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Belfry The



From the Manse

Tarmachan Killin November 2016

Two years ago, almost exactly, I arrived in Killin to be the unlikely locum minister to Balquhidder with Killin & Ardeonaig Parish churches. I say ‘unlikely’ because, as an Ordained Local Minister, I am attached to Lothian Presbytery and am not supposed to stray outside its bounds. Nevertheless, rules were waived and precedents set and there I was and here I have been. Now, however, it is time to go home; a new Parish Minister has been called and will be inducted before you read this. His will be the task to lead God’s people in this place forward and I shall return to Lothian to another appointment. My two years here has been a wonderful adventure and an amazing time of personal growth and I leave with something of a heavy heart. The people and the places, the colours, the hills and the rivers and lochs have become dear to me and yet… God’s will for me here was simply to hold two congregations steady and faithful until a new ministry came along and that task has been completed. God’s plan for us all rolls on and we must be quick to obey and follow where He leads. And so, as we move closer to Advent and then another Christmas season, my prayer for all of you is that you will enjoy all of God’s richest blessings in the weeks and months to come; that you will care for one another as Christian family members should; and that, in spite of the ongoing violence, injustice and inhumanity of man to man in this world of ours, you will live in hope and pray unceasingly for the Second Coming of Christ the King when all tears will be wiped away. God bless you all and thank you for the welcome you have given me here and the many, many kindnesses you have shown me during my stay. It has been nothing but a privilege and a pleasure to serve among you. Reverend June Johnston

Balquhidder welcomes new minister December 2016

We have some wonderful news to share with you all! It has been nearly two and a half years since Reverend John Lincoln retired. Since then we have been so well looked after by OLM (Ordained Local Minister) Reverend June Johnston. June was part time, but generally put in many more hours. June finished here on the 17th November when our new minister, Reverend Dr Russel Moffat was inducted by the Stirling Presbytery Moderator - at Killin Parish Church, because it is a larger church, and we are linked with them. Russel is married with three grown up children. He was ordained in 1986. His last charge was at St. Martin’s Church Edinburgh. He has been used to quite varied approaches to worship from traditional, comtemporary, experimental, mixed economy, formal and informal. He knows that no two churches are the same. So we are very much looking forward to hearing him and worshipping with him. Anyone visiting us at Balquhidder Church can be assured of a warm welcome. Russel was preached in at his fist service on the 20th November 2016. Pauline Perkins Beadle Balquhidder Parish Church


CHURCH OF SCOTLAND Balquhidder Parish Church WEEKLY SERVICE Every Sunday at 11.30am

Welcome to the 2016 winter edition of The Belfry.

Note from the


It’s a time of change for our Church here in Balquhidder as we say farewell to our locum minister June Johnston, with heartfelt thanks for her leadership and work in the parish for the last two and a half years - but also as we welcome Dr Russel Moffat, our new minister. We wish him all the very best! Our main article for this edition is a hugely interesting piece about the Reverend Malcolm MacLeod, who was minister in Balquhidder during the first half of the twentieth century. A scholarly man with a passion for the Gaelic language, he was responsible for a surprising number of biblical translations and made a considerable contribution to worship in Scotland at that time. We are very grateful to Graham Cooper for sending us such a fascinating piece of writing. Lastly - a very happy festive season to our readers - and a positive, healthy new year. Merry Christmas, all! Gill Gill Waugh • Stronvar Farm • Balquhidder • FK19 8PB

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The Reverend Malcolm MacLeod and Balquhidder’s Gaelic Connections Graham G Cooper MD

