Taladh Chriosda

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Tàladh Chrìosda (Christ's lullaby) is the popular name for the Scottish Gaelic Christmas carol Tàladh ar Slànaigheir (the Lullaby of our Saviour). It is traditionally sung at Midnight Mass in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. The 29 verses of the hymn date from the 19th century and are intended to represent a lullaby for the Christ Child by the Blessed Virgin.

The song was popularised among English speakers in the early 20th century by Marjory Kennedy-Fraser under the title The Christ-Child's Lullaby.

Lyricist[edit]

The words are believed to have been written by Fr. Ranald Rankin, a Roman Catholic priest from Fort William. The hymn was originally titled Tàladh ar Slànuighear (the Lullaby of our Saviour) and sung to a tune called Cumha Mhic Àrois (the Lament for Mac Àrois).

The lyric appears as item 10 in Glasgow University Library's Bàrd na Ceapaich manuscript where it is entitled Taladh ar Slanuighir (Cuimhneachan do Chloinn Mhuideart) which can be translated as Our Saviour's Lullaby (Memento to the Children of Moidart). The same manuscript again gives the same title for the tune as Cumha Mhic Arois (lament for Mac Àrois) and supplies the same information regarding the author of the lyric and, presumably, date of publication – An t-Urramach Raonall Mac Raing. An t-8mh Mios, 1855 (Fr. Ronald Rankin, August 1855).

Fr. Rankin was documented by the succeeding parish priest, Fr. Hugh Chisholm, as serving in the parish of Moidart between 1838 and 25 July 1855. It is therefore possible that the hymn was composed before the latter date. He sailed from Scotland on the James Baines to Australia and, in 1857, he was made parish priest of St Michael's Little River, near Geelong, Victoria. He died there in 1863.

In his Moidart: Among the Clanranalds, Fr. Charles Macdonald writes that Father Rankin was "an outspoken advocate in behalf of emigration." Living in the aftermath of the Highland Clearances and the Great Highland Famine, Fr. Rankin believed that leaving Scotland was the only way for his parishioners to escape the dire poverty in which they lived. He therefore urged them to depart for Australia in an assisted emigration scheme and promised that he would soon follow.[1]

Donald MacLean's Typographia Scoto-Gadelica (1915) p329 documents the first publication of the hymn as follows.

RANKIN (Rev. RONALD, R.C), THE SAVIOUR'S LULLABY. 1855. "Taladh Ar Slanuighear. Air Fonn 'Cumha Mhic Arois'" and at the end "Cuimhneachan do Chloinn Mhuideart bho Raonall Mac-Raing. An T-8mh Mios. 1855."' 12mo. 4 pp. These copies were circulated among the Parishioners on the emigration of the Author to Australia.

Tune[edit]

"Mac Fir Àrois" (the son of the Man of Aros) – i.e., an heir of Aros in the isle of Mull in Scotland – is traditionally held to have drowned in Loch Friosa (Loch Frisa) in Mull. The Rev. John Gregorson Campbell, in his Superstitions of the Highlands of Scotland, pp205–206, states the following.

The heir of Aros, a young man of great personal activity, and, it is said, of dissolute manners, having an opinion of himself that there was no horse he could not ride, was taken by a Water-horse into Loch Frisa, a small lake about a mile in length in the north-west of Mull and devoured. This occurred between his espousal and marriage, and the Lament composed by his intended bride is still and deservedly a popular song in Mull. There seems to be this much truth in the story, that the young man was dragged into Loch Frisa by a mare which he was attempting to subdue and drowned. It would appear from the song that his body was recovered.

However, 'Mhic Àrois' appears to be a garbling of a term like 'mac Fir Àrasaig' (son of the Man of Arisaig). The medieval title 'Fear Àrasaig (Man of Arisaig) belonged to the Mackintosh clan. In p168 of An Gaidheal Vol II (1873), Donald C MacPherson wrote the words for what he titled 'Cumha Mhic a Arois. No Cumha Mhic-an-Tòisich.' (the Lament for the Son of a-Arois. Or the Lament for Mackintosh.) The lyric he provides is a variant of the lyric for Cumha Mhic an Tòisich but contains a line 'Dheagh mhic a Arois' (Good son of a-Arois).

