The Highlands’ famous Watercolour Music studios in Lochaber have released a reworking of one of the Celtic world’s favourite carols this week as a special download single.
Proceeds from the sale of the single will go to global humanitarian organisation, Mercy Corps, which has its European headquarters in Edinburgh. Gaelic singer and broadcaster Mary Ann Kennedy, who directs the music for this year’s Christmas carol service on BBC ALBA, is joined on the recording by award-winning Gaelic singer and composer Rachel Walker, for a special translation of folk star John Renbourn’s version of the Wexford Carol.
Kenna Campbell, Gaelic song doyenne, has translated John’s beautiful alternative words to the carol as a remembrance of him. John, a member of folk-rock legends Pentangle, died earlier this year and was a regular visitor to the Watercolour Music studios.
When Mary Ann and Rachel first performed the song, they said the effect on people was so instantaneous that they had to get into the studio straightaway to record the music. “John’s words are so much in tune with the Celtic world that we had always thought a Gaelic version would work well. We like to think John would have enjoyed Kenna’s gentle reworking of his poetry.”
Rachel Walker, Gaelic Singer of the Year 2014 and former student of Kenna’s, said: “Kenna has always been so generous with her gift for creating beautiful new Gaelic songs of her translations. We wanted the recording to serve a purpose as well, so we’ve teamed up with Mercy Corps, who will receive half the proceeds from all sales of ‘Laoidh Loch Gàrmain’.”
Nick Turner, co-director of the Watercolour studios said: “John’s beautiful words in his Wexford Carol have always heralded Christmas in our home, but they are also very human, very aware of darkness as well as light in the world. The funds raised for the Mercy Corps will help them in their vital work in the most desperate of situations around the world.”
Fifty per cent of all proceeds of the song will go towards the work of Mercy Corps who work in more than 40 countries around the world. Mercy Corps are one of the largest organisations working inside Syria responding to the crisis there, and have expanded their work to help with the refugee crisis in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Greece and the Balkans.
The download-only single went on release on Monday this week and is available directly from www.watercolourmusic.co.uk on their Shop/New Releases page and also through Amazon.
Laoidh Loch Gàrmain (The Wexford Carol)
Faclan ùra le/original words by John Renbourn
Eadar-theangachadh gu Gàidhlig na h-Alba le Ceana Chaimbeul
Translated to Scottish Gaelic by Kenna Campbell
Ba bà, ba bà, mo leanabh maoth, ro-aithghearr còmhlaichidh tu an saogh’l,
Ro-aithghearr fàsaidh tu gu aois, ’s bidh mis’ am aonar an seo gun thu.
Gun gluais thu aotrom thar nan stuadh, do chùrs’ bidh ri soills’ reul na h-àirde tuath,
Ach tacan beag bidh thu rim thaobh, ba bà, ba bà, mo leanabh maoth.
Gun ruith thu aotrom thar nan cluan, a’ cluich le dòbhrain san t-sruthan fhuar,
Gun fhois gun tàmh, thu as an dèidh, a’ snàmh le bradain, ’s a’ sealg an fhèidh;
Far iteig glacaidh tu na h-eòin, air earball na gaoith-deas anns na neòil;
Do dhachaidh anns gach beinn is sliabh, fuil thu dem fhuil-sa, m’ anam ’s mo chiall.
A’ ghealach cromaidh cùl nan craobh, O, sil do dheòir a mhaighdinn chiùin,
Oir eirigh grian os cionn na crois’, a shiabadh sùilean ’s a’ chaoidh nad chois.
An t-àm as duirche den oidhche chiar, feumaidh e geilleadh don Ear ’s don ghrian,
’S don chumhachd shlànaicheas gach nì, anam dem m’ anam, crìdhe dem chrìdh’.
Nuair ruigeas tu ceann thall do chuairt, aoibhneas dem aoibhneas, mo mhacan suairc’,
Fon iarmailt seasaidh tu leat fhèin, feòil thu dem fheòil-sa, is crè dem chrè.
Oir ’s eiginn teàrnadh gu tràigh dhubh chiar, a ghabhail an aisig don àird an iar
Ach, fhathast tha thu ri mo chliabh, ba bà mo leanaban, ba bà mo chiall.
Lullay, lullay, my tiny child, too soon you’ll know the world so wild,
Yes, all too soon you will be grown, and I’ll bide here, alone, alone;
The rushing bellows you shall ride, and the light of the North Star will be your guide,
But yet a while I’ll have you stay, lullay my tiny child, lullay.
For you shall run in meadows green and sport with otters all in the stream,
And you shall chase the dappled deer, and swim with salmon in the waters clear;
To pluck the small birds from the sky, and the tail of the south wind you shall fly,
And take the high hills for your home, blood of my blood, bone of my bone.
The moon must sleep beyond the tree, so weep, sweet maid of Galilee,
The sun must rise before the cross to dry your tears and share your loss;
The darkest hour of the starless night must bow to the power of the eastern light
That heals the earth and makes us whole, heart of my heart, soul of my soul.
And when at last your course is run, joy of my joy, my little son
Beneath the sky you’ll stand alone, flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone.
Yes, you shall stand on the coal-black sands to cross o’er the waters of the Western
lands, But now I have you at my breast, lullay my sweet one, gently rest.
© 2015 Text and translation copyright controlled Pentangle Ltd./Kenna Campbell/Watercolour Music Ltd.