Monday, 30 November 2009

Advent Hymns - 2

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of St Andrew.

Thou art coming, O my Saviour,
Thou art coming, O my King,
In Thy beauty all resplendent,
In Thy glory all transcendent;
Well may we rejoice and sing:
Coming! in the opening east
Herald brightness slowly swells;
Coming! O my glorious Priest,
Hear we not Thy golden bells?

Thou art coming, Thou art coming;
We shall meet Thee on Thy way,
We shall see Thee, we shall know Thee,
We shall bless Thee, we shall show Thee
All our hearts could ever say:
What an anthem that will be,
Ringing out our love to Thee,
Pouring out our rapture sweet
At Thine own all glorious feet.

Thou art coming; at Thy altar
We are witnesses for this;
While remembering hearts Thou meetest
In communion clearest, sweetest,
Earnest of our coming bliss,
Showing not Thy death alone,
And Thy love exceeding great;
But Thy coming and Thy throne,
All for which we long and wait.

Thou art coming, we are waiting
With a hope that cannot fail,
Asking not the day or hour,
Resting on Thy Word of power,
Anchored safe within the veil.
Time appointed may be long,
But the vision must be sure;
Certainty shall make us strong,
Joyful patience can endure.

O the joy to see Thee reigning,
Thee, my own belovèd Lord!
Every tongue Thy Name confessing,
Worship, honour, glory, blessing
Brought to Thee with glad accord;
Thee, my Master and my Friend,
Vindicated and enthroned;
Unto earth’s remotest end
Glorified, adored, and owned!

What a fabulous hymn!

Happy Feast!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Advent Hymns - 1

Here we see Ben Wyvis (a Munro just North West of Inverness) covered in snow.

Hills of the North, Rejoice!
River and mountain spring,
Hark to the advent voice;
Valley and lowland, sing;
Though absent long, your Lord is nigh;
He judgment brings and victory.

Isles of the southern seas,
Deep in your coral caves
Pent be each warring breeze,
Lulled be your restless waves:
He comes to reign with boundless sway,
And makes your wastes His great highway.

Lands of the East, awake,
Soon shall your sons be free;
The sleep of ages break,
And rise to liberty.
On your far hills, long cold and grey,
Has dawned the everlasting day.

Shores of the utmost West,
Ye that have waited long,
Unvisited, unblest,
Break forth to swelling song;
High raise the note, that Jesus died,
Yet lives and reigns, the Crucified.

Shout, while ye journey home;
Songs be in every mouth;
Lo, from the North we come,
From East, and West, and South.
City of God, the bond are free,
We come to live and reign in thee!

This is of course the theme tune for my blog.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Stirling Castle - 6

This coming Monday is of course St Andrew's Day - he is the Patron Saint of Scotland.

St Andrew's celebration at Stirling Castle

£110 plus VAT per person

Historic Scotland is delighted to announce it’s first St Andrew's Ceilidh at Stirling Castle. This event is the perfect setting for a final celebration of the Scottish Homecoming Year 2009.

The St Andrew's Celebration at Stirling Castle will take the format of a contemporary Scottish evening with a mixture of modern entertainment throughout the night, finishing with a ceilidh band guaranteed to get everyone swinging and dancing.

With a fine selection of entertainment and high quality menu, this event will provide a unique opportunity to entertain guests in the Great Hall at Stirling Castle.

Cock a Leekie Soup
Roast, Stuffed Saddle of Lamb with rosemary and garlic, Gratin potatoes, savoy cabbage and carrots
Mixed Crème Brulee with shortbread
Coffee & Tablet

Black Tie/Highland Dress

Seating will be by table plan. Tables can be reserved for parties of up to 10.

Programme for the Night Includes
7pm Pre-dinner drinks including sparkling wine and selection of soft drinks in the Chapel Royal
8pm Dinner in the Great Hall
9.45pm Entertainment and dancing to a modern style Ceilidh band
Midnight Auld Lang Syne
12.15am Carriages

What a fabulous evening it sounds!

Well tomorrow we shall start a new series of posts to lead us up to Christmas - Advent Hymns. The blog will also assume a more sombre colour scheme until the great feast arrives. We shall return to Stirling Castle towards the end of January.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Stirling Castle - 5

The Great Hall is a magnificent setting for a banquet!

