Psalm Enchanted Afternoon in Store

Article excerpt

IAM a great believer in combinations, and I'm not talking about that particular style of underwear now so old-fashioned that it forms part of many a historical museum exhibit.

What I mean is the coming together of different sorts of music or art with the result of creating something new in the process, or at least shedding light on shared aspects of our various cultures.

The Great Book of Gaelic exhibition has been running at the Ulster Museum since September 23. It's the work of more than 200 poets, artists and calligraphers which forms a visual anthology exploring aspects of Gaelic language and art and the connections between them. It's a multi-layered body of work which will eventually be bound in a huge book.

The exhibit has also included a programme of lectures, demonstrations, readings and music in the museum and elsewhere. And, of course, the cultures of Scotland and Ireland are about as good a combination as you can get.

One of the most unusual musical events can be enjoyed this Saturday from 3pm in the room where the exhibit is hung. A group of Gaelic psalm singers from the Hebrides will perform in Gallery 4, an airy, resonant space which should make for an amazing and evocative sound.

Gaelic psalm singing originated in the 1800s in the Highlands and islands of Scotland as a way for people who couldn't read music or words to be able to sing the psalms as part of worship in the Free Church of Scotland.

Known as The Wee Frees, this sect became the strongest Presbyterian church in the Highlands. Originally in Scots Gaelic, this form of psalm singing still exists today, especially on the Island of Lewis.

The practice died out in England because of church reforms, but geography and - one suspects - a strong helping of native tenacity have conspired to keep the tradition alive in remote areas of Scotland. …