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Metadata for text 188
No. words in text69124
Title Sailm Dhaibhidh A Meadar Dhàna Gaoidheilg, Do rèir na Heabhra: Agus na translàsioin is fearr a Mbéarla agus a Nlaidin, do thionnsgnadh le Seanadh Earraghaoidheal san Bhliadhna 1659, agus anois air a ntabhairt gu crích, do chum gu dèanta an seinn a Neaglaisaibh agus a dteaghlachaibh a ghnáthuigheas an chánamhain sin
Author N/A (Translated work)
Editor Synod of Argyll
Date Of Edition 1694
Date Of Language 17th c.
Publisher le Oighreachaibh Aindra Ainderson
Place Published Edinburgh (a Ndùn-Edin)
Volume N/A
Location National
Link Digital version created by National Library of Scotland
Download File PDF / plain text 
Geographical Origins Various
Register Religion, Prose and Verse
Alternative Author Name N/A
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 13cm x 7cm
Short Title Sailm Dhaibhidh
Reference Details NLS: F.7.g.8(1)
Number Of Pages [6], 275, 33
Gaelic Text By Various
Illustrator N/A
Social Context The following information has been taken largely from Duncan C. MacTavish’s Introduction to the 1934 edition of the 1694 psalms. All quotations, unless otherwise stated, are from this work. A number of different editions of the psalms were published during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, beginning with the 1659 publication of the first fifty psalms.

The 1659 edition (NLS: Ferg.7)
In 1653 the Synod of Argyll began discussions on a Gaelic translation of the Psalms. In 1655 they chose six members to translate the first 80 psalms by May 1656. The first two translators were Ewen Cameron, who was to translate the first 20 psalms, and Dugald Campbell, who was to translate the second twenty. Although more translators were enlisted, and the number of psalms to be translated was increased, by 1657 the work was still incomplete. The first fifty psalms were finally completed by Dugald Campbell, John Stewart (minister of Kingarth), and Alexander MacLaine (minister of Strachur and Strathlachlan), and, after revision, their translations were approved by the Synod. The first fifty psalms were finally published in 1659, along with the second edition of the shorter catechism (first published in 1653). 1,200 copies were published under the title An ceud chaogad do Shalmaibh Dhaibhidh, air a dtarring as an Eabhra, a Meadar Dhana Gaoidhlig, le Seanadh Earraghaoidheal. Neoch a dorduigh an Seinm a Neaglaisaibh, agus a Dteaghlichaibh, a Ghnathuigheas an Chanambain sin is na Criochaibh ceudna. The publication details read Do chuireadh so a gclo a Nglasgo, le Aindra Ainderson, Mbliadanna ar Dtighearna, 1659. At the time of publication, the Synod had already appointed a number of ministers to undertake the work of translating the other 100 psalms, including Dugald Campbell, John Stewart, and Alexander MacLaine. When Campbell died in 1673, the work was still unfinished, although MacTavish notes that ‘it is probable that he and his son Duncan, who was outed in 1662, had largely completed the translation of the rest of the Psalms’ (p. xii).

The Shorter Catechism
The second edition of the Shorter Catechism, plus the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed, was appended to this volume. The first edition of the Shorter Catechism had been published in 1653, but there appears to be no extant copy of this text. The present volume should therefore be used as the primary source for the Shorter Catechism. A copy of the 1659 Shorter Catechism and the following works were republished in Thomson’s Adtimchiol an Chreidimh in 1962.

Kirk’s edition of 1684 (NLS: H.31.f.8)
In 1673, Robert Kirk, the Episcopalian minister at Balquhidder, applied to the Synod for permission to publish his own version of the psalms. A number of ministers were appointed to report on, and subsequently revise, the translation. Kirk’s edition of the psalms was eventually published in 1684, under the title Psalma Dhaibhidh a nMeadrachd. Do reír an Phriomh-chanamain. The publication details read: Air a ngur a ngló a nDún-Edin le M. Sémus Kniblo, Iosua van Solingen agus Seón Colmar. See texts 160 and 173 for more information on Kirk.

The 1694 edition (NLS: F.7.g.8(1))
Work on a new edition of the psalms by the Synod of Argyll commenced in 1690. A copy of the existing translation was divided among the following to be prepared for the press: Neil Clark (minister of Strachur and Strathlachlan), Dugald Campbell (minister of Kilmartin), Duncan Campbell, John Maclaurin (minister of Kilmodan), and Robert Duncanson. The first fifty psalms were revised but not substantially altered. MacTavish claims that Kirk had also used the first fifty psalms as previously printed; but this was not in fact the case, as the quotations below will show. The Synod obtained an Act of Council through the Commissioners of the General Assembly for the publication of the psalms, and they were finally published in 1694, under the title Sailm Dhaibhidh A Meadar Dhàna Gaoidheilg, Do rèir na Heabra: Agus na translàsioin is fearr a Mbéarla agus a Nlaidin, do thionnsgnadh le Seanadh Earraghaoidheal san bhliadhna 1659, agus a nois air an ntabhairt gu crích, do chum gu dèanta an seinm a Neaglaisaibh agus a dteaghlachaibh a ghnáthuigheas an chánamhain sin. The record of publication reads: Do chuireadh so a ngclò a Ndùn-Edin le Oighreachaibh Aindra Ainderson a Mbliadhna ar Dtighearna 1694.

