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Metadata for text 176
No. words in text19823
Title Leabhar-Ceist na Mathair do’n Leanabh Og no Reamh-Chuiddeachd do Dhaoine Òg Ain-eolach chum ’sgu b’àishichte dhoibh Leabhar-aith-ghearr Ceist na Heaglaish a Thuigsin. … Le J. W. Minishter an t soisgeul ag Dundee. Clo-bhuailt’ san bheurla naoi uaire deug. Agus anoish air na churr an Gailic chum leas-coitcheann Gaidhealtachd Alba
Author Willison, John
Editor N/A
Date Of Edition 1752
Date Of Language 18th c.
Publisher Join Orr, agus a Choi’-phartneiribh
Place Published Glasgow (Glassacha)
Volume N/A
Location National and academic libraries
Link Digital version created by National Library of Scotland
Download File PDF / plain text 
Geographical Origins Perthshire
Register Religion, Prose
Alternative Author Name N/A
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 17cm x 10cm
Short Title Leabhar-Ceist na Mathair
Reference Details NLS: KK.7/1
Number Of Pages 64
Gaelic Text By Dùghall Bochanan
Illustrator N/A
Social Context This text is a Gaelic translation of John Willison’s Mother’s Catechism, first published in 1725. John Willison was born at Craigforth, near Stirling, in 1680. He was educated at Glasgow University, and married Margaret Arnot in 1704. They had five children, one of whom, David, went on to become a printer and publisher in Edinburgh, and to become the father of the portrait painter, George Willison. Willison was licensed by the Presbytery of Stirling in November 1701, and was ordained at Brechin in 1703. He encountered a certain amount of resistance from those Brechin parishioners who had Jacobite and Episcopalian sympathies, and it was not until 1708 that the Episcopal minister (who also had the support of the local magistrates) was removed. Willison remained at Brechin until 1716, when he answered the call to Dundee South Church. He remained in Dundee until his death in 1750. In his 1719 publication, Apology for the Church of Scotland Against the Accusations of Prelatists and Jacobites, Willison aired his feelings about the way he had been treated in Brechin. Willison went on to become a major force in the Church of Scotland as an advocate of evangelicalism, and he continued to support the Church of Scotland through the secession of 1733, despite agreeing with the secessors’ motives. Indeed, in one of his sermons, published in 1733 as The Church’s Danger, Willison preached on the benefits of keeping the church together. Willison later played a part in restoring the seceders to their previous places in the Church, although he was unsuccessful in his attempts to secure the abolition of the 1712 Patronage Act. In the early 1740s Willison travelled to Cambuslang to investigate the religious revival that was taking place due to the preaching of George Whitefield. On his journey back to Dundee, Willison himself preached a sermon at Kilsyth that brought about a religious revival.

Willison was a prolific writer, and often spoke out against the established church when he believed it to be deviating from approved practices. Willison had opposed John Glas, the minister of Tealing, who, in 1725, argued for a number of changes in church practices. In 1745, Willison was opposed by members of the Jacobite army, who threatened to shoot him if he dared pray for George II, and he had to close the church for a time. Many of Willison’s writings, however, were devotional in nature, and were well known and respected during his time. Examples include The Afflicted Man’s Companion, published in 1743; A Sacramental Directory, published in 1741; Sacramental Meditations and Advices, published in 1747; and An Example of Plain Catechising upon the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism, published in 1737 (see Text 176). Willison died in Dundee in May 1750.

The translator of this work was Dugald Buchanan. Dugald Buchanan was born in Ardoch, Strathyre, Perthshire in 1716, the son of a miller and farmer. His mother died when he was six years old. Both parents were religious and the memory of his mother’s devoutness stayed with him throughout his life. He began his working life as a tutor in his home area before learning his trade as a joiner in Kippen, Stirling, and Dumbarton. He claimed to have lived a dissolute life until the 1740s, when he began to be concerned about the state of his soul and suffered four agonising years of spiritual turmoil, after which he experienced evangelical conversion. Around 1740, he was in the Divinity College in Glasgow University and was highly-regarded, particularly for his skills in biblical languages. This is evidenced in a letter from the Rev. John MacLaurin to his brother Colin, the distinguished mathematician. Buchanan never became a minister but this academic background may explain why it was he who was to asked to supervise the printing of the Gaelic New Testament in Edinburgh in 1765-7. He, in fact, became a schoolmaster in Strowan, then Drumcastle and finally at Kinloch Rannoch. He published a small collection of verse, eight hymns, in 1767 and is widely regarded as the most distinguished of Gaelic hymnwriters. The following year, he died of the fever and is buried in Little Leny, Callander. For more information on Buchanan, see Text 172 (The Spiritual Songs of Dugald Buchanan).
Contents On the back of the title page is an Advertisement/Rabhadh, in Gaelic and English, stating that the publisher is willing to print more Gaelic books ‘if he meets with due Encouragement’. This is followed by Focall do Pharantaibh Criostuigh (pp. iii-v), in which the author urges parents to educate their children in the ways of the Bible, and Focall do Chloinn Oig (pp. vi-viii), in which the author urges children to remember God in their daily lives.