The tune of Tàladh ar Slànaigheir bears similarities to the group of songs related to the pipe lament Cumha Mhic an Tòisich (Mackintosh's Lament), which has another alternative title of Cumha Mhic Rìgh Aro (Lament for the Son of the King of Aro). However, these similarities are only in general melodic structure and poetic metre, but not in musical mode or scale. It is therefore possible that the tune used in the Outer Hebrides for Tàladh ar Slànaigheir is a substitute related melody.

In the article The Sources of the Gaelic Hymnal 1893 in The Innes Review Vol. VII (1956) at p108, John Lorne Campbell states the following concerning the melody of Tàladh ar Slànaigheir, which has survived only in the Outer Hebrides.

The tune is said to be "Cumha Mhic Arois" in all these early printed sources, but the hymn is now sung to an air which appears to be derived from the chorus of an old waulking song.

In p155 of Folksongs and Folklore of South Uist (1986), the waulking song concerned is identified by Margaret Fay Shaw as An cuala sibh mar dh'éirich dhòmhs' . Recordings exist of two versions of the tune for this.

The variants of the tune of Tàladh ar Slànaigheir differ in mode from each other in a similar fashion to variants of the song Chaidh mo Dhunnchadh dhan Bheinn (my Duncan went to the hill). In the case of both songs, the major third of the scale is weakened in one melodic variant and strengthened in another.

Lyrics[edit]

Scottish Gaelic[edit]

The following text is the version published by the chief of the clan Chisholm, Colin Chisholm (1806–1896), in the Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness Vol XV (1888–89), pp239–242.

p239

TALADH AR SLANUIGHIR
Air fonn – Cumha Mhic Arois
Aleluiah, Aleluiah, Aleluiah, Aleluiah.
Mo ghaol, mo ghradh, a's m' fheudail thu,
M' ion'ntas ur a's n' eibhneas thu,
Mo mhacan aluinn ceutach thu,
Cha 'n fhiu mi fein bhi 'd dhail.
Aleluiah, &c.
Ge 'mòr an t-aobhar cliu dhomh e,
'S mòr an t-aobhar curaim e,
'S rnòr an t-aobhar umhlachd e,
Righ nan dùl 'bhi 'm laimh.
Ge d' is leanamh diblidh thu,
Cinnteach 's Righ nan Righrean thu,
'S tu 'n t-oighre dligheach, firinneach
Air Rioghachd Dhé nan gràs.
Ge d' is Righ na glorach thu
Dhiult iad an tigh-osda dhuit,
Ach chualas ainglean solasach
'Toirt gloir do'n Tì is àird.
Bu mhòr solas agus ioghnadh
Buachaillean bochda nan caorach,
'Nuair chual iad na h-ainglean a' glaodhaich,
"Thainig Slanui'ear thun an t-saoghail."
B' e sin an ceol, 's an naigheachd aghmhor
'Sheinn na h-ainglean anns na h-ardaibh,
Ag innseadh gu'n d' rugadh Slanui'ear
Am Betlehem, am baile Dhaibhidh.

