838 until his death in 1850, apparently caused by typhoid fever, he worked tirelessly as the pastor of the church, participating in revival movements and sparing no effort to extend the kingdom of Christ in the Inner Hebrides. He saw the membership grow vigorously, but he also saw it diminish rapidly, especially in the years after the Potato Famine of 1846, when two-thirds of the members emigrated, chiefly to Bruce and Grey Counties in Upper Canada.’

MacDougall’s sister, Mary, composed sacred and secular verse, including the famous Gaelic hymn, Leanabh an Aigh, known also as the carol Child in the Manger. Duncan MacDougall was also interested in both sacred and secular verse. ‘We know from traditional accounts that Duncan MacDougall himself, while less than enthusiastic about other aspects of “profane” culture, had an immensely high regard for the secular compositions of the Tiree poets. He acted as a kind of human tape-recorder, memorising the compositions of local poets, and, if it should happen that a poet forgot his lines, he would consult the Baptist minister to obtain a verbal transcript. In addition to memorising their compositions, MacDougall helped individual Tiree poets towards literacy; he taught one of the finest of the local poets, the so-called Balemartin Bard, John MacLean, to read and write.’ (Meek, unpublished) MacDougall also acted as a scribe for those islanders who wanted to write to their families abroad. MacDougall died in Tiree in 1852 at the age of 52. He had three sons, John, Donald, and Duncan, all of whom grew up to compose Gaelic songs.

MacNeill (1929: 484) remarks that ‘Macdougall and Peter Grant belong to the same order of simple bard-evangelists who have always been a spiritually elevating force in humble quarters where more ambitious labours have been failures.’ Three of MacDougall’s hymns as published here appeared separately (probably in the period 1871-84, according to the NLS Catalogue), and one of these (his Nighean Shioin) was also issued on its own at an unknown date. Three additional hymns of his, not published in the present volume, were published under the title Trì Laoidhean in 1853.
Contents This volume begins with An Roimhradh (pp. iii-v), by the author. Laoidhean Spioradail (pp. 7-158) contains 38 hymns of various lengths. The last leaf contains An Clar Innse, and on the back of this is a list of Errata.
Sources
Language The hymns in this text are all spiritual and reflect the evangelical concerns of the author. There are a number of recurring themes, including appeals to sinners to mend their ways, praise of God, and the history of Christianity as told in the Bible. MacDougall makes good use of sacred and secular imagery in a number of his hymns, including An t-Allaban (pp. 38-42), An Fhìonain Fhìor (pp. 86-88), and A’ Chlàrsach Mheirgeach (pp. 121-23), which begins: ‘Nis on thàinig na h-eoin as an seomraichean balbh, \ Sa Dheasuich iad an orgain gu ceoil air gach calbh; \ Tha sud a teagasg dhomhsa mo choisridh a ghairm, \ ’S bhi teannachadh mo chòrdan gu ceoilmhor gu seirm. \\ ’S fhad on chrochadh leam mo chlarsach air samhchair ud thall, \ ’S tha siud ionnan ’s bas thoirt air pailiunn n’am ponc; \ Nuair charuich mi mo lamh orr ’bha ’n asaig cho trom, \ ’S nach togadh i mar ’babhaist [sic] dith ’n airde ’m fonn’ (p. 121).

In a number of the poems, MacDougall appeals to sinners to change their ways and to come to God. For example, in Creideamh (pp. 27-29), he asks, ‘Am bheil eagal air t-anam? \ Roimh ’n fheirg tha ri teachd? \ Air an t-shaoghal neo-iompuicht’, \ Nach striochdadh do ’n reachd— \ Agus cionnta gun mhaitheadh; \ Air t-anam mar shachd. \ Creid an Criosd mar t-Fhearsaoraidh, \ ’S gheibh thu saorse gu beachd’ (p. 27). An t-Allaban (pp. 38-42) begins: ‘Fhirr! a tha fathasd air allaban buairidh, \ Ceap an seol-mara ’s thig dhachaidh san uair so; \ Fhad sa fasgadh ri fhaighinn on bhuaireadh: \ Cadhraich an t-accair sa charraig nach gluaisear’ (p. 38). In Comhradh nan Cnochd no Coth-Chainnt Eadear am Fear Duthcha, san t-Oilthireach (pp. 109-20), the two characters speak in turn as the Oilithreach attempts to persuade the Fear Dùthcha to accept salvation.

In An Sgathan (pp. 65-68), MacDougall tells us about his own conversion: ‘Chaith mi mo làithean air feadh an fhàsaich, \ Gu h-uaibhreach àrdanach feargach bàoth; \ ’Nam struigh fhear neo-ghlan làn macnuis ’s cò-strith, \ ’S am ruit-fhear ceolmhor le gòraich fhaoinn \ … \ ’Gu’n eolas Slainteil air Dia ’na’n gràsan, \ Am chreach aig Sàtan Sa’m thràill do’n fheòil; \ Toirt graidh do’n t-shaoghal sdo chuideach bhaoghail, \ Sa chuideach naomh ’s mi nach taòbhadh beo’ (pp. 65-66). Later, however, he comes to see things differently: ‘Ach dh’fhosgail Ughdar na slaint’ mo shuilean \ Nuair thanaig ’n-ùinne a rùnaich E; \ ’S chuir E cho drùiteach an lagh do’m-ionnsuidh, \ ’S gun dhearbh e m-umhlachd bhi dho’na bàs’ (p. 67).

