Prayer For the Faithful, by Saint Patrick

May the Strength of God guide us.fullsizeoutput_98

May the Power of God preserve us.

May the Wisdom of God instruct us.

May the Hand of God protect us.

May the Way of God direct us.

May the Shield of God defend us.

May the Angels of God guard us.

-Against the snares of the evil one.

May Christ be with us!

May Christ be before us!

May Christ be in us,

Christ be over all!

May Thy Grace, Lord, 

Always be ours,

This day, O Lord, and forevermore.  Amen.

 

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

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Happy Valentine’s Day

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A Red, Red Rose

-by Robert Burns (1759-96)

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose,
That’s newly sprung in June:
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare-thee-weel, my only Luve!
And fare-thee-weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ ’twere ten thousand mile!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day to each of you today!

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The Bard of Ayrshire: Robert Burns

Welcome back! I hope everyone is having a terrific week.

Today I would like to pick up where I left off in my previous post about Scottish poet Robert Burns and the annual Burns Night celebration. I promised you I would go a little deeper into the life of the man who penned ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and who some 222 years later, is regarded as the national poet of Scotland. So let’s dig in!

Ol’ Rabbie was a handsome chap, eh?

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The eldest of seven children, Robert Burns was born on January 25, 1759 in a small town in Ayrshire, Scotland. His father, William Burnes (the family later dropped the ‘e’), and mother, Agnes Brown, were poor tenant farmers. Because of their impoverished situation, young Robert’s formative years were spent engaged in hard, manual labor on the family farm. This facet of his life would shape his world view and inform his writing throughout the years.

Despite their difficult and humble circumstances, William and Agnes understood the value of education. So, in addition to farm labor, Robert and his siblings were given the opportunity to learn. As a result, Burns became an avid reader and at an early age began to show an aptitude for writing prose. According to the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, he penned his first song at the tender age of fifteen – a love song to his crush, Nellie Kilpatrick, called “Handsome Nell” (also referred to as “‘O once I lov’d a bonnie lass”).

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This was only the beginning of Burns’ literary awakening. By the age of twenty-seven, he had already acquired fame across Scotland with his first collection of poems, entitled “Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect”. In his short life, Burns would go on to pen hundreds of poems and songs, many written in the Scots language and many in English. Burns explored a vast array of topics in his writings – love, death, drink, humor, friendship, nature, nationalism, religion, politics, family, farming (which always remained close to this heart), and many many more.

It is undeniable that Rabbie led a…well…colorful and varied life. He became a Freemason in 1781. And as a result of his lifestyle choices (chiefly, his tremendous admiration for the fairer sex and drink), he also found himself in frequent conflict with the Church of Scotland. Though married to Jean Armour, Burns had numerous illicit relationships. He fathered twelve children (oh yes he did!), eight of which were born to his wife.

A rift in their relationship nearly led to Burns emigrating to the West Indies with is lover Mary Campbell (his Highland Mary). Mary’s sudden death and the sensational success of his first published collection of verse kept him in Scotland.” (BBC.co.uk -referring to a rift with wife Jean).

I wonder. If Mary had lived and Burns had emigrated to the West Indies, would he have found the same success as he did in Scotland? Would we still be speaking of him today? Would the world remember his name if that one piece of his life had been different? Interesting thought…

Burns’ late twenties were spent in Edinburgh, where by then he was known as The Ploughman Poet, a name which harkened back to both his upbringing and his affinity for romanticism and nature. Over the next few years, Burns continued to achieve success and admiration, with his womanizing and decadent lifestyle running parallel to his prolific working life. He lived his life in a way that was contrary to the moral standards of his day. Perhaps it was because of his lifestyle that his creativity flourished. To his core, Burns was not a conventional man. He was eccentric, independently minded, possibly stubborn, and a free spirit. You may not agree, but doesn’t it seem that many times the most eccentric in our world are the ones who produce the most memorable art and lasting legacies? Think Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, Mozart, Wagner, Picasso, Van Gogh…Michael Jackson!

The final years of Burns’ life were spent in Dumfriesshire in the south of Scotland. He continued to write, and for a time, went back to his roots (no pun intended) to try his hand at farming. The endeavor proved unavailing, however, and in 1789 he began work as an Excise Officer.

Over the next few years, Burns’ health began to steadily decline. The early years of hard, physical work, an early bout of rheumatic fever that likely weakened his heart, and his decadent lifestyle had taken their toll. On July 21, 1796 – at just thirty-seven years old -the Bard of Ayrshire died. To make a sad situation even more cheerless, on the day of his funeral, his wife Jean gave birth to their youngest son Maxwell.