Salvation, glory, and power to our God:
his judgments are honest and true.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Sing praise to our God, all you his servants,
all you who worship him, great and small.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

The Lord our all-powerful God is King;
let us rejoice, sing praise, and give him glory.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

The wedding feast of the Lamb has begun,
and his bride is prepared to welcome him.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Stirling Castle - 4

Here we see the magnificent ceiling of the Great Hall.

The original hammerbeam roof was removed in 1800, along with the decorative crenellated parapet, when the hall was subdivided to form barracks. Two floors and five cross-walls were inserted, and the windows were altered accordingly. As early as 1893, calls were being made for the restoration of the Great Hall, but it was not until the army left in 1965 that the opportunity arose.

It was agreed that a historically correct restoration could be achieved, and works began which were only completed in 1999. The hammerbeam roof and parapet were replaced, windows reinstated, and the outer walls were lime-washed.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Stirling Castle - 3

Here we see James IV’s Great Hall – the largest medieval banqueting hall ever built in Scotland.

Situated on a volcanic outcrop guarding the lowest crossing point of the River Forth, Stirling Castle is a great symbol of Scottish Independence and a source of enduring national pride. The castle’s long, turbulent history is associated with great figures from Scotland’s past, such as William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and Mary Queen of Scots. It has seen many royal dramas and witnessed the lives and deaths of almost every Scottish monarch up to the Union of the Crowns in 1603.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Stirling Castle - 2

Stirling Castle has a less military feel to it nowadays, compared with Edinburgh Castle. Here is a lovely garden to the South side of the Royal Palace.

Stirling Castle is one of Scotland’s grandest castles due to its imposing position and impressive architecture. It commands the countryside for many miles around.

It towers over some of the most important battlefields of Scotland’s past including Stirling Bridge, the site of William Wallace’s victory over the English in 1297, and Bannockburn where Robert the Bruce defeated the same foe in the summer of 1314.

While the castle remains open, the Palace itself is currently shut as part of a major project to present the King’s and Queen’s Lodgings as they might have appeared in the mid 16th century. The Palace will reopen in March 2011.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Stirling Castle - 1

Although Edinburgh Castle is more famous, and attracts far more visitors, most connoisseurs reckon that Stirling Castle is superior!

Here we see the grand approach to the castle up the esplanade. Stirling Castle is situated in the centre of Stirling and is well connected by road and rail to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Christ the King

On this final Sunday of the Church's Year, we celebrate with great joy the Feast of Christ the King.

Let earth rejoice! Let all creation sing!
Heav'n adds its praises to the Saviour King.
Around the throne the shouts of triumph ring.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

To earth he came, a child so long ago
Light in our darkness, grace and truth to show.
The Word of life, whose gospel now we know.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Despised, rejected, he was crucified;
Suffering Servant, on the cross he died;
true Lamb of God, salvation to provide.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

He rose again, and bursting from the grave
reigns high in glory, who our sins forgave,
now we rejoice, as those he came to save.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

So on this day, O Christ our mighty King,
let all the faithful, praise and honour bring,
our voices blend with heaven's choirs to sing:
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Copyright: Peter Simpson & Michael Saward - Jubilate Hymns

Happy Feast!

Tomorrow, we are off to Stirling Castle.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Elcho Castle - 5

To the south of the castle there was a courtyard enclosed by an outer wall.

Today, gardens and grounds surrounded the complex. Recently, Historic Scotland have planted old fashioned varieties of apple trees in the orchard - and if you visit the castle towards the end of September, you can help yourself to some of them - free of charge!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Elcho Castle - 4

Apart from a new roof and new window glazing in the 1830s, the castle has changed little since it was built – a large tower house with smaller towers projecting from it, some round and others square.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Elcho Castle - 3

Elcho is of particular interest as showing the transition from castle to mansion building in Scotland. The castle manages to combine an imposing exterior with an interior that provided the noble occupants and their guests with considerable comfort and privacy.

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
He made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

Not politically correct!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Elcho Castle - 2

There is little history attached to the castle. It simply served as a fine house in the country for the laird and his lady, their family and servants, who lived mainly at their chief seat, Wemyss Castle, on the coast of Fife. By the mid-18th century, Elcho was no longer being used as a noble residence at all, but repairs carried out by the 8th Earl in about 1830 secured its future, and in 1929 the 11th Earl entrusted it into state care.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Elcho Castle - 1

Elcho Castle is located on the banks of the River Tay, three miles South East of Perth.

