Fife's Famous Songs of Praise


Fife's Famous

Music and worship. Sally Magnusson visits the historic Kingdom of Fife in Scotland, birthplace of one of the world's richest men, who gave his fortune away.


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I'm at the centre of power of Scotland's medieval monarchs

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and home of the university where our future king and queen met.

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Welcome to the Kingdom of Fife.

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'This week, hymns from Dunfermline Abbey and St Andrews University.

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'The man who made a fortune, then gave it all away,

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'and who was the real Robinson Crusoe?'

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Fife is sandwiched between two of Scotland's great rivers,

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the Forth, here, and the Tay.

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It's called the Kingdom of Fife, and very proud Fifers are of this,

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because in ancient, Pictish times, they had their own kings.

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It was in St Andrews University that Prince William met Kate Middleton.

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St Andrews, on the east coast of Fife,

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was Scotland's medieval, religious capital.

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Its cathedral, built in the 12th century,

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is on the site where it's said the bones of the apostle were brought.

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It dominated Scotland's medieval church

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until the start of Reformation, in 1559.

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And we begin our journey in West Fife,

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in the ancient home of the Scottish kings and queens, Dunfermline.

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BELLS TOLL

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Dunfermline Abbey is not one but three churches, under one roof.

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Underneath its ancient floors,

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lie the bodies of eight Scottish kings.

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Mary Welsh is the custodian.

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The abbey here is of a very special place.

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It was built originally by Queen Margaret, as a small priory.

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She brought monks from Canterbury and she established

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-a very small priory here.

-And that's...

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That's the part that's down there.

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Margaret was a very pious lady and she tried to encourage people to be kind to the poor.

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It was very often said that she would feed the children

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from the king's table and bathe the feet of poor men as a penance.

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Margaret was originally buried in the floor of her own church,

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when she died, in 1093.

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It caused such a great uproar of tremendous feeling in Dunfermline.

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David, her youngest son, when he became king,

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he decided to honour his mother

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by turning her small priory into a large abbey.

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The abbey itself was consecrated in 1157.

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So, David actually didn't live to see his great church completed.

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-It took 100 years for that to be done.

-(Oh!)

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So, what is it like for you to spend your time...talking about this?

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You start out wanting to know a little bit of history

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and then eventually, you're hooked!

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You have to go back, look at the beginnings and work your way through history.

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To get to talk to people all over the world about that

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is really, quite an amazing thing.

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People have their own idea about Scotland

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and sometimes they think Scotland is Edinburgh and Glasgow!

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But to be honest, Dunfermline is much more ancient,

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has a huge royal history.

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It's a wonderful place to be.

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-And this place is very precious to you personally, is it?

-It is, yes.

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A few years ago I lost my mother, very suddenly,

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and I was looking for something

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and I didn't know what I was looking for.

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However, I saw a small advert in the paper

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and decided I would apply for the job of historian at the abbey

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and I haven't regretted it,

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I've loved every minute of it, and I think it was something I was given,

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something that was given to me,

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and I really love every minute of it.

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One individual who lived over a century ago

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has left a living legacy across the world.

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Libraries, schools, hospitals,

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universities - even church organs, including Dunfermline Abbey's -

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all benefited from the philanthropy of one of the richest men

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of all time, Andrew Carnegie.

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His personal wealth in today's money

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would probably be greater than computer billionaire, Bill Gates.

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He gave away a fortune during his lifetime

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and even today, his trust funds are still distributing millions.

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What was Andrew Carnegie's philosophy...about money?

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It would be fascinating to actually be able to interview him...

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-Hmmm.

-..to find, to get the real answer to that question.

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But by a comparatively young man, he had made this huge fortune

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and then by his middle years

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had decided to start to give it all away,

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and created these trusts, across the world.

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I mean the programmes, the extent of the programmes

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is just...astonishing!

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And the breadth of his thinking in that era...

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..I just find really challenging.

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By the time he had died in 1919, he'd given away

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in the region of 350 million,

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which equates in today's terms to billions.