So, what was it about Burns’ relatively short life that left a lasting legacy in the hearts of the Scottish people? Why is he still so popular nearly two and a half centuries after his death? I think it is partly because of his humble beginnings and the fact that he lived among the ordinary people of Scotland. His writing clearly related his understanding of and solidarity with the common man. He understood their plight. Burns’ humor, his wit, his frequent political incorrectness, and the fact that he saw into the hearts of people (particularly the poor) were – and still are, the qualities that have endeared him to generation upon generation. Robert Burns was a Scot to his core, and remains a strong part of the Scottish identity today. Whether you prefer to call him Robert, Robbie, Rabbie, the Ploughman Poet, or the Bard of Ayrshire, one thing is for certain…his name is sure to live on for generations to come.

Cheers, Rabbie.

And to you, Friends.

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Burns Night

Greetings Readers,

Today is a big day in Scotland and for those of Scots descent around the world.  For today is January 25, the birthday of Scotland’s beloved national poet, Robert Burns.

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Also known as Robbie Burns, Rabbie Burns (my personal favorite), The Ploughman Poet, and the Bard of Ayrshire, Burns is one of Scotland’s most celebrated sons.  You may know him best as the man who first penned the words to ‘Auld Lang Syne‘.  And I’m sure you have heard the poetic verse: “O my Luve’s like a red, red rose that’s newly sprung in June”.  Perhaps you are familiar with Burns’ narrative poem, ‘Tam O’ Shanter’.  Or, maybe you have a fondness for one of Rabbie’s other 713 works (possibly more?), which range in topic from death and war, anguish and greed, from religion and politics, to love and sex (and many other topics in between).  There is certainly no shortage to choose from.  *Although archived and no longer updated, I discovered a BBC page dedicated to Burns that lists 716 poems and songs.  It allows you to search for works by title, season, theme, and year written.  Well worth a look if you are at all interested in Rabbie’s poetry.

Every January 25, Robert Burns is celebrated with the annual Burns Night Supper.  I have never had the good fortune to take part, but oh how I would love to!

So, what does a Burns Supper involve? Fun, I would imagine!

In a traditional gathering, after the guests are welcomed, the evening’s festivities commence with ‘The Selkirk Grace’ (written by Burns).


The Selkirk Grace

Some hae meat and canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it,

But we hae meat and we can eat,

And sae the Lord be thankit.


This short prayer is followed by the exciting ‘piping in of the haggis’, a procession that includes the bagpiper, the chef, the haggis itself -which is carried in on a silver tray, and the individual who will deliver a rousing reading of ‘To a Haggis‘ (also by Burns).  After this ‘address to the haggis’, a ‘toast to the haggis’ is given, followed by the meal – traditionally a soup (such as cock-a-leekie), haggis, neeps and tatties, and something sweet (such as cranachan or clootie dumpling).  And, of course, there is whisky!

The meal is followed by entertainment centered around Burns’ work, 20180125_101339recognition of his accomplishments and a toast to his memory, a ‘toast to the lassies’, and a ‘reply to the toast of the lassies’ (rather cheeky, I would guess).  Finally, the evening concludes with the joining of hands as guests sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’.

Truly, doesn’t this sound like fun?

To those of you who celebrate Burns Night, I would love to hear about some of your traditions.  How do you celebrate at home?  Do you gather with family and friends?  Or do you prefer to celebrate in a more public venue?  Do you make foods other than the ones I named?  I look forward to reading your comments!

I invite you all to join me next time, when I will look deeper into the life of this man -this extraordinary literary figure- who captured a nation and the world.

Happy Burns Night!

Cheers,

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For Auld Lang Syne

Happy New Year, Friends!

Wow, I simply cannot believe 2018 is almost here.  In less than 48 hours, the first of you will celebrate the strike of midnight and the rest of us will follow as the waves of time roll across the dark, deep sea.

A new year.  A new beginning.  A fresh start.  A blank page beckoning to be written upon.  What will you write on your page this year?

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In my great love affair with Scotland, I learned something that I would like to share with you.  If I were to quiz you on the name of the song sung on New Year’s Eve the world over, you would probably tell me it’s ‘Auld Lang Syne’.  And you would be correct.  But does anyone (aside from our awesome friends-the Brits) know to whom the song is attributed?  I never really gave it much thought, but how strange that so many of us across the globe ring in the new year singing the exact same tune and yet the majority of us likely do not know where it originated or even understand what the words are all about.  It reminds me of the humorous dialogue exchange between Billy Crystal’s and Meg Ryan’s characters at the end of one of my favorite movies, ‘When Harry Met Sally’.


Harry: [about Auld Lang Syne] What does this song mean? My whole life, I don’t know what this song means. I mean, ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot’? Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we happened to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot?

Sally: Well, maybe it just means that we should remember that we forgot them or something. Anyway, it’s about old friends.