Further editions
The 1694 edition was reprinted a number of times before 1752 (with minor changes in orthography). After 1752, four revised versions of the Psalms were issued in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries: MacFarlane’s in 1753, Smith’s in 1787, Ross’s in 1807, and the General Assembly’s in 1826. The 1694 edition of the psalms was republished in 1934 in Lochgilphead, with an historical introduction by Duncan C. MacTavish. The text appears to be almost identical to the 1694 text, but differs in the use of accents and in the removal of certain printer’s errors (see pp. xvii-xviii for the editor’s explanation). Editors are therefore advised to quote from the original 1694 text. In the introduction to the 1934 edition of the 1694 psalms, MacTavish explains that one of the reasons for this new edition was to counteract the ‘exaggerated impression … of the extent of the alterations effected by the successive revisers’ (p. v), and to show that ‘the main credit for the versions of the Gaelic metrical Psalms at present in use … is due, not to the revisers, but to the seventeenth century Presbyterian ministers who were responsible for the original translation’ (p. vi). Kirk’s edition was never republished.

MacFarlane’s edition of 1753 (Sp. Coll.: E.B. .223504/1)
In 1750, Alexander MacFarlane (who had published a translation of Baxter’s Call to the Unconverted in that same year) approached the Synod with suggestions for the revision of the orthography used in the previous editions of the psalms. This was agreed upon, but the final publication was delayed, firstly because MacFarlane wanted to see how his translation of Baxter’s work was viewed, and secondly because he was working on a Gaelic Grammar which he wanted to finish before beginning work on a new edition of the Psalms. His edition was finally published in 1753, under the title Sailm Dhaibhidh ann dan Gaoidhealach, do reir na Heabhra, Agus an eidir-theangachaidh a’s fearr ann Laidin, ann Gaoidheilg, ’s ann Gaillbhearla. \ Do thionnsgnadh le Seanadh Earra-Ghaoidheal s a’ bhliadhna 1659, agus do chriochnaigheadh s an 1694, r’an seinn ann eaglaisibh ’s ann teaghlaichibh Gaoidhealach. Agus, do ghlanadh anois o mhearachdaibh lionmhor clodh-bhualaidh, air iarrtas agus do reir seolaidh an tSeanaidh cheadna. Twenty one editions of MacFarlane’s translation were published between 1753 and 1821. MacTavish comments that ‘Apart from the introduction of a revised and uniform system of orthography MacFarlane made comparatively few alterations in the text of the 1694 edition’ (p. xxi).

Smith’s edition of 1787
A newly revised edition of the Psalms, by Dr. John Smith of Campbelltown, was published in 1787, under the title Sailm Dhaibhidh. Maille ri laoidhean o ’n Scrioptur Naomha; chum bhi air an seinn ann an aora’ Dhia. Air an leasachadh, agus air an cur amach do reir seolaidh, iartais, agus ughdarais Seanaidh Earra-ghaeil. His revisions were more extensive than MacFarlane’s, and it was noted that ‘all the North country words and Irishisms are thrown out, and the metre is suited to the West country dialect’ (quoted in MacTavish, p. xxi). The changes made by Smith sometimes had knock-on effects, and the rephrasing of one line of verse often led to the rephrasing of the next few lines. MacTavish notes, ‘Despite the backing of the Synod of Argyll, which appears to have been given without any detailed examination of the alterations which were proposed, Smith’s version did not recommend itself to a considerable body of the people, who had become accustomed to the language of the older editions, and to whom, as their knowledge of the translation had been largely acquired orally, the revised orthography of MacFarlane’s edition had meant nothing.’

Ross’s edition of 1807
In 1807, another revision was published by Dr. Thomas Ross, minister of Lochbroom. MacTavish notes that this edition was ‘practically a reissue of MacFarlane’s version in the same orthography as had been used in the recently issued Gaelic translation of the Bible’. This edition was entitled Sailm Dhaibhidh ann an dan Gaidhealach : do reir na Heabhra, agus an Eadar-Theangachaidh as fearr an Laidin, an Gaidhlig, s an Gaill-bheurla: do thionnsgnadh le Seanadh Earra-Ghaidheal sa Bhliadhna 1659, agus do chrìochnaicheadh san 1694, r’an seinn ann an Eaglaisibh ’s ann an Teaghlaichibh Gaidhealach: air an glanadh a nis o mhearachdaibh lìonmhor a Chlòdh-bhualaidh, agus air an atharrachadh, le ro bheag caochladh air na briathraibh, do rèir gnè sgrìobhaidh an t-seann Tiomnaidh agus an Tiomnaidh Nuaidh.