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He grew up in Dunfermline, the son of a weaver,

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whose family all lived in just one room.

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The family emigrated to America and by the time he died,

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he'd made his fortune from steel,

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which funded a rather grander home beside New York's Central Park.

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A far cry from the Dunfermline cottage.

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Carnegie's legacy in his home town is here for all to see.

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The estate opposite his cottage -

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which as a boy he was never allowed to enter -

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was bought and turned into a public park for everyone to enjoy.

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He believed, didn't he, that it was actually a matter of shame

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for a wealthy man to die wealthy?

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That's right. He had this principle that the man that dies rich,

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dies disgraced,

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and so, he set about to give away all of his money before he died.

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-And of course, there's lots of it left...

-There is, there is.

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-..because of how it was invested.

-We're still spending it every day.

-Exactly.

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But it does bring responsibilities, so that when we do spend money,

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we've got to be sure that it's spent wisely.

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We want this trust to be here in another 100 years' time.

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Today, Andrew Carnegie's trusts are still spending

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almost a quarter of a million dollars, every single day.

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From the magnificent Forth bridges linking Fife to Edinburgh,

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there's a path around the coast, over 100 miles long.

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This part of the coast is known as the East Neuk.

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Neuk is an old Scots word for a corner.

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Every twist and turn reveals another historic town or village.

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The picturesque harbours are a tribute

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to 16th century building skills

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and evidence of the long tradition of a fishing industry.

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Ships would sail out from harbours like this, not just to fish

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but to trade with European countries,

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just across the North Sea.

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Our next song, in Scotland's ancient language, Gaelic,

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is a prayer for safe return from sea.

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The old ports and harbours are now havens for leisure.

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As well as holiday-makers, they attract commuters

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from Scotland's capital, on the other side of the Forth.

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Who would have thought that one of these villages, Largo,

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would produce Alexander Selkirk, the man whose real-life story

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would form a basis of Daniel Defoe's novel, whose hero,

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Robinson Crusoe, was marooned on an island off the coast of Chile.

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'This is the church where Alexander Selkirk worshipped regularly. A native of Largo,'

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he, like many schoolboys played pranks,

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but some of the behaviour that he got up to, was,

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in the eyes of the Kirk Session, just a little too excessive.

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So, he was asked to come before them,

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he was told to behave himself

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and I think as a result of that, he decided to take himself off to sea.

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He found himself in a ship, off Chile.

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When it was suggested that the ship he was on should mutiny,

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he wanted no part in that.

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So, they said, "Well, if you don't want any part, we're going to put you off!" And put him off, they did.

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And he landed in the islands that we now know as Juan Fernandez Islands.

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In particular, Robinson Crusoe Island.

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Largo was twinned with Juan Fernandez Island, just before a tsunami struck.

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Since then, Largo children have been raising funds

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to rebuild the school there.

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We found out about Juan Fernandez Island

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when one of the people from the town went

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and they set up a twinning project with the two towns -

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the town on the island, St John The Baptist

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and Lundin Links in Largo.

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There's been an earthquake in Chile and it didn't take very long

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but the shudders vibrated the sea and it made a tsunami...

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..most of their town was destroyed along with their school.

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When that happened we decided, "Right, we need to raise money for this. We need to help them."

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We're sort of, like, friends together,

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so we need to get them back on track.

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Well, we've already raised with our sponsored walk, over £1,000,

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and we've sent that over to help with the school

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and help rebuild the society.

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It's just sort of, to make their lives easier.

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I've made a detour back to Burntisland.

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It was at a meeting here,

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of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, in 1601,

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that the idea of the 1611 King James Bible was conceived.

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In the 16th century, in the wake of the Reformation,

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various vernacular translations

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of the Bible into English had been produced.

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All of them controversial for various reasons,

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partly because they were littered with mistakes.

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When King James VI became James I of England,

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the Scots said, "Please, don't forget our Presbyterian request

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"to get a new Bible."

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The tragedy is that King James immediately -

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when he had arrived in England, in the year 1604, said -

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"I will give you a Bible, but not the way you expected."

