Saturday, 13 October 2018

Mass readings in Scots: Twenty-eighth Sunday of the Year (Year B)

Second reading
Hebrews 4: 12-13

For the word of God is quick, and spedy in wurking, and mare abile to perse than ony ii egget suerde, and strekis to the departing of the saule and of the spirit, and of the iunctouris and merchis, and rof thouchtis, and intentis of hartis. And na creature is vnuisibile in the sicht of God. For althingis ar nakit and opin to his een, to quham a word to vs.

[From The New Testament in Scots Murdoch Nisbet [c.1520] (1903) vol 2 here]

Gospel reading
Mark 10: 17-30

Ande quhen Jesus was gaan out in the way, a man rann before, and knelit before him, and prayt him, and said, "Gude maister, quhat sal I do that I resaue euirlasting lif?" And Jesus said to him, "Quhat sais thou that I am gude? thar is na man gude bot God himself. Thou knawis the comandmentis, do thou na adultrie, sla nocht, steil nocht, say nocht fals witnessing, do na fraude, honour thi fadere and moder. And he ansuerd and said to him, "Maistire, I haue kepit al thir thingis fra my youthe." And Jesus beheld him, and luvit him, and said to him, "Aa thing failyeis to thee: ga thou, and sell al thingis that thou has, and gefe to pure men, and thou sail haue tresoure in heuen: and cum, follou thou me." And he was full soroufull in the word, and past away murnyng: for he had mony possessiounns.

Jesus beheld about, and said to his discipilis, "How hardlie thai that haue richessis sal entire into the kingdom of God." And the discipilis war astonaisit in his wordis. And Jesus ansuerd, and said to thame, "Ye litil childire, how hard is it for men that traistis in richessis to entire [in]to the kingdom of God! It is lichtare a camele to [pas] throu an needlis ee than a riche man to entire into the kingdom of God." And thai wonndrit maire, and said amang thameself, "Quha may be savet?" And Jesus beheld thame, and said, "Anentis men it is impossibile, bot nocht anentis God: for all thingis ar possibile anentis God."

Ande Petir began to say to him, "Lo, we haue left al thingis, and has followit thee." Jesus ansuerde and saide, "Trewly I say to you, thare is na man that leifis hous, or brethire, or sisteris, or fadere and modere, or bairnis, ore feeldis, fore me, and fore the Gospell, quhilk sal nocht tak a hundreth fald sa mekile now in this tyme, housis, and brethir, and sisteris, and faderis, and moderis, and bairnis, and feeldis, with persecutiouns; and in the warld to cummyng euirlasting lif."

[From The New Testament in Scots Murdoch Nisbet [c.1520] (1901) vol 1 here]

Friday, 12 October 2018

Medieval Scottish approaches to King Arthur

                                       Queen Guinevere's (Vanora's) burial mound in Meigle

Following on from earlier posts (here and here) on Arthur and Scotland...
From the fourteenth century onwards, the Merlin of Arthuriana began to appear as a character in Scottish pseudo-histories...They usually depicted Arthur in his familiar guise as a mightly king, with Merlin cast as a prophet and sorcerer at the royal court. Both characters were often treated unfavourably, chiefly because of the political implications of Merlin's prophecies. In Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae Merlin prophesied that Arthur would one day return to regain his authority over the whole of Britain. To many Scots in the Middle Ages, this was a profoundly unsettling prospect. They did not welcome the idea of being conquered -or reconquered- by an ambitious southern king, whether legendary or not. Moreover, HRB had not only shown Arthur as conquering Scotland but had also depicted his treacherous nephew Modred [sic] as a Scottish king. This, too, made Arthur seem like an enemy of the Scots. His negative image north of the Border was strengthened by the attitudes of contemporary English writers, many of whom saw Arthur as a model for their own kings. Arthur's supposed domination of Britain provided a template for English territorial ambitions in the 1300s and 1400s...Scottish writers responded by promoting Modred, not Arthur, as the legitimate overlord of ancient Britain...
This type of ill-feeling towards Arthur and Merlin was a characteristic of Scottish historical writing in the late medieval period and continued through the arguments over political union during the sixteenth century. At its heart was a broader opposition to the perceived 'Englishness' of Arthur and to the idea of a single, pan-British kingdom ruled by a southern monarch.

[From ch. 8, Scotland's Merlin: A Medieval Legend and its Dark Age Origins. Tim Clarkson, 2016. Review here.]

The discussion continues with particular reference to the treatment of Merlin in The Complaynt of Scotland.

I suppose the above passage reinforces for me the sense that many narratives which purport to tell 'our' national story don't adequately reflect deep differences in cultural history between Scotland and England, let alone the other parts of the UK. It's very easy to pick holes in the crasser Braveheart narratives of Nationalism. But Unionism faces the problem that, firstly, due to the appalling state of historical education in Scotland, probably the only thing that most Scottish children do know historically is that England kept invading Scotland; and, secondly, far too many narratives (of which Roberts' programme is an example) are provokingly blind to those deeper patterns of difference which any successful modern Unionism will have to negotiate rather than simply dismiss. 

Walter Scott provides a striking contrast here. His narratives are soaked in the detail of Scottish history and even antipathy towards England, but they also sublate those antagonisms, in part through the exercise of nostalgia and in part through the myth of enlightenment, into an acceptance of the Union. I see nothing of comparable subtlety occuring at the moment in Unionism, the arguments for which seem predominantly based on economic interest. My guess is that such a solely economic basis is inadequate for asabiyyah, and that consquently Unionism will ultimately prove increasingly unpersuasive. That would be a pity, not only for those who support the Union, but also for those Nationalists who, absent a worthy intellectual and cultural opponent, will be stuck with superficial, complacent and ultimately poisonous narratives of Utopian progress and being a lot nicer than the Southron.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Mass readings in Scots: Twenty-seventh Sunday of the Year (Year B)

Gospel reading
Mark 10: 2-16

And the Pharisees cam nar till him, and they wad ken, “Is it lawfu’ for a man to pit awa a wife?” tempin him. And answerin them, quo’ he, “What dis Moses commaun?” And they said, “Moses allooed a writin o’ divorce, and to put her awa.” But Jesus answer’t, “Anent the hardness o’ yere hearts, he wrate ye this commaun. But frae the first o’ the creation, God formed them male and female. And fore-anent this sal a man lea' his faither and his mither, and cling till his wife: and they twa sal be ae flesh: sae are they nae mair twa, but ae flesh. Whasae, than, God has joined thegither let-na man pit sindry!” And whan they war within again, the disciples speir’t at him anent it. And he says to them, “Whasae pits awa his wife, and take anither, commits adultery against his wife. And gin a woman divorces her husband, and taks anither, she commits adultery.”

And they war bringin till him bairns, that he soud touch them; but the disciples challenged them that brocht them. But when Jesus saw it, he was unco displeased, and said to them, “Lat the wee anes come to me: hinner-them-na: for o’ siccan anes is the kingdom o’ God! Truly say I t’ye, whasae taks-na till him the kingdom o’ God as a wee bairn, he’se in naegate comin in!” And he clippit them up in his airms, and socht blessings on them, and pat his hauns on them.

[From The New Testament in Braid Scots William Wye Smith (1904) here]