p240

B' e sin sgeula binn nam beannachd,
Mu'n aoidh a rinn tearnadh gu talamh,
Cha'n ioghnadh mi 'bhi muirneach, geanail.
Is gile na ghrian mo leanamh.
Dh' fhoillsich reulta dha na righrean,
Lean iad i mar iuil gu dileas,
Fhuair iad 'n am achlais fhein thu,
Is rinn iad umhlachd dhuit gu lar.
Thairg iad or dhuit, mirr a's tuis,
Thug iad aoradh dhuit a's cliu,
B' e turas an aigh do 'n triuir,
'Thainig a shealltuinn mo ruin.
'O na dh' innis aingeal Dé dhuinn
Gu'n robh 'n fhoill an cridhe Heroid,
Dh' fhalbh sinne leat do'n Eiphit
G' a sheachnadh mu'n deanta beud ort.
O! 'Heroid a chridhe chruaidh,
Cha choisinn t'imleachd [recte: t'innleachd] dhuit buaidh,
'S lionar mathair dh'fhag thu truagh,
'S tu dian an toir air bàs mo luaidh.
'S fhada, fhada, bho ludea,
Tearuinte bho d' chlaidheamh geur e,
'Measg nam mac cha d'fhuair thu fein e,
'S fallain, slan thu, 's fath dhomh eibhneas.
Dh' aindeoin do mhi-rinn [recte: mì-rùn] a 's t'fharmaid,
Bidh mo mhac-sa cliuiteach, ainmeil,
Cha chuir e uigh an òr n'an airgiod,
A rioghachd cha rioghachd thalmhaidh.
Gur galach, brònach, tùrsach iad
An drast ann an Ierusalem,
A' caoidh nam macan ùra sin,
'S b' e 'n diubhail 'n cur gu bas.
Tha Rachel an diugh fo bhròn,
A' caoidh a paisdean aluinn, òg,
'S frasach air a gruaidh na deoir
Bho nach 'eil iad aice beo.

p241

Tha mi 'g altrum Righ na mòrachd,
'S mise mathair Dhe na gloire –
Nach buidhe, nach sona dhomhsa,
Tha mo chridhe làn do sholas.
Thainig, thainig am Messiah,
Fhuair na faidhean uile 'n guidhe,
'S fhada bho 'n b' aill leo thu thighinn,
'S aluinn thu air mo ruighe.
A ghnothach gu talamh cha b' fhaoin e,
Cheannach sabhaladh chloinn daoine,
'S e 'm Fear-reite 's am Fear-saoraidh,
Is e 'n Slanui'ear gradhach caomh e.
Ciamar a dh' eirich dhomhsa
'Measg an t-sluaigh a bhi cho sonruicht'?
'S e toil a's cumhachd na gloire
Mac bhi agam ge d' is oigh mi.
'S mise fhuair an ulaidh phrìseil,
Uiseil, uasal, luachmhor, fhinealt,
'N diugh cha dual dhomh bhi fo mhighean,
'S coltach ri bruadar an fhirinn.
Cha tuig ainglean naomh no daoine
Gu la deireannach an t-saoghail
Meud do throcair a's do ghaoil-sa,
Tighinn a ghabhail coluinn daonnta.
Bheir mi moladh, bheir mi aoradh,
Bheir mi cliu dhuit, bheir mi gaol dhuit,
Tha thu agam air mo ghairdean,
'S mi tha sona thar chloinn daoine.
Mo ghaol an t-suil a sheallas tlà,
Mo ghaol an cridh 'tha liont 'le gràdh,
Ged is leanamh thu gun chàil
'S lionmhor buaidh tha ort a' fàs.
M' ulaidh, m' aighear, a's mo luaidh thu,
Rùn, a's gaol, a's gràdh an t-sluaigh thu;
'S tus' an Tì a bheir dhoibh fuasgladh
Bho chuibhreach an namhaid uaibhrich.

p242

'S tu Righ nan righ, 's tu naomh nan naomh,
Dia am Mac thu 's siorruidh t'aois;
'S tu mo Dhia 's mo leanamh gaoil,
'S tu àrd cheann-feadhna 'chinne-daonn'.
'S tusa grian gheal an dòchais,
Chuireas dorchadas air fògairt ;
Bheir thu clann-daoin' bho staid bhrònaich
Gu naomhachd, soilleireachd, a's eòlas.
Thigeadh na sloigh chur ort failte –
Dheanadh umhlachd dhuit mar Shlanui'ear,
Bidh solas mòr am measg siol Adhamh –
Thainig am Fear-saoraidh, thainig!
Thig a pheacaich, na biodh sgàth ort,
Gheibh thu na dh' iarras tu 'ghrasan;
Ge d' bhiodh do chiontan dearg mar sgàrlaid
Bidh t'anam geal mar shneachd nan àrd-bheann.
Hosanah do Mhac Dhaibhidh,
Mo Righ, mo Thighearna, 's mo Shlanui'ear,
'S mòr mo sholas bhi ga d' thaladh,
'S beannaichte am measg nam mnai mi.