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He's reported to have said

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Scottish Presbyterianism and monarchy go together

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as well as God and the Devil,

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and so, he wanted to have a new translation,

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which would rather absorb and include difference of opinion,

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rather than favouring one side and thereby annoying the other.

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I'm travelling further along the Fife coast now

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to St Andrews, to find out about a more recent but very unusual

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translation of the Bible into Scots.

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"Ae day some fowk brocht forrit their bairns

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"for Jesus tae pit his haunds on them.

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"The disciples begoud tae quarrel them..."

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It's the work of the late Robert Lorimer,

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who was Professor of Greek at St Andrews University.

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"..come tae me, seekna tae hender them;

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"it is een sie as them at the Kingdom o God belangs...

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"..Syne he tuik the littlans in his oxter

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"an pat his haunds on them an gae them his blissin."

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-I love that, "The littlans to his oxter!"

-He puts them in under his arm, yeah.

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It's interesting, the language is simple and it's forceful

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but it's not, it's not simplistic, it's not...

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No, no, I mean, this guy who did it

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was a Greek scholar, he knew the Greek New Testament,

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he'd gone back to the original and thought very carefully about it,

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it took him ten years to make this version.

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What does it do to you, to hear the Bible in Scots, like that?

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I love the expression, "The Loch o Galilee"

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because it makes it very immediate.

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Although that's about water, it grounds it.

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"Ae day he wis gaein alangside the Loch o Galilee, whan he saw

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"Simon an his brither Andro castin their net i the watter -

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"they war fishers tae tredd - an he said til them,

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"'Come awa efter me, an i s'mak ye men-fishers;'

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"an strecht they quat their nets an fallowt him."

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I warmed to it quite immediately.

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It's a Jesus who hasn't gone to elocution lessons.

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So, he sounds quite warm,

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gets in under the radar,

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there's a vernacular immediacy to it.

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Words like, "Bairns," that Christ uses in the Bible, here,

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you could go onto a bus between here and Dundee

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and people would be speaking that way.

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So, maybe there's a slight class aspect to it,

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but there's also just a vernacularity

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that's hard to hear now, in the King James Bible.

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The King James Bible is such an orthodox,

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and to many people, a rather posh voice.

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This isn't posh-voiced in that sense.

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King James was a hater of democracy.

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He was very against Scots Presbyterianism

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and the King James Bible is not a Presbyterian version of the Bible.

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This, I think, is written by somebody who'd grown up

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very much in Scots Presbyterianism

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and with the vernacular Scots tongue of the people.

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So, to me, it has a kind of democratic accent.

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# Jesu

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# Joy of man's desiring

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# Holy wisdom

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# Love most bright

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# Drawn by Thee

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# Our souls aspiring

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# Soar to uncreated light

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# Word of God

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# Our flesh that fashioned

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# With the fire

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# Of life impassioned

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# Striving still

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# To truth unknown

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# Soaring

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# Dying

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# Round Thy

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# throne. #

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'We thank you for the faith, which inspired those

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'who gave us the buildings, where we can be still and reflect.'

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'We thank you for the vision, which has given us the opportunity

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'to make others' lives better and to play our part

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'in bringing your kingdom, here on Earth.'

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'We thank you for the words we use to shed new light

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'on our understanding of Jesus' life.'

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We close with an old favourite,

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Timothy Dudley-Smith's popular hymn,

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Lord For The Years.

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'Next week, we're back in St Andrews University,

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'whose 600th anniversary

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'celebrations were kicked off earlier this year

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'by two of its best known graduates, Prince William and Kate Middleton.

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'We'll be meeting the Prince's former tutor

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'and we'll have hymns from the university chapel

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'and from Dunfermline Abbey.'

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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E-mail [email protected]

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Sally Magnusson makes her first visit to the historic Kingdom of Fife in Scotland, birthplace of one of the world's richest men, who gave his fortune away. With hymns and songs from Dunfermline Abbey, St Andrews University and singer Julie Fowlis.


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