Singing in Argyll….NOW WITH PHOTO


 On Sunday our Choir ‘Angelus Singers’  went to St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ballachulish, at Argyll near famous Glencoe, for the service of Sung Evensong. You can’t miss the Church, in its glorious setting halfway between Glencoe and the Ballachulish Bridge. It has an ancient history with the graveyard of especial historical interest, and they have the Communion Cup and Plate reputedly used by the Jacobites just before Culloden. The building is in some need of restoration, but the beauty is still evident. 

The fact that we were asked made us feel very proud, as the area of course is full of musical choirs, who participate in the Mod Festival, and Gaelic is still extensively spoken.We were supplemented by some local choir members, and a total of  18 singers filled the choir stalls. This allowed us to have a rousing service of well-known hymns, traditional sung responses, collects, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, and Psalm 119 (only a small part!). In addition we had an Introit and Anthem. The performance of the latter, ‘I saw a new heaven’…. was a first performance. Words of the Revelation of St John were the inspiration of this piece, and it is dedicated to the present congregation, and those who have gone before.

The weather was foul, during the two hour  journey both ways, but ballachulish-original-churchwe all arrived safely. We couldn’t  process from the ‘old church’ (really an old storehouse), to the ‘new church’  (1830’s)  because of the rain and snow.  The  organ then threw a tantrum by ‘ciphering’, when certain stops and notes got stuck and kept on playing! The organist kept her cool and and played well under the circumstances!

An excellent congregation had braved the weather, many from a long distance, and obviously enjoyed the old well-kent words, spoken and sung.
So it was a great event, and shows that many people working together, despite the many problems can produce something bigger than any of us.

How fortunate can anyone get to be in the midst of some of the most wonderful countryside in the world, and sing our hearts out!


10 thoughts on “Singing in Argyll….NOW WITH PHOTO

  1. i love that you live amid such history and beauty and what’s more–you recognize it!

    happy to hear about this event–sounds like it was fun despite the weather and organ problems.

    do you do all the planning yourself for the choir? how do you select churches to visit…or do you have to be invited?

  2. At 2pm, we thought Angelus Singers would be singing to themselves – the West Highland area was experiencing one of its challenging weather fronts: hail, sleet, snow, gales & sometimes a tantalising hint of bright sunshine!!!

    No amount of planning can persuade people to come to church on a day like this. For some of us, travelling to Ballachulish/going home through Glencoe was both frightening & breathtaking. At 3pm, everything changed, when we realised between 80-90 people were in the church; the CHOIR LED & the CONGREGATION RESPONDED!

    With nature reminding us of its power outside, Harry’s contemplative Anthem ‘I saw a New Heaven’ was sung quietly & beautifully in complete contrast to the elements. Evensong “brings an element of peace & tranquillity at the end of the day” (Harry’s words) & brought back memories of former times for many in the congregation – all of whom expressed their thanks.

    Here on this site, is another opportunity to say THANK YOU again to Angelus Singers + new choir members from St Andrew’s, Fort William & St Bride’s, Onich, Elsa the Organist and to Harry for his dedication (& humour). We have a lot of hard work ahead re the Restoration Project, but Events like this, give us inspiration to keep going.
    MORAN TAING Friends of St John’s, Ballachulish

  3. Natalie…..although the main population of Scotland lies in the central belt between Dundee, Edinburgh, and Glasgow, we are lucky that within an hour, anyone can be in glorious scenery. Argyll rivals Switzerland in its rugged character and the two hour journey we take from Glasgow area takes us past lovely lakes, between great mountains, with startling views, across exposed moorland, through pretty villages, and then the drop from Rannoch Moor into dour Glencoe (the Vale of Weeping)where the massacre took place. Lastly one can either go through the little village of Glencoe or bypass it on the run along the side of Loch Leven to Ballachulish……superb!!

    Julie…..the only thing missing from a wonderful day was a bit of sun. To have taken the symbolic walk from the ‘old’ church to the ‘new’ church would have reflected the words of the Anthem, speaking of the ‘Old Heaven’ and the ‘New Heaven’, but it was not to be!…….just don’t let it happen again!!

  4. Natalie….sorry, forgot to mention….we are all church folk who love singing. Our background is Episcopalian (close to Anglican) music, and we feel that our job is to help churches such as St John’s who have no choir and do not have any Evensong. We always say that we want local participation as we are only there to help on their request. We are happy to travel some distance and two hours is normal. I have been a church organist for years, conduct the choir, and tend to write a fair bit of the music we do….great fun, and very rewarding!

  5. For Natalie
    Marjorie & Julie (Friends of St John’s) say a prayer before each Event for fine weather. Since Oct 2006, we have had torrential rain (& more) during the morning, mid-day, evening or ALL day @ all the Events we have organised. Obviously, we are needing advice/missing a special ingredient – could you please help.

  6. I’m sure that Natalie realises that the Scottish weather takes no heed of anyone’s hopes or prayers!…..probably just like weather in her part of the world!

  7. Evensong at Ballachulish was something to be remembered for a long time. Thanks to all who arranged this beautiful service and Haste Ye Back.

  8. Despite the dreach weather the Angelus Singers, local choir members, the readers, the excellent organist, and Donald Davidson all uplifted the congregation’s spirits with a wonderful Evensong, and thanks also to the Vestry and the Friend’s of St. John’s for giving everyone this opportunity.

  9. We rarely get so many plaudits, but we are pleased mainly that we could see so many people coming together, and going away having recalled great times when worship was indeed a joy!

    We as a choir want to be ‘affiliated’ to the area, if you know what I mean, so that if we are required to help with any events, we would be pleased and honoured to be part of you, even if only briefly, and despite the fact that most of us have no Gaelic!

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