The Reverend Malcolm MacLeod (Figure 1) was inducted as minister to Balquhidder Parish Church on the 10th of September 1937. At that time, he was a 56 year old man who had had a very busy and productive life, notable for dedication to two great causes: ministry within the Christian Church and support of the Gaelic language and culture. Perhaps these causes were closely linked in his mind. He had been born in 1881 in Crowlista, a township of 25 crofts in the district of Uig on the west coast of the island of Lewis. Gaelic was the language of the area and it would have been the language in which he first heard the Christian message that inspired his life, presented to him powerfully by the Sunday School teacher, John MacRae of Timsgarry. Malcolm MacLeod’s school education began at Crowlista and was completed at the Nicholson Institute, Stornoway (1897-1900) and at Glasgow High School (1900-1902). At the age of 21, he began undergraduate studies at Edinburgh University. As an Arts student, Professor Donald MacKinnon recognised him as one of the best who had ever passed through his Celtic Studies classes. After graduating from New College with a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1910, he was ordained and inducted to his first charge in Strath, Isle of Skye. His ministry in Skye, however, was interrupted by the Great War, and from early in 1915 he spent 3 years working with troops in France. Initially, he ministered to British soldiers at a large YMCA camp. Then, from 1916 onwards, he was chaplain to the Fourth Gordon Regiment of the 51st Highland Division. He served at many battle-fields which will be long remembered for massive loss of life, including the Somme and Ypres. On his return from France, Malcolm MacLeod continued his ministry in the United Free Church in Lochgilphead. He enjoyed living in an area with such a long and fascinating history, close to Dunadd and Kilmartin Glen, the heart of ancient Dalriada. There he began to develop what would prove to be lifelong interests: in the work of An Comunn Gàidhealach (The Gaelic Society), an organisation formed in 1891 to encourage the use of the Gaelic language and to establish the Royal National Mòd; and in the personal study of Gaelic, Old Irish, history and natural history. In 1924, he left Lochgilphead to accept the call of the busy and challenging charge of John Knox and Tradeston in Glasgow. This was a Gaelic congregation located in the Gorbals area but in the process of moving out to new housing on the eastern edge of Glasgow. Despite his considerable workload, Malcolm MacLeod found time to continue serving An Comunn Gàidhealach and to become a respected speaker on topics related to his interests in Celtic subjects. He had been an enthusiastic writer of pieces for church periodicals since his student days and his abilities in this area were recognised when, in 1936, he was invited to be the editor of the monthly periodical of An Comunn Gàidhealach, “An Gàidheal”. This, in brief, was Malcolm MacLeod’s background as he began what would prove to be the final nine years of


Figure 1 The Reverend Malcolm MacLeod (used with permission of Lafayette Ltd).

his life and ministry in Balquhidder. During his career, he had come to be known as a committed minister of the Gospel, an eloquent speaker and a kind and attentive pastor. He continued to exercise these qualities for the benefit of his parishioners in Balquhidder in the years of the Second World War, years in which the shortage of young men at home meant that he often had no assistant to help him with the services of the three churches in the parish. The difficulties of war time notwithstanding, Malcolm MacLeod maintained an active interest in the wider activities of both the Church of Scotland and An Comunn Gàidhealach: he was a member of several Church committees and the Convenor of the Highland Council of the Church of Scotland; in 1938, he was elected President of An Comunn Gàidhealach, a position he held until his death in 1946. In his biographical sketch of Malcolm MacLeod, the Reverend Thomas M MacCalmain wrote of how happy he had been to be living and working in Balquhidder during these years. The men were close friends and it is likely that Thomas MacCalmain’s observations were based on information received directly from him. He wrote of Malcolm MacLeod’s pleasure in the beautiful landscape, the warm and friendly people and the reminders on all sides of history: the Clach Aonghais, the grave of Rob Roy MacGregor, and the legacies of Robert Kirk and Dugald Buchanan. Given his interest in and affection for Highland and Celtic things, Balquhidder must indeed have been a source of great pleasure to Malcolm MacLeod. The parish is situated to the northwest of the “Highland Line”, a line of both geological and linguistic significance. Northwest of the Highland Boundary Fault, a fault line which runs approximately from Helensburgh in the west to Stonehaven in the east, Balquhidder shares the same rock structure as the Grampians, the Cairngorms, much of Argyll and the islands of Jura and Islay. The beauty of its mountains, its steep sided glens and its lochs is quintessentially Highland. In the 17th and 18th centuries, a linguistic “Highland Line” followed a similar course to the geological one, demarcating the predominantly Gaelic-speaking northwest from the English-speaking southeast (Figure 2).


The first detailed studies of the geography of language in Scotland began towards the end of the 17th century, fuelled by the needs of Protestant Evangelism and Education. At that time, Balquhidder parish was recorded as being within the Highland and Gaelic speaking territory. Gaelic had, indeed, been the first language of Balquhidder for many centuries. It is possible that a Celtic language, an early Irish Gaelic, was brought to the Pictish people of the glen by the Christian missionary St Angus in the 6th century. Although his origins are not entirely certain, he may have been the monk called Angus whose feast day on the 11th of August is mentioned in an ancient Martyrology of Donegal. There, he is described as a spiritual disciple of Mochta of Louth (d. 535 AD). An alternative possibility for the introduction of Gaelic to Balquhidder is that it came from the west with the people of Dalriada. Although the modern road, the A84, is towards the eastern edge of the parish, the Kirkton of Balquhidder was probably central to the routes of travellers from west to east in the early centuries AD. Those tracks which later became drove roads from Loch Lomondside and Argyll, over Bealach nan Corp, are believed to have been used in the first millennium as paths from the Celtic Kingdom of Dalriada to the Kingdoms of the Picts (Figure 3). Although the details of Gaelic’s arrival in the glen might be debatable, it is known that English gradually began to replace it as the first language of Balquhidder from the 18th century onwards. The area’s proximity to the Lowlands to the east, the impacts of trade and educational policy and the large movements of population in the 18th and 19th centuries gradually led to English/Gaelic bilingualism and then to the loss of Gaelic. National Census data is missing for several decades of the 20th century, but the records for 1901 and 1981 show, respectively, that 58.3% and 6% of the population were Gaelic speakers. During these centuries of gradual weakening of the Gaelic language in Balquhidder, however, numerous individuals made notable efforts on its behalf. One of those who did so was Malcolm MacLeod’s distant predecessor as minister of Balquhidder parish, the Reverend Robert Kirk (1644-1692). He was inducted to

