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Metadata for text 176
No. words in text19823
Title Leabhar-Ceist na Mathair do’n Leanabh Og no Reamh-Chuiddeacha do Dhaoine Òg Ain-eolach chum ’sgu b’àishichte dhoibh Leabhar-aith-ghearr Ceist na Heaglaish a Thuigsin
Author N/A (Translated work)
Editor N/A
Date Of Edition 1752
Date Of Language 18th c.
Publisher [John Orr, Bookseller] (Published ‘Gu feim … 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 Dugald Buchanan (Dùghall Bochanan) from John Willison
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. In 1704 he married Margaret Arnot. 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 parishioners at Brechin 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 Apology for the Church of Scotland Against the Accusations of Prelatists and Jacobites (1719), he vented 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 aims of the seceders. Indeed, in one of his sermons, published in 1733 as The Church’s Danger, Willison explicitly argued the case for 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 who often criticised the established church when he believed its leaders 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 confronted 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 were devotional in nature, and were well known and respected during his time. These include An Example of Plain Catechising upon the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism (1737); A Sacramental Directory (1741); The Afflicted Man's Companion (1743); and Sacramental Meditations and Advices (1747). Willison died in Dundee in May 1750.

The translator of this work was Dugald Buchanan (see Meek 2016, p. 31). 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 lived what he later described as 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. The evidence for this is contained in a letter from the Rev. John MacLaurin to his brother Colin, the distinguished mathematician. Buchanan never became a minister but this scholarly element in his background may explain why he was later asked to supervise the printing of the Gaelic New Testament in Edinburgh in 1765-7. He had in fact become a schoolmaster in Strowan, then Drumcastle and finally at Kinloch Rannoch. He published a collection of eight Gaelic hymns in 1767, and is widely regarded as the most distinguished of Gaelic hymn-writers. The following year, he died of the fever and is buried in Little Leny, Callander. For more information on Buchanan, see Text 172.
Contents Replace existing entry with the following:
On the verso 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’ (p. ii). This is followed by Focall do Pharantaibh Criostuigh (pp. iii-v), in which the writer urges parents to bring children up as good Christians, and Focall do Chloinn Oig (pp. vi-viii), in which he urges children to remember God in their daily lives.
The Catechism is divided into two sections, as follows:
Cuidd do Cheistibh aith-ghearr agus Aisheach iomchuidh a theagasg Chloinne Oga agus aittim eile, mu’ n bi iad commasach leabhar aith-ghear nan Ceist fhaotain air mheoghair agus a thuigsin (pp. 9-39): This section consists of questions relating to church doctrine and to the New Testament.
Cuidd do Cheistibh-eachdaireachd ar son Cloinne ass an Bhiobal (pp. 39-46): This section consists of questions relating to the people and events of the Old and New Testaments.
The Catechism is followed by Na Deich Aitheantibh ann a meadarachd dhàn chuammanta (p. 46), and Cuidd dh’fhoirm urnuigh ar-son Cloinne araon ar la-seachduin, agus Saboide (pp. 47-64), which contains prayers for weekday mornings and evenings, for Sunday mornings and evenings, and for before and after meals. The volume is concluded by Laoidh, no Dàn-spioradail ar-son Chloinn Oig (pp. 61-64).
Language The two main sections in this volume are laid out in a question and answer format. The questions are not numbered, nor are there any subject headings. The first section consists of questions relating to God, Jesus, and general questions about doctrine. It opens as follows: ‘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). Here are some further examples of the style and tone of the Catechism: (1) ‘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). (2) ‘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). (3) ‘C. Creud iad na h Eilemeintibh o’n leith a muigh ata ann a Suippeir an Tighearna? \ F. Arran, agus fion’ (p. 34).

The second section contains questions relating to the people and events of the Old and New Testaments, e.g.: ‘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); ‘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).

The last section contains 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 appeals to God, with confessions of guilt and pleas for redemption, e.g.: ‘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).

The language is fluent and assured throughout. There are many respects in which the translator’s Gaelic is reflected, some pertaining to his native dialect and some to his preaching style. The proportions of these elements and their inter-relationships have not been fully researched as yet.
Orthography The orthography is characteristic of the mid-eighteenth century. The most striking features are the numerous doubled consonants, e.g. eille (p. 18), creiddeamh (p. 32), teassairg (p. 47); and the frequent use of sh for palatalised (‘slender’) s, e.g. aisheach (p. 9), sho (p. 18), shin (p. 32), aoish (p. 39). It is comparable to that used in the 1750 translation of Richard Baxter’s Gairm an De Mhoir. (See Text 179 for a fuller account of this orthographical system.)
Edition First edition. According to the Scottish Gaelic Union Catalogue, a further nineteen editions were published.
Other Sources
Further Reading Meek, Dòmhnall E., Laoidhean Spioradail Dhùghaill Bhochanain (Glasgow, 2015: Scottish Gaelic Texts Society).
Willison, John, Apology for the Church of Scotland against the Accusations of Prelatists and Jacobites (Edinburgh, 1719: James McEuen, William Brown and John Mosman).
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