Traditional improvised songform from the Isle of Lewis cut to vinyl for Salm Vol 1
UK label Arc Light Editions return with a collection of gaelic psalm singing from the Hebrides. Run by The Wire contributor Jennifer Lucy Allan and Multiverse’s James Ginzburg, the imprint’s fourth release Salm Vol 1 features a performance of an improvised song tradition still practised on the Hebrides Isle of Lewis. Captured over two evenings at the Back Free Church in October 2003, the recordings were originally released on CD and cassette by Bethesda Care Home and Hospice. Now Arc Light Editions are releasing it as a vinyl LP for the first time.
The practice of psalm singing, where a precentor introduces a line of a psalm and the congregation respond by singing it, is a form of call and response known as lining out or hymn lining, and was introduced to some areas of America in the 18th century by Presbyterian immigrants.
Arc Light Editions worked with the music’s original producer Calum Martin and Doctor Robert Macdonald from Bethesda Hospice, and a portion of the profits will go to the latter. Salm: Gaelic Psalms From The Hebrides Of Scotland Vol 1 is out now.
Back in November 2016, Noel Meek surveyed the sights and sounds of gaelic psalm singing as part of a pilgrimage from New Zealand back to the country of his grandparents. You can read it via The Wire Portal.