Figure 2 “The Highland Line” in relation to Balquhidder (shown as flag “B”). The solid line shows the southeastern limit of Gaelic speaking parishes in 1698 (modified from C W J Withers (1984), used with the publishers permission). The dotted line shows the position of the Highland Boundary Fault.

this, his first charge, in 1664 and lived in Balquhidder until he was called to Aberfoyle in 1685. During his years in Balquhidder, he laboured single-handedly to translate the Psalms into a metrical form in Gaelic. Other churchmen, working under the auspices of the Synod of Argyll, had already published the first fifty metrical Psalms in Gaelic and there was perhaps some competition in the air. In The Gaelic Bible and Psalter (1930), the Reverend Donald MacKinnon wrote that Robert Kirk would work far into the night on his translation, clenching a lead bullet between his teeth: had he dropped

Figure 3 Ancient and modern roads through Balquhidder parish. The solid line shows the route of the A84. The dot-dash line shows the ancient track, possibly a route from Dalriada in the west to the Pictish Kingdoms of the east, subsequently a coffin road and a drove road (modified, with permission, from James Henderson Stewart PhD and Scotways, The dotted line shows a path south of Loch Voil as it appears on the Roy Military Survey, 1747 -1755 (with permission of National Library of Scotland).


off to sleep, he would have been woken by the sound of the bullet falling onto his desk. His version of the Psalms, Psalma Dhaibhidh A nMeadrachd (The Metrical Psalms of David), was published in 1684. Robert Kirk was a man of many skills and achievements, but perhaps the greatest of these was his transcription and editing of the Irish Bible of O’ Donnell and Bedell for readers of Scottish Gaelic, brought to publication in 1690. It was the only available Scottish Gaelic translation of the Bible for approximately 100 years. In 1927, Professor Donald MacLean wrote that the value of this Bible to the people of the Highlands was “beyond human calculation”. Dugald Buchanan (1716-1768) would have been another historical figure well known to Malcolm MacLeod. Although his name is often associated with Rannoch, where he spent many years as a highly respected schoolmaster, he was born in Strathyre in Balquhidder parish and brought up there on his father’s farm. After his father’s death in 1749, he inherited the farm and may well have spent periods of time working the land during the course of his adult life. In his account of the spiritual struggles that preceded his conversion to Christian faith, he mentioned that he used a quiet glen close to his father’s farm as a peaceful and inspiring retreat. In addition to his skills as a schoolmaster, preacher and catechist, Dugald Buchanan was an able linguist who supervised the printing of the Gaelic New Testament of 1767. He made an enduring contribution to Gaelic religious poetry with his Laoidhe Spioradail (Spiritual Songs). Published in 1767, they had appeared in 20 editions by 1844, an indication of their acclaim and influence. They are still held in high regard today. Among many others whose names were associated with Balquhidder and who made notable contributions to Gaelic language and culture, mention might be made of the schoolteacher James Murray, Sir John Murray MacGregor, the Reverend Alasdair MacGregor and the Reverend David Cameron. James Murray (d. 1757) was called back to Perthshire from Orkney in 1714 by the Society in Scotland for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge (SSPCK) to teach in the school it had funded in Balquhidder. In subsequent years, he repeatedly petitioned the SSPCK to permit the teaching of Gaelic literacy in their schools so that children of native Gaelic speakers could read the Gaelic Bible, both for their own benefit and that of their parents. Several decades later, the SSPCK did amend their policies to allow this.

Figure 4 The Reverend Malcolm MacLeod’s gravestone in Balquhidder Churchyard (photograph by Graham Cooper).