MacDougall also appeals to God to guide sinners to salvation. In A Bhreith (pp. 7-9), for example, we find ‘O Thi th’ anns na Neàmhan air t-àrdachadh shuas, \ Seall ann ad fhàbhar air àrdan an t-Shluaigh: \ Sa mheud dhiu ’s ’tha gòrach snach d-fhòghlum iad uait; \ O pill agus seol agus treoraich iad suas. \\ Fosgail suilean air n-înntinn le ’d Spiorad o’n àird; \ ’S thoir d’ ur n-anamannaibh treòir gu bhi beò ann an ghràdh; \ ’S cuir tart oirn’ a dh’ ol as an t-shòlas nach tràigh, \ As an lanachd tha ’n CRIOSD ’phaigh na fiachan le bhàs’ (p. 7).

In a few of the hymns, including Aran na Beatha (pp. 53-56), MacDougall praises God, e.g. ‘’Se Aran na beath E gu slanach, sgu neartuch, \ SE Prionnsa na beath E. A’s Prionnsa na sìth; \ SE Ios’ E ’S Emanuel Dia a bhi ma[r] ’ruinn \ Ni ’phobull o’m peacadh a shaoradh gu’n dith’ (p. 55).

In Cuireadh na Bainnse (pp. 10-18), MacDougall likens heaven to a wedding party organised by God, and then describes the people’s rejection of God’s intimations of the coming of Christ. ‘Chuir E Sheirbhisich ’mach na faidhean \ Is rinn iad sgeula air teachd an t-Shlan-fhir: \ Iad dheanamh aithreachais: ’s air a sgathsan; \ Nach biodh am peacanna air an àireamh. \\ Ach chuir iad cul sann ri gairm slàinte, \ Agus mhasluich iad a chuid fhaidhean; \ Cuid diu mharbh iad is cuid diubh Shabh iad, \ A’s cuid diu chlach iad a dh’ ionus’ [sic, for dh’ionns’] a bhàise’ (p. 12). MacDougall then goes on to talk about the coming of Jesus.

The sacrifice of Jesus is the focus of An Diomhaireachd Fhoillsichte (pp. 98-102) and An Iobairt Reite (pp. 43-45). The second of these hymns begins: ‘’Si ìobairt a chroinn-cheusaidh fhuair reite ri Dia, \ Do’n dream bha ga reubadh ’s ga cheusadh gu dian; \ Sann dh’fhuiling E na’n-aite bha’ ghradh dhoibh o chian: \ SE’ nis is daingneach laidir da chairdean gach ial’ (p. 43). In Amhghair (p. 61-65), we hear from Jesus himself about his suffering: ‘Chuir Pilat mi Herod is cheasnuich iad gu gèar mi, \ ’S dhìt iad lèis a bhrèig mi ’s iad ’n deigh air mo bhàs: \ ’S guirs’ [sic, for Sgiùrs iad] iad mi gu deistneach gun iochd acca do ’m chrèuchdan; \ ’S bha ’m ’fhuil is m-fheoil a sruthadh dhiom sga rèubadh gu lar’ (p. 63).

In An Ceathramh Pairt (pp. 50-51), MacDougall describes the wonders of heaven awaiting those who follow God: ‘Si ’n rioghachd shona bhuan i, \ Suibhlaibh [sic] trid na’n geatachan \ ’S bidh Flaitheas dhuibh mar dhuais \ Anns an rioghachd shona bhuan so’ (p. 50); ‘’S nuair ruigeas sibh an t-ait’, \ Anns ’m bheil lathaireachd an Uain: \ Theid an armachd chuir na tàmh; \ Anns an arois tha gun bhuaireadh’ (p. 51). In a number of hymns, MacDougall describes the torments of Hell that await those who do not follow God. In Staid Naduir (pp. 22-26), for example, we are told: ‘Tha giosgan fhiacal tha caoidh is sgreadail ann, \ ’S tha losgadh siorruidh gun crioch gun dearadh ann \ Tha ’n duais so cìnnteach ge ’d tha i eagalach \ Do’n dream neo-iompaichte, nach pilltre [sic] chreideamh aisd: \\ O dhuine smaointich gur fior an ceartas so \ ’S gur mor na fiochan a tha e tagradh ort \ ’S mar faigh e dioladh gun dean e peanas ort \ Na urras cìnnteach gu ’d dhion on bhagaradh’ (p. 23). In Deagh-Ghean (pp. 30-33) the fate of the unconverted is made clear: ‘Gach neach bhios gun toradh ’S gun chomhara grais, \ Theid an tilgeadh don loch a tha domhain gu traigh: \ Bhios a losgadh le teine Sle pronnusg gu brath; \ Mur a creid iad an Criosda ’S mar a h-ìompuichear iad’ (p. 31).