The Castle is one of Scotland’s best-preserved 16th-century tower houses. It was built around the time of the Protestant Reformation in 1560 by a member of the family of Wemyss of that Ilk. The family could trace their lineage back to the 12th century. A descendant of the builder of Elcho was created Lord Wemyss of Elcho in 1628 and Earl of Wemyss in 1633.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Huntingtower Castle - 4

The gap between these two towers is over 3 metres - would you like to leap from the top of one tower to the other? Click on the photo below to read the story!

Tomorrow we are off to Elcho Castle.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

In today's Gospel we think about the Second-Coming. 'The sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its brightness, the stars will come falling from heaven and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.'

Sun and moon shall darkened be,
stars shall fall, the heavens shall flee;
Christ will then like lightning shine,
all will see his glorious sign;
all will then the trumpet hear,
all will see the Judge appear;
thou by all wilt be confessed,
God in man made manifest.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Huntingtower Castle - 3

Despite alterations in the later 17th century, Huntingtower retains real treasures from its medieval past. These include one of the oldest painted ceilings surviving in Scotland, and exquisite fragments of wall frescoes.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Huntingtower Castle - 2

Huntingtower appears today as a single building, but it was not always so. Before the late 17th century, when the Murrays attempted to make the medieval castle look more like a regular country mansion, the Place of Ruthven comprised two substantial tower houses standing less than 3m apart. This arrangement was highly unusual, and how it came about is one of Huntingtower’s enduring mysteries. Other buildings, including a great hall, stood beside the tower houses around a courtyard. All were enclosed within a substantial stone defensive wall.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Huntingtower Castle - 1

The ruins of Huntingtower Castle are located in the North-West outskirts of Perth.

Huntingtower Castle was a lordly residence for 300 years, from the 15th to the 18th century. It is associated with two noble families: the Ruthvens (later earls of Gowrie) and, following their downfall in 1600, the Murrays (earls of Tullibardine and later dukes of Atholl). Prior to 1600, Huntingtower was known as the Place of Ruthven.

Huntingtower has hosted some famous visitors, and been associated with some dramatic events. Mary Queen of Scots stayed here in 1565, during her honeymoon with Lord Darnley. In 1582, Mary’s son, James VI, was held here against his will by the 1st Earl of Gowrie, in a famous episode known as the ‘Ruthven Raid’. With the downfall of the 3rd Earl in 1600, in an equally bizarre episode called the ‘Gowrie Conspiracy’, the Ruthvens were disinherited and their forfeited castle was renamed Huntingtower.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Armistice Day

Here we see Inverness War Memorial - which will be the scene of a Solemn Act of Remembrance at 11.00 am on this the 11th day of the 11 month of the year. As we keep the two minutes silence we think of the words:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home:

Under the shadow of thy throne,
thy saints have dwelt secure;
sufficient is thine arm alone,
and our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
or earth received her frame,
from everlasting thou art God,
to endless years the same.

A thousand ages in thy sight
are like an evening gone;
short as the watch that ends the night
before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
bears all its sons away;
they fly, forgotten, as a dream
dies at the opening day.

O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
be thou our guide while troubles last,
and our eternal home!

Tomorrow we shall be visiting Huntingtower Castle.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Stanley Mills - 7

Here we see an order from Wykes of Leicester placed on 10 August 1978.

India became independent in 1947 and imposed import tariffs on cotton goods, damaging a major export market. The growing availability of electricity also shrank the market for belting.

By the late 1960s, Stanley was mainly producing artificial fibres. In 1979, a management buyout led to the formation of Stanley Mills (Scotland), but the market proved too competitive and the mills eventually closed in 1989.

It has now been restored by Historic Scotland and is open to the public. Be among the first to enjoy our new hi-tech interactive visitor experience at the spectacular 18th-century water mill complex beside the River Tay.

The visitor centre tells the stories of those who worked there and the products they made. The superb interactive displays let you discover if your fingers are as nimble as a child labourer’s or compete to see if you are tough enough in business to make the mills profitable. Hear the clamour of the factory floor and see how engineers harnessed the energy of the Tay as well as the machinery that turned raw cotton into products sold around the world.