The Catechism is presented in two sections as follows:

Cuidd do Cheistibh aith-ghearr agus Aisheach iomchuidh a theagasg Chloinne Oga (pp. 9-39): agus aittim eile, mu’ n bi iad commasach leabhar aith-ghear nan Ceist fhaotain air mheoghair agus a thuigsin. Questions relating to church doctrine and to the New Testament.

Cuidd do Cheistibh-eachdaireachd ar son Cloinne ass an Bhiobal (pp. 39-46): Questions relating to the people and events of the Old and New Testaments.

At the end of this volume we find Na Deich Aitheantibh (p. 46), ann a meadarachd dhàn chuammanta, and Cuidd dh’fhoirm urnuigh ar-son Cloinne araon ar la-seachduin, agus Saboide (pp. 47-64), which comprises prayers for weekday mornings and evenings, for Sunday mornings and evenings, and for before and after meals. This section finishes with Laoidh, no Dàn-spioradail ar-son Chloinn Oig (pp. 61-64).
Language The two main sections in this volume are presented in a question and answer format. The questions are not numbered, nor are there any subject headings. In the first section, we find questions relating to God, Jesus, and general questions about doctrine. It begins with ‘Ceist. Co rinn thu? \ Freagar. Rinn Dia \ C. Co e an neach ata ga do shaoradh? \ F. Tha Criost. \ C. Co e an neach ata ga do naomhacha? \ F. Tha an Spiorad-naomh. \ C. Cia dheth d’an d’rinneadh thu? \ F. Do dhuslach na talmhain’ (p. 9). We also find ‘C. Co e Josa Criost sho? \ F. Mac siorruidhe Dhe, agus an dara pearsa do ’n trionoid-ghlor-mhor. \ C. An bheill aittim air bith eille aig Dia da ’n goirrear a Chlann, a bharr air ar Tighearna Iosa Criost? \ F. Tha. \ C. Co iad? \ F. Ainglibh agus Creidmheachibh’ (p. 18), ‘C. Co iad na fior-chreidmhigh? \ F. An dream shin a theich a dh’ionsuidhe Josa Criost, agus a dhlu-ghabh chuca e le fior-chreiddeamh’ (p. 32), and ‘C. Creud iad na h Eilemeintibh o’n leith a muigh ata ann a Suippeir an Tighearna? \ F. Arran, agus fion’ (p. 34).

In the second section we find questions relating to the people and events of the Old and New Testaments. For example, we find ‘C. Co an duine bu mhò aoish air an t shaoghal? \ F. Bha Methusaladh’ (p. 39), ‘C. Ciod e mar bha na h Israelitigh air na conbhail fo-chois ann san Eiphte? \ F. Rinneadh traillaibh do’n cuirp, agus sgriossadh an leinnibh-mhic ann san abhainn Nilus’ (p. 41), and ‘C. Co e an neach shin leish an do dhideagh Criost a bhí air na cheusadh? \ F. Le Pontius Pilate an t uachdaran Romanach. \ C. Co bhrosduigh Pilate a dheanadh? \ F. Brosduigh na Judhuighe’ (p. 45).

In the last section of this volume we find prayers to be said on different days of the week and at different times of the day. Most of them are in the form of pleas to God, acknowledging His power, and praying for redemption. For example, we find ‘O Tighearna ’ta mi ag aidmheil, gu do thoill mi gu ceart-bhreitheach ifrionn, agus mur bhiodh gu d’ ullamhuigh thussa Slanai-fhear dhomh bhithinn sgriosta cailte gu siorruidh: a Tighearna teassairg mi o’n fheirg ata chum teachd, air sgàth Josa Criost do mhic a leag sìos anam chum mo leithids’ a pheacach bochd a shàbhalacha’ (p. 47).
Orthography The orthography appears to be that of the mid-eighteenth century, and is comparable to that used in the 1750 translation of Richard Baxter’s Gairm an De Mhoir (Text 179). See Text 179 for more details.
Edition First edition. According to the Scottish Gaelic Union Catalogue, a further nineteen editions were published.
Other Sources
Further Reading Buchanan, D., The Diary of Dugald Buchanan (Edinburgh, 1836: [n. pub.].
MacBean, L., Buchanan: Sacred Bard (London, 1919: [n. pub.]).
MacInnes, J., The Evangelical Movement in the Highlands of Scotland, 1688 to 1800 (Aberdeen, 1951: Aberdeen University Press).
Meek, D. E., ‘Ath-sgrùdadh: Dùghall Bochanan’ in Gairm, 147 (1989), 269-280 and 148 (1989), 319-331.
Meek, D. E., ‘Imagery of the Natural World in the Hymnology of Dugald Buchanan and Peter Grant’ in SGS, 17 (1996), 263-77.
Meek, D. E., Laoidhean Spioradail Dhùghaill Bhochanain (Glasgow, 2015: Scottish Gaelic Texts Society).
Sinclair, J., Reminiscences of Dugald Buchanan (Edinburgh, 1875: Religious Tract and Book Society).
Sutherland, A. C., ‘The Poetry of Dugald Buchanan, the Rannach Bard’ TGSI, 3-4 (1873-75), 101-115.
Thomson, D. S., ‘Dùghall Bochanan’ in An Gaidheal 56, 1958.
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