The General Assembly edition of 1826
Both Ross’s and Smith’s editions were in use in 1826, when the General Assembly (through the SSPCK) issued yet another edition, entitled Sailm Dhaibhidh, maille ri laoidhibh, air an tarruing o na Scrioptuiribh Naomha: chum bhi air an seinn an aorabh dhe \ air an leasachadh, agus air an cur a mach le h-ughdarras Ard-sheanaidh Eaglais na h-Alba. This edition was intended to ‘unite the merits’ of Smith’s and Ross’s editions (quoted in MacTavish, p. xxiii). Although the General Assembly wished their edition to supersede all previous editions, ordering that their edition be used in all of their churches, MacTavish notes that ‘the publication of the General Assembly’s version has not been successful, and the position now, after the lapse of more than a century, is that, instead of superseding the two versions in use in 1826, it has merely taken its place as a third competing version’ (p. xxiv).
Contents The 1659 edition comprises the first fifty psalms and includes the second edition of the shorter catechism, entitled Foirceadul Aithghearr Cheasnuighe. The volume begins with an address Do chum an Leghthora, and at the end of the volume we find Na Deich Naitheanta, Urnuighe an Tighearna, and A Chred.

The 1694 edition included all 150 psalms alongside the three prayers which appeared in the 1659 edition.

Kirk’s edition of 1684 contains his translation of all 150 psalms, and also includes Caintic Shimeoin, Caintic le Sacharias, Caintic Mhuire, An Ghloir-bhriathar. It ends with a list of errata.

The 1753 edition contains MacFarlane’s translation of all 150 psalms, plus Laoidhe Eidir-theangaicht’ agus Eidir-Mhinicht’ o Chuimh-reannaibh Eagsamhail do ’n Scrioptur Naomhtha, which comprises 45 hymns translated into Gaelic. These are followed by a list of the hymns, Nochdoir Teagsa nan Reimh-eidir-theangachadh, which gives the number of the hymn and the Biblical passage it refers to.

The three later editions, Smith’s in 1787, Ross’s in 1807, and the General Assembly’s in 1826, were not consulted for this report. Editors should, however, bear them in mind when compiling dictionary entries.
Sources See Social Context and Contents above, and Language below.
Language The orthography of the 1659 and 1694 editions
The language of the 1659 and 1694 editions varies only slightly, and mostly in orthography, as can be seen from the two versions of Salm I below.

Salm I of the 1659 edition reads:

Beannaigh an duine sin nach gluais
A ngcomhairl’ dhaoine daoi,
An ’slighe fhiar na mbpeacach bao
Na sheasamh fos nach bí,
A ngcathair fanoid luchd an spors’
Nach togair suidh gu brath.
Achd gabhail toil do naomhreachd De,
Ga smuaintiug~adh oidhch, is la.

Salm I of the 1694 edition reads:

Beannuight an duine sin nach gluais
A ngcomhairle na ndaoi,
An slighe fhiar na mbpeacach bao
Na sheasamh fos nach bí,
A ngathair fanoid luchd an spórs’
Nach togair suigh’ gu bráth.
Acht gabhail toil do naomhreachd Dé,
Ga smuaintiug~hadh oidhch’, is lá.

In can be seen from the above quotations, and from the titles of these three editions, that their orthography, which pre-dates the first edition of the New Testament, contains some pre-Modern forms and conventions. For example, we see the use of the pre-verb do to mark past tense, e.g. do thug fa near a ngniomh (1659, p. 75) and Do bhuaileadh leisan (1694, p. 141), and pre-Modern ways of representing eclipsis, e.g. na mbpeacach (1659, p. 7) and na ndaoine (1659, p. 75). The first word is in ‘Classical’ form (beannaighthe) in 1659, in ‘Scottish Gaelic’ form (beannaichte) in 1694.

R. L. Thomson notes that the Shorter Catechism was ‘the first printed text to exhibit unmistakably Scottish Gaelic characteristics’ (Thomson 1994, p. 37). In the Introduction to his 1962 edition of Calvin’s Catechism, Adtimchiol an Chreidimh, Thomson describes the language of that Catechism, which was first published in Gaelic around 1630, as ‘early modern Irish with a few lapses into Scottish usage’. In contrast, in the language of the 1659 Shorter Catechism ‘divergences from Irish usage are so frequent as to assume the character of normality’ (1962, p. xxxv). He notes ‘a striking difference’ (ibid.) between the language employed in the translation of Calvin’s Catechism and that employed in the translation of the Shorter Catechism, which was first published less than thirty years later. Thomson discusses some of these differences in the section on the Language of the Shorter Catechism in his 1962 edition.