Literal English translation[edit]

p 239

my love, my love and my treasure are You
my treasure and my joy are You
my lovely, becoming son are You
I'm not worthy of being near You
though it's a reason for praise to me
it's a great reason for care
it's a great reason for homage
the King of the Elements being in my arms
though You're a feeble baby
for sure, the King of Kings are You
You're the rightful, true heir
of the Kingdom of God of the graces
though the King of Glory are You
they refused the inn to You
but joyful angels were heard
giving glory to the Highest One
great was the joy and wonder
of the poor shepherds of the sheep
when they heard the angels crying out
"a Saviour has come to the world"
that was the music and the joyous news
that the angels sang in the heights
telling that a Saviour was born
in Bethlehem, in the town of David

p 240

that was the sweet tale of the blessings
about the guest that did descend from heaven
it's no surprise that I'm light and cheerful
fairer/whiter than the sun is my baby
a star manifested for the kings
they followed her like a guide faithfully
they found You in my clasp
and they made obeisance to You [down] to the floor
they offered gold to You, myrrh and incense
they gave adoration to You and praise
that was the journey of joy for the three men
who came to see my dearest
since the angel of God told us
that deceit was in the heart of Herod
we left with You for Egypt
evading him before harm was done to You
O Herod, o hard heart / O Herod of the hard heart
your contrivance will not gain you victory
many the mothers that you left wretched
when you were vehement in pursuit of the death of my dear one
far, far from Judea
safe from your sharp sword is He
among the sons you didn't find Him
You are healthy, whole, and a cause of rejoicing to me
despite your ill-will and your envy
my Son will be renowned, famous
He won't show interest in gold or in silver
His Kingdom tis not an earthly kingdom
wailing, sorrowful, weary are they
now in Jerusalem
lamenting those new sons
their putting to death was a tragedy indeed
Rachel today is sorrowful
lamenting her lovely young child
streaming on her cheek are the tears
since she doesn't have them alive

p 241

I'm rearing the King of Majesty
I'm the mother of the God of Glory
how fortunate, how happy for me
my heart is full of joy
the Messiah has come, has come
all the prophets have got their wish
they've long desired for You to come
You're lovely on my forearm
His business on earth, it isn't futile
to buy the salvation of the children of men
He's the Reconciler and the Redeemer
He is the loving gentle Saviour
how has it happened that I
among the people am so special
it's the will and power of Glory
to have a son though I be a virgin
tis I who have found the priceless treasure
worthy, noble, valuable and fine
today I'm not disposed to be discontent
tis like a dream the truth
neither holy angels nor men will understand
till the last day of the world
the extent of Your mercy and Your love
coming to take a human body
I give you praise, I give you adoration
I give you praise, I give you love
I have you in my arms
tis I who am happy over the children of men
my love the eye that looks mild
my love the heart that is filled with love
though You be a baby without a strong constitution
many are the virtues which on You grow
my treasure, my joy and my dearest are You
my darling and love and love of the people are You
You're the One who brings them liberation
from the bond of the haughty Enemy

p 242

You're the King of Kings, You're the Holy One of the Holy Ones
God the Son are You, eternal is Your age
You're my God and my beloved baby
You're the high chief of the children of men
You're the fair/white sun of hope
who banishes darkness
You bring the children of men from a sorry state
to holiness, illumination and knowledge
the peoples would come to welcome You
they would pay homage to You as Saviour
there will be great joy among the seed of Adam
the Redeemer has come, has come
come, O sinner, do not fear
you'll get what you want of graces
though your faults be red like scarlet
your soul will be white like the snow of the high hills
hosanna to the Son of David
my King, my Lord and my Saviour
great is my joy to be lulling You
blessed among the women am I

References[edit]

  1. ^ Macdonald (2011), Moidart: Among the Clanranalds, Birlinn Limited. Page 219.

Video footage[edit]

External links[edit]