Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 58 > Page 81 - Mary E. Blatchford's Letter from Beinn Bhreagh, 1891

Page 81 - Mary E. Blatchford's Letter from Beinn Bhreagh, 1891

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1991/8/1 (144 reads)

The little church, seating three hundred, was filled, the porch was crowded, so were the steps outside, and the green beyond was nearly as full of wagons and horses tied to fences and trees. The people very civilly made way for us, and we edged our way up some rough stairs to a gallery facing the pulpit where we found standing room and where we could see all that was going on. The bread and wine were passed from pew to pew as with us, (Presbyterians), but the goblets were much larger than ours and were held with both hands. Huge loaves of bread were cut in thick slices, and the man or woman at the end of each pew took a slice and broke and passed it. The railing of the front pews was covered with a long white cloth and there was a very small square ta? ble before the minister and his elders. All was done slowly and reverently and it was strange to see how large a proportion of the crowd were men and boys--the boys, how? ever, did not seem to be communicants, and were not seated on the floor. The old customs are fast dying out, but I saw a number of old women in the old fash? ioned headdress which Mr. McC. had warned me to look for. It was a large black silk handkerchief folded bias and tied on over a cap with a very full plaited ruffle of white tarleton. One woman's handkerchief was of white silk. After the Sacrament came the singing, which how shall I describe, for it was like noth? ing I ever heard before. They sang a Psalm with ever so many verses, the precentor leading off the first few words of each verse alone and the rest joining in all on the same note--there was no singing in parts. As for the tune, if tune it could be called, it was more like the music of a bagpipe with all the harshness taken out. The voices rose and fell in an almost un? earthly sweetness and pathos, swelling and dying away and rising again until the tears came to my eyes and my blood thrilled in my veins. No music ever affected me as that did, and it was not like voices and there WELLS & PUMPS 'TD. yjWaCe' - /t's//atu,'a(lff. Better " • Water Wells • Pumps • Test Holes • Water Conditioners Serving Cape Breton 5642145 T M (Licence No. 264) were not separate notes, but the sound swept and wailed and died away. Gardiner felt about it as I did, and it was he who compared it to the bagpipe. I could have stood there and listened for hours and hours, like "the monk Felix," though he breathed heavenly air, while ours was stuf? fy beyond description. Gardiner stayed out? side on the grass and only came in while the singing was going forward. I heard some preaching and praying and was fascinated with the musical richness of the unpro? nounceable gutturals and wondered how they could do it, and when done how they could understand it. One word seemed to be forev? er to the fore, "Haggis," and I felt so fa? miliar with it that I was conscious of a certain uplifting of the soul whenever it came in. Was it Lord, or Heaven, or Faith, or Hope, or Love? I meant to ask. After service I had a talk with the washer- lady, Mrs. Frazer, and she said the minis? ter was a "beautiful man," by which I pre? sume she meant his soul, unless, indeed, the Gaelic standard of beauty is unique. We drove home in the procession of wagons that filed along the road, one and another turning aside through gates and bars and winding up grassy cart roads leading to white-washed cottages scattered among the hills. We lost them all before we turned into our own gate. After dinner, the wind having died away, Gardiner paddled me across to attend the prayer-meeting where we had some more singing and some more--a lot more--"Haggis" diet. I wondered how WIN A FREE WELL CALL FOR DETAILS Canada's Heritage Treasures on Cape Breton Island Canada is world renowned for its s>'stem of national parks and national historic sites. And for good reason. Our parks and sites offer visitors an opporai- nity to discover Canada's unique natural and cultural heritage. And nowhere is this rich diversity if nature and history more evident than on Cape Breton Island. Here, our parks and sites represent some of the finest examples of the Canadian Parks Service s commitment to heritage conservation and restoration, environmen? tal protection and historical authenticity Watth for the Beaver symbol on hi'way signs and explore the protected wilderness of Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Discover the genias of Alexander Graham Bell. See history come to life at the Fortress of Lx)uisbouig. Marvel at the wizardry of Guglielmo Maiconi. O stroll the grassy shores of St Peter's Canal. En route experience the history of Grassy Island. For more information, please call: 902-295-2069. National Parks and National Historic Sites on Gape Breton Island. Unforgettable.' ?? I Canada
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