Unknown Artist - Salm: Gaelic Psalms From The Hebrides Of Scotland Volume Two (Arc Light Editions)

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Unknown Artist - Salm: Gaelic Psalms From The Hebrides Of Scotland Volume Two (Arc Light Editions)

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More spirituals from the edge of the world

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Following a sold out run of Salm Vol.1 (released January 2018) Arc Light Editions closes the year with a second volume of Gaelic psalm singing. The recordings documented here are from the same psalm singing sessions as the first, and both together represent a complete collection.

This is music that is transcendent and together, about the individual and the earth, movingly spiritual with or without belief. The sound comes in great waves, swells of sound that break and roll around the space. The texture relies on the individuals: this is group singing where the individual is preserved, elevated, but together.

The recordings of Gaelic Psalm singing presented in the release are among the best ever captured. They document a living tradition, a form of religious singing from the Hebrides in Scotland, which is still practiced in Lewis. In Gaelic psalm singing, a precentor leads, and from here voices follow, moving together in great swells like the murmurations of birds.

These recordings of Gaelic Psalm singing were originally made over two evenings in the Back Free Church on the Isle of Lewis in October 2003. The singing was spontaneous and totally unrehearsed. The recordings are now presented on vinyl for the first time by Arc Light Editions.

A precentor leads off with the first lines of a psalm, and the congregation follows, some faster than others, and each one remains discernible. In his notes to the original release, Calum Martin writes that the form, called precenting (where one person puts out the line and the congregation responds) while not exclusive to Gaelic free church traditions, is in Lewis particularly influenced by the pibroch style of free ornamentation. It’s through this, he says, that the distinctive emotional swell of sound emerges. The sound relies on the congregation’s individual responses to the melody and the individual precentor’s leading. The musical term is free heterophony.

Arc Light Editions has worked directly with DR Macdonald at the Bethesda Hospice and Calum Martin on this release, and we thank them for their time. A portion of the profits from this release go directly to Bethesda Hospice, in accordance with the original release.

Artwork Single vinyl in kraftliner sleeves printed in white litho. Artwork by Jennifer Lucy Allan, and photography by James Ginzburg.



1. Psalm 69: 35-36 - Torwood: Finlay MacDonald

2. Psalm 42: 1-2 - Glencairn: Torquil MacLeod

3. Psalm 43: 3-4 - Free Church: D R MacDonald

4. Psalm 46: Verse 1-2 - Stroudwater: Rev R F Morrison

5. Psalm 107: 28-30 - Kilmarnock: John MacMillan

6. Psalm 121: 1-3 - French: Murdo MacLeod

7. Psalm 118: 15-16 - Coleshill: D A Matheson


8. Psalm 62: 6-7 - St Marys: Rev K M Ferguson

9. Psalm 86: 15-16 - Evan: Rev James MacDonald

10. Psalm 122: 1-4 - St Paul: Rev Dr I D Campbell

11. Psalm 40: 1-3 - Ballerma: Murdo MacIver

12. Psalm 103: 13-14 - Morven: Calum Martin

13. Psalm 132: 14-16 - Bedford: Rev Calum MacLeod

14. Psalm 122: 7- 9 - New Cambridge: Rev C J MacLeod

This release is in collaboration with and licensed through Bethesda Hospice on Lewis. Thanks to Calum Martin and DR Macdonald.


Additional Information

Additional Information

Artist Unknown Artist
Label Arc Light Editions
Music Format General Vinyl
Music Format Specific 12"
Genre Folk
Release Date 7 Dec 2018
Track 1 Position A1
Track 1 Title Psalm 69 - 35-36 Torwood - Finlay MacDonald
Track 1 Preview URL https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/usolnaudiopreviews/ALE009/A1.+Psalm+69+-+35-36+Torwood+-+Finlay+MacDonald.mp3
Track 2 Position A2
Track 2 Title Psalm 42 - 1-2 Glencairn - Torquil MacLeod
Track 2 Preview URL https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/usolnaudiopreviews/ALE009/A2.+Psalm+42+-+1-2+Glencairn+-+Torquil+MacLeod.mp3
Track 3 Position A3
Track 3 Title Psalm 43 - 3-4 Free Church - D R MacDonald
Track 3 Preview URL https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/usolnaudiopreviews/ALE009/A3.+Psalm+43+-+3-4+Free+Church+-+D+R+MacDonald.mp3
Track 4 Position A4
Track 4 Title Psalm 46 - Verse 1-2 Stroudwater - Rev R F Morrison
Track 4 Preview URL https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/usolnaudiopreviews/ALE009/A4.+Psalm+46+-+Verse+1-2+Stroudwater+-+Rev+R+F+Morrison.mp3
Track 5 Position A5
Track 5 Title Psalm 107 - 28-30 Kilmarnock - John MacMillan
Track 5 Preview URL https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/usolnaudiopreviews/ALE009/A5.+Psalm+107+-+28-30+Kilmarnock+-++John+MacMillan.mp3
Track 6 Position A6
Track 6 Title Psalm 121 - 1-3 French - Murdo Macleod
Track 6 Preview URL https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/usolnaudiopreviews/ALE009/A6.+Psalm+121+-+1-3+French+-+Murdo+Macleod.mp3
Track 7 Position A7
Track 7 Title Psalm 118 - 15-16 Coleshill - D A Matheson
Track 7 Preview URL https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/usolnaudiopreviews/ALE009/A7.+Psalm+118+-+15-16+Coleshill+-+D+A+Matheson.mp3
Track 8 Position B1
Track 8 Title Psalm 62 - 6-7 St Mary's - Rev K M Ferguson
Track 8 Preview URL https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/usolnaudiopreviews/ALE009/B1.+Psalm+62+-+6-7+St+Mary's+-+Rev+K+M+Ferguson.mp3
Track 9 Position B2
Track 9 Title Psalm 86 - 15-16 Evan - Rev James MacDonald
Track 9 Preview URL https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/usolnaudiopreviews/ALE009/B2.+Psalm+86+-+15-16+Evan+-+Rev+James+MacDonald.mp3
Track 10 Position B3
Track 10 Title Psalm 122 - 1-4 St Paul - Rev I D Campbell
Track 10 Preview URL https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/usolnaudiopreviews/ALE009/B3.+Psalm+122+-+1-4+St+Paul+-+Rev+I+D+Campbell.mp3
Track 11 Position B4
Track 11 Title Psalm 40 - 1-3 Ballerm - Murdo MacIver
Track 11 Preview URL https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/usolnaudiopreviews/ALE009/B4.+Psalm+40+-+1-3+Ballerm+-+Murdo+MacIver.mp3
Track 12 Position B5
Track12 Title Psalm 103 - 13-14 Morven - Calum Martin
Track 12 Preview URL https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/usolnaudiopreviews/ALE009/B5.+Psalm+103+-+13-14+Morven+-+Calum+Martin.mp3