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LISTEN: Gaelic Psalms From New Comp
The Quietus , January 17th, 2018 17:10

Information on a new album of stunning sacred music from the Hebrides

After a year in hiatus, reissues label Arc Light Editions return with an album of Gaelic psalm singing from the Hebrides, released for the first time on vinyl. You can listen to Psalm 79 3-4 ("They have poured out blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury the dead") above.

Salm: Volume One documents a form of religious singing practised in Lewis, a form that reaches back to a time when the congregation could not be expected to be able to read. Instead, a ‘precentor’ leads the singing, which the congregation then follow by listening. The result is a surging sound, that swoops and falls around the church spaces as people follow those next to them, voices moving like the murmurations of birds. These recordings of Gaelic psalm singing are among the best ever captured, sung by one of the largest congregations to have ever been recorded.

This style of singing is called free heterophony, and these recordings were spontaneous and totally unrehearsed. They were originally made over two evenings in the Back Free Church on the Isle of Lewis in October 2003, organised by Calum Martin and the Bethesda hospice in Lewis. The original CD was released through Bethesda hospice on Lewis, and a portion of the profits go back to the hospice, honouring the original recording.

Salm: Volume One will be released at the end of January and is available direct from Arc Light Editions here.

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