Thursday, 6 November 2008

The Bible in Scots (1963)

Translated and read by Rev James L Dow

Notes from the back cover:BibleInScotsCoverSML.jpg
Up until a year or two ago the only attempts at translating the Bible into the vernacular of the Lowland Scots were literary and not conspicuously successful. The same fate could be said to have befallen the work of the Lallans poets - and for the same reason. Lowland Scots, far from being a "plastic" language, is (or was) a living, spoken language with no established place in the literature of the country. It can, of course, be read and enjoyed, but it has to be heard before it comes to life.

it is a particularly happy coincidence that one of the best writers of Lowland Scots happens to be a minister of the Church of Scotland and also happens to be a very accomplished stage and radio actor. In 1960 the Scottish Home Service of the BBC, recognising the Rev James L Dow's special qualifications for the job, commissioned him to write and read a series of short Biblical texts in Scots. They were broadcast in an early morning magazine programme and proved extremely popular.

Now, for the first time, a recording of Bible extracts in Scots has been produced commercially. The selection more or less chose itself. For instance, the Nativity, by virtue of its familiarity in English and classical simplicity as a story, was the keystone of the venture. And it seemed appropriate to precede the translations of the Gospels of St Luke and St Matthew with Isaiah's prophecy of the coming of Christ.

Mr Dow has used St Luke's report of the shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem and St Matthew's account of the journey of the three wise men. In a very striking way this version of perhaps the greatest folk tale in the world is refreshed, as it were, by being spoken in the tongue of the ordinary people of a country which has for centuries counted itself a bastion of Christendom.

Side 2 consists of the first two chapters from the Book of Proverbs with some random extracts from the same work. Then there is the Miracle of the Feeding of the Five Thousand and the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The side ends with a selection from the Psalms of David, beloved of Scottish worshippers for centuries.


Here is the entire LP, track-by-track:

1. Isaiah 40 v 1-11:

2. Luke 1 v 1-25:

3. Luke 1 v 25-55:

4. Luke 1 v 56-80:

5. Luke 2 v 1-19:

6. Matthew 2 v 1-15:

7. Proverbs 1 & 2, with selected verses from 23, 30 & 31:

8. Feeding of the Five Thousand (Mark 6 v 35-44) & The Prodigal Son (Luke 15 v 11-32):

9. Psalm 23:

10. Psalm 100:

11. Psalm 121:

12. Psalm 124:

13. Psalm 137:

[ Waverley Records Mono ZLP2008 ]