In one hymn MacDougall refers to the established denominations of the Church – a matter close to his heart, perhaps, given the different factions operating in Tiree during his time. In An t-Allaban (pp. 38-42) he puts his own view strongly: ‘Tha roinnean san àl so mar ’bha anns an t-sheors ’ud, \ Tha eag lais na h-AlB’ [sic] ann is eaglais na Roimhe; \ Baistidh is Buergars, Independents, ’S Methodists: \ Ach Se their an fhirinn nach eil ann ach da Sheorse. \ Mar as ard tha na Neamh an on talamh an comhnuidh, \ ’S co ard a tha Smuaintean an Tighearn’ o mhòran; \ Ged their daoine gu minic gu’m bheil iomadach seors ann; \ Se slighe gu h-iffrion agus slighe gu gloir th-ann’ (p. 40).

MacDougall frequently refers to the Bible, and to people and events that occur in the Bible. In An t-Shlighe Nuadh (pp. 45-46), for example, he names some Old and New Testament figures who followed ‘the New Way’ to salvation: Sàdrach agus Mèsach \ A’S Abednègo Suas orr’; \ Chaidh Daniel ’S Esèciel; \ A’S Esra ’S Iob le cruadal … \\ Chaidh Ionah agus Nàhum, \ ’S Isaiah ’m fàidhe buadhach: \ ’S bha Ieremiah dìleas \ Tre ’n ti a thug a bhuaigh dha’ (p. 48). His use of Biblical names continues in An Dara Pairt (pp. 48-49) and in An Treas Pairt (pp. 49-50): ‘Bi so an t-shligh’ rinn Abra’m, \ Rinn Caleb agus Ioshua: \ Rinn Isaac agus Iacob; \ Rinn Daibhi agus Ioseph. \ … \ Chaidh Gaius le chuid aoidheachd, \ ’S Persis bean-shaoireach mhòr i: \ Chaidh Rùfus ’s Adronicus\Amplias is Patròbas’ (p. 49). In Na Didein Bhreige (pp. 56-61), we are given biblical precedents for people believing in the ‘false protections’: ‘Bha Isra’elich s an fhasach, \ Ga ’mealladh fèin le sgaile, \ ’S chum sud iad o Chanàan, \ On ghradhaich iad a bhreug; \ ’S bha Corah agus Dathan, \ An aghaigh Mhaois is Aaroin, \ Chionn èud a bhi cho àrd annt’ \ Gu coimhead aithnntibh Dhe; \ ’S bha phairisich Channaoin, \ A saoilsinn a bhi Sabhailt’, \ On shiolaich iad o Abra’m, \ ’S gun ghràdh acc do Mhac Dhe; \ Ach Dhinnis dhoibh an Slan-fhear, \ Gum be an Athair Satan, \ ’S gum b-iad a mhiannan graineil, \ A b-aill leo a bhi deant’ (p. 57). MacDougall mentions specific events from the Bible in a number of hymns, including An Soisgeul (pp. 71-75), where the Resurrection itself is referred to: ‘’S ged a leag iad E san uaigh \ An treas là gun d’thug E buaigh: \ ’S mar fhianuis gun shaor E shluagh, \ Sann ghabhadh suas gu flaitheis E’ (p. 73). The story of Adam and Eve appears in a number of hymns, most notably in An Ceud Adhamh (pp. 91-96) and An Dara Adhamh (pp. 125-27).
Orthography The orthography of this text is interesting in a number of ways. Most obvious, perhaps, is the author’s frequent use of double consonants, as in acc’ (e.g. p. 57), accair (p. 38), Fhirr (p. 38), sinnsearr’ (p. 56), tirr (p. 97), and iffrion (p. 40). Also of interest is the spelling t-sh, more usually t-s, in cases like air an t-shaoghal (p. 27). The s of is ‘and’ is often combined with a following preposition, e.g. Sle (p. 31), sgu (p. 55), and sdo (p. 66). Capital letters are sometimes used unnecessarily, e.g. le teine Sle pronnusg (p. 31).

There are a number of irregularities and inconsistencies in spelling, e.g. cuid diu … cuid diubh (p. 12). Word divisions are sometimes erratic, e.g. eag lais [for eaglais] na h-AlB’ (p. 40), pilltre [for pill tre] (p. 23). The rule of caol ri caol is leathan ri leathan is sometimes ignored, e.g. saorse (p. 27). Other apparent eccentricities may have different explanations: neo-’nach (p. 34) may show awareness of the word’s etymology or of earlier spellings ending with -ghnach (for -ghnàthach); tharais (p. 94) may represent an actual dialectal variant.
Edition First edition.
Other Sources
Further Reading MacNeill, Nigel, The Literature of the Highlanders, 1929.
Meek, Donald, ‘The Gospel Fisherman: The Gaelic Hymns and Cultural Perspectives of Duncan MacDougall of Tiree’, unpublished article.
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