Sir John Murray MacGregor of Lanrick and Balquhidder (1745-1822) gave generously himself and encouraged subscriptions from other patrons to fund the publication of much Gaelic literature and music. In the second edition of his “Elements of Gaelic Grammar” (1812), Alexander Stewart expressed gratitude for his financial help and referred to his support of an edition of Ossian’s poetry. Sir John’s contribution to Gaelic language may have extended beyond patronage. In “The Gaelic Etymology of the Languages of Western Europe” (1877), Charles Mackay gave credit to him for the Gaelic word “buntàta” (potato): in addition to its phonetic qualities, it might literally mean “the splendid root” or “the choice root”. In the 19th century, the reverend gentlemen Alasdair MacGregor and David Cameron, ministers in successive

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periods at Balquhidder Church, carefully collected and published a booklet of place-names of the area with suggestions as to their Gaelic derivations. When he came to live and work in Balquhidder, Malcolm MacLeod would have been very aware of the Gaelic heritage of the parish. While his calling as a minister of the Christian Church was always his first priority, these last 9 years were to prove to be very productive in terms of his contribution to Highland culture and the Gaelic language. As President of An Comunn Gàidhealach, he supervised collection of donations of several thousand pounds to help and bring comfort to Highlanders who were fighting in the British Armed Forces or who were Prisoners of War. A portion of this money was used in publishing pocket-sized books with short articles in Gaelic on a variety of uplifting topics. Malcolm MacLeod edited the books and contributed essays himself on subjects as diverse as the Lewis chessmen and praise for the war efforts being made at home by women. The two books (Airgiod an Rìgh (1942) [The King’s Shilling]) and Seirbheis a’ Chrùn (1943) [The Service of the Crown]) added to his earlier literary output: his articles in Church periodicals and An Gàidheal, Comasan na h-Ùrnuigh (1913), a Gaelic translation of The Possibilities of Prayer by J H Oldham, and his co-editing of the Gaelic hymnbook An Laoidheadair (1935). Many would agree, however, that Malcolm MacLeod’s greatest contribution to Gaelic literature is the book An Iuchair Òir (The Golden Key). The Reverend Thomas MacCalmain edited this book, which saw publication in 1950. It is a collection of 27 sermons or radio addresses selected by Malcolm MacLeod before his death, preceded by Thomas MacCalmain’s biographical introduction. The sermons are deeply evangelical and written in beautiful Gaelic, rich in idiom and historical references. In the Gaelic “Thought for the Morning” on the 5th May 2016, the Reverend Dr Roddy MacLeod described the book as one presenting the message of the Gospel simply and expressively in graceful and articulate language. He offered the opinion that the book was well worth re-printing for the benefit of a new generation. Malcolm MacLeod is buried on the upper slopes of Balquhidder Churchyard, his grave marked by a Celtic cross designed by his friend, the architect and scholar, Colin Sinclair PhD (Figure 4). At the base of the cross are simple words which sum up the life of this faithful minister: “Thaisbean e gum bu duine le Dia e” (“He made it manifest that he was a man of God”).

Acknowledgements I am particularly indebted to “An Iuchair Òir” (1950, Stirling Tract Enterprise), edited by the Reverend Thomas M MacCalmain, for the biographical details of the Reverend Malcolm MacLeod. In addition to those sources mentioned in the text, I wish to acknowledge my debt to “Development and Change in the Parish of Balquhidder from the 15th Century to 1851” (1986, Newcastle University Library), the thesis of James Henderson Stewart PhD, “Gaelic in Scotland 1698 -1981. The Geographical History of a Language” (1984) by Professor Charles W J Withers and “The Decline of the Celtic Languages” (1983) by Victor E Durkacz, both published by John Donald, Edinburgh, “Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic) Local Studies, Volume 27: Siorrachd Pheairt agus Sruighlea (Perth and Stirling)” 2nd edition (2008) by Kurt C Duwe and “Laoidhean Spioradail Dhùghaill Bhochanain” (2015) edited by Professor Donald E Meek and published by the Scottish Gaelic Texts Society, Glasgow. I am grateful to Mr Donald John MacLeod, Glenelg, for his helpful advice with regard to Gaelic translation.





The Belfry is published twice yearly by The Friends of Balquhidder Church Association Chairman

Dr Russel Moffat

Vice Chairman Pauline Perkins

1 Auchtubh, Balquhidder FK19 8NZ

Treasurer Maureen Lipscomb

3 Ravenscroft Road, Lochearnhead FK19 8PW 01567 830234

Membership Rosemary Whittemore Secretary Editor Gill Waugh

Tannoch Taigh, Balquhidder FK19 8PB 01877 384359 Stronvar Farm, Balquhidder FK19 8PB 01877 384203

The Friends of Balquhidder Church Association is a Registered Charity - No. SC008569



The Belfry Winter 2016  

The Belfry News is a bi-annual publication compiled by The Friends of Balquhidder Church Association. This winter issue includes a message...

The Belfry Winter 2016  

The Belfry News is a bi-annual publication compiled by The Friends of Balquhidder Church Association. This winter issue includes a message...