-from ‘When Harry Met Sally’, 1989


Roughly translated “for old times’ sake” or “days gone by”, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is nothing if not all about preserving old friendships, raising a glass, and looking back with nostalgia over the events of the year.  It is a song steeped in sentimentality that has the power to momentarily bind us together in remembrance, in the celebration of the moment, and in hope for the future.  Joy, kinship and comaraderie…even melancholy and regret…these are just a few of the feelings I think this song has the power to invoke.  Thus is the great power of music.

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I challenge you to replace the words ‘auld lang syne’ with ‘for old times’ sake’ when you read the lyrics (bottom of post).  It will take on a brand new meaning.

Like so many other good things that have come out of Scotland, so did this iconic tune.  It was in the year 1788 that Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, PG_1063Burns_Naysmithcropfirst submitted the words to James Johnson, a gentleman who was compiling a book of old Scottish songs called The Scots Musical Museum.  Written in the Scots language, Robert (or Rabbie, as I affectionately like to call him-sigh) was not the original composer of the song’s lyrics, but was the first to pen the words of a much older Scottish folk song that some say he took down from a conversation with an old man.  Even though Burns submitted the words to Johnson in 1788, the poem did not appear in print until shortly after his death in 1796.  Since then, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ has been translated into many languages and is sung throughout the world.  I think ol’ Rabbie would have been pleased to know that.

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Originally, the lyrics to ‘Auld Lang Syne’ were set to a different tune than that which we are all familiar.  And if you do a Google search for recordings of the song, you will find a few slightly altered versions performed by some of today’s contemporary artists.  My absolute favorite is sung by Scottish musician Mairi Campbell.  I read somewhere that her version may have actually been the original tune, but I don’t know if there is any truth in that.  Anyway, I dare you to listen to it and not be moved.

So how did a tune from Scotland find such fame throughout the world?  Its initial popularity coincided with the age of Scottish emigration in the 19th century, particularly to the United States and Canada.  With its roots firmly established in the hearts of the Scottish diaspora, the rest of us were simply to be the lucky recipients of this beautiful gift of poetry.

This weekend, every one of us will take our first steps into 2018.  Whether you go boldly or tentatively, excitedly or with reluctance, I hope you will be able to see 2018 as a clean slate that is just brimming with hope and possibility.  I also hope that now, at the stroke of midnight when you find yourself singing this old, familiar tune, that your ears and heart will hear it with a new affection and understanding-as you reflect upon the year that has passed and look ahead to new things to come.

I sincerely wish each of you a happy new year, filled with joy, peace, and friendship.

Because anyway, it’s about old friends.


‘Auld Lang Syne’:  Scots Version

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And auld lang syne?  

 

(Chorus)

For auld lang syne, my jo,

For auld lang syne,

We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.

 

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp!

And surely I’ll be mine!

And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.

 

We twa hae run about the braes

And pu’d the gowans fine;

But we’ve wander’d mony a weary foot

Sin auld lang syne.

 

We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn,

Frae mornin’ sun till dine;

But seas between us braid hae roar’d

Sin auld lang syne.

 

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!

And gie’s a hand o’ thine!

And we’ll tak a right guid willy waught,

For auld lang syne.


‘Auld Lang Syne:  English Version

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

And old lang syne? (ie. ‘for old times’ sake)

 

(Chorus)

For auld lang syne, my dear,

For auld lang syne,

We’ll take a cup of kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.

 

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!

And surely I’ll buy mine!

And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.

 

We two have run about the slopes,

And picked the daisies fine;

But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,

Since auld lang syne.

 

We two have paddled in the stream,

From morning sun till dine;

But seas between us broad have roared

Since auld lang syne.

 

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!

And give me a hand o’ thine!

And we’ll take a right good-will draught,

For auld lang syne.

 

Cheers my friends,

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*featured image courtesy of Pixabay

A Christmas Prayer, by Robert Louis Stevenson

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To old friends, new friends, and friends I have yet to meet,

I want to sincerely thank you for welcoming me into your blogging community.  It has been great fun to write for you these last few months and you have been so encouraging with all of your likes and kind comments.  I have enjoyed interacting with you and look forward to getting to know you even better through your posts over this next year.

A few weeks ago I came across this Christmas prayer.  It is widely attributed to one of Scotland’s literary sons, Robert Louis Stevenson, although I am unable to find the source in which it was originally published.  Regardless, it is beautiful and it is my personal prayer for you this blessed season.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas,

Wendy


A Christmas Prayer

By Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

 

Loving Father,

Help us remember the birth of Jesus,

that we may share in the song of the angels,

the gladness of the shepherds,

and the worship of the wise men.

 

Close the door of hate

and open the door of love all over the world.

Let kindness come with every gift

and good desires with every greeting.

Deliver us from evil by the blessing

which Christ brings,

and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

 

May the Christmas morning

make us happy to be Thy children,

and the Christmas evening bring us to our beds

with grateful thoughts,

forgiving and forgiven,

for Jesus’ sake.

 

Amen.

 

 

*photos in this post courtesy of Pixabay