The introduction to the 1659 edition of the psalms, Do chum an Leghthora, includes a statement on the form of language used. Firstly, it is stated that the Gaelic translation had to be constructed so as to enable it to be sung to non-Gaelic tunes: Gu bfedar na Sailmsa a chur ann sa ghne Meadrachd sin ata comhuighach, ano-sach don teangaidh Ghaoidhlig, chum gu biodh iad freagrach do na fonnaibh gallta (p. 4). It is then stated that the language used was true (as far as was possible) to the original Hebrew: Tuig fos gu budh dleas duinn leanmhuinn ris an cheud-chanamhain (iodhon an Eabhra) comhdhludh is a bfeidar linn, is uime sin do roghnaidh sinn na focail sin amhain is fearr no cheile thigeadh ris an adhbhar, agus is foigse don cheud-chanamhain sin (p. 4). It was also stated that, Tabhair fa near mar a ngceudna gu bfedar focal aon siolaidh a chur ann an deireadh na linn, an gcoitcheannas, chum gur blaiste rithadh an rann sin do dheanamh, iodhon na focailsa ta, la, etc. (p. 4). In addition, it is explained that in order to fit the words to the metre, some syllables had to be left out. Where syllables are missing at the beginning or at the end of a word, an apostrophe is used to mark this, e.g. ’Sle rather than Is le, and Comhairl’ rather than Comhairle. Where syllables have been omitted in the middle of a word, the symbol ~ is used, e.g. Samhlug~hadh, which ought to be pronounced as Samhluadh. In some cases, shortened words are not marked in any way, e.g. Toir rather than Tabhair, and ar uairaibh ni bfuil comhartha sambìth ar an fhocal is coir a dhearradh, is ni mo ata cuid ar fhagail a muigh, achd fedfuidh tu sin aithniughadh ar fuaim na liné, ma bheir tu fa near gu bfuil ochd siolaidh ann san cheud lin, agus sé san dara lin (p. 5). The 1694 edition follows these usages.

Kirk’s 1684 edition
In the introduction to the 1684 edition, Kirk notes that ‘The Language being Vehicl of the more substantial part, I endeavour’d here what was native and proper, but clean and plain for all capacities, shunning as much as I could, tedious, tumultuous and disjoynted phrases. And tho I have also stript some words of their superfluous and ambulatory letters, reserving the possessive, as the several Irish Grammers come to my hands do allow’ (pp. 3-4).

Kirks translations differed substantially from those published in 1659, in the language used and likewise in the orthography. This can be seen by comparing his rendition of Salm I with that of the first edition.

Salm I of Kirk’s edition reads:

Beannuight’ an dujne sin nach gluais
A ngcomhairle na ndaoj,
Nach seas a nsligh’ luchd uilc, ’san áit’
Luchd fochaid fós nach suigh.
Achd a nlagh Dé da bfuil a thlachd,
Ga smuaineadh oidhch is ló.

The 1753 edition
The orthography of the psalms was modernised in the 1753 edition. The translation follows closely that of the 1659 and 1694 editions.

Salm I of the 1753 edition reads:

’S Beannuight’ an duine sin nach gluais
ann comhairle nan daoi,
Ann slighe fhiar nam peacach baoth
’n a sheasamh fòs nach bì,
Ann cathair fanoid luchd an spòrs’
nach togair suidh’ gu bràth.
Ach gabhail toil do naoimh-reachd De,
’g a smuaintiugh’ oidhch’, is la.

The Shorter Catechism
For a detailed examination of the orthography used in the first fifty Psalms (1659) and the Shorter Catechism that was published with them, see Thomson’s articles in Scottish Gaelic Studies and the section on Language of the Shorter Catechism in his 1962 edition of Adtimchiol an Chreidimh. It will be enough to note here that the orthography was not totally consistent in either text.
Edition See Social Context and Contents, and Language above. Editors should be aware of the different versions of the psalms that exist, and should quote from the earliest text that contains the required excerpt. Editors should also be aware that two later editions of the psalms are included in the present Corpus, namely Leabhar na h’Urnuigh Choitchionn (1794, Text 152) and the Leabhraiche an t-Seann Tiomnaidh (Book III, 1801, Text 160).
Other Sources
Further Reading Thomson, Derick S., ed., The Companion to Gaelic Scotland (Glasgow, 1994: Gairm).
Thomson, R. L., Adtimchiol an Chreidimh (Edinburgh, 1962: Scottish Gaelic Texts Society).
Thomson, R. L., ‘The Language of the Shorter Catechism (1659)’, SGS, 12 (1971), 34-51.
Thomson, R. L., ‘The Language of the Caogad (1659)’, SGS, 12 (1976), 143-82.
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