We think about the passing of the years as once more we prepare to keep Armistice Day.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Stanley Mills - 6

Here we see a plan of the site as it is today. Not exactly the Lateran Basilica!


F.S. Sandeman took over in 1876. He was an astute businessman and a skilled technician. He replaced the water wheels with turbines and introduced cotton belting as a product. Belting was sold around the world to drive machinery.

During the First and Second World Wars, the mills saw good years producing webbing for the armed forces. Another important innovation came in 1916, when Stanley Mills began producing an ‘endless’ thin cotton belt used in the manufacture of cigarettes. This product helped the mills survive the Depression of the 1920s.

Happy Feast!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

In the Gospel, Jesus speaks to us today about the generosity of a poor widow - he doesn't tell us that she is old!

Take my life, and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to thee;
take my moments and my days,
let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move
at the impulse of thy love;
take my feet, and let them be
swift and beautiful for thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing
always, only, for my King;
take my lips, and let them be
filled with messages from thee.

Take my silver and my gold,
not a mite would I withhold;
take my intellect, and use
every power as thou shalt choose.

Take my will and make it thine;
it shall be no longer mine.
take my heart, it is thine own;
it shall be thy royal throne.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour
at thy feet its treasure store;
take my self, and I will be
ever, only, all for thee.

Remember, the Lord loves a cheerful giver!

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Stanley Mills - 5

They built machines to last in the old days!

Initially, the mills thrived. The East Mill was added to process flax, but it was gutted by fire in 1799. Because of this, and a slump caused by war in France, Stanley Mills closed down.

The mills were bought in 1801 by James Craig, with financial support from David Dale, the founder of New Lanark mills. However, the business failed again and the mills closed in 1813.

In 1823, the mills were bought and reopened by Buchanan & Co of Glasgow. They enlarged the East Mill and built the Mid Mill, the gas works and, in Stanley village, a church and new housing. The company flourished for 30 years. In 1848, the owner, George Buchanan, helped establish a rail link to Stanley. This greatly eased the transportation of raw cotton from Glasgow. Buchanan sold the mills in 1852.

The next owner was Samuel Howard, who closed the mills during the Cotton Famine of the 1860s, causing mass unemployment.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Stanley Mills - 4

Please click on the photo for a clear view.

By the late 18th century, Perthshire had a well established textile industry. Linen was produced from locally grown flax, using water-powered machinery.

Around this time, British merchants began importing cotton, which could be spun into warm and strong textiles. In northern England, water-driven machines were being installed in large factories to process the ‘new’ fibre.

By 1785, a group of Perth merchants were eager to establish a cotton industry on the Tay. They persuaded the English textile baron Richard Arkwright to invest his money and expertise.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Stanley Mills - 3

Stanley Mills is one the best-preserved relics of the 18th-century Industrial Revolution. It was established as a cotton mill by local merchants, with support from the English cotton baron Richard Arkwright. Textiles were produced here for 200 years.

The mills were built in 1786 at a hairpin bend in the River Tay, where tremendous water-power was available. Machinery was powered initially by water wheels, and latterly by electricity generated by water-powered turbines. As the market changed and new technologies developed, buildings were added, adapted, expanded, shut down, reopened and demolished.

It is now possible to explore the buildings and discover the many changes that took place over two centuries.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Stanley Mills - 2

Working at Stanley Mills is no picnic! Expect 12 hour shifts, 6 days a week. You must learn to 'offer it up'!

Teach me, my God and King,
in all things thee to see,
and what I do in anything
to do it as for thee.

A man that looks on glass,
on it may stay his eye;
or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
and then the heaven espy.

All may of thee partake;
nothing can be so mean,
which with this tincture, "for thy sake,"
will not grow bright and clean.

A servant with this clause
makes drudgery divine:
who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,
makes that and the action fine.

This is the famous stone
that turneth all to gold;
for that which God doth touch and own
cannot for less be told.

Now, get back to work!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Stanley Mills - 1

I hope you were not late - you have to clock on at 6.00 am sharp! Of course, at this time of year the Mill will still be in darkness as you walk down the road from your humble lodging.

Work is sweet, for God has blest
honest work with quiet rest;
rest below and rest above,
in the mansions of his love,
when the work of life is done,
when the battle's fought and won.

Work ye, then, while yet 'tis day,
work, ye Christians, while ye may;
work for all that's great and good,
working for your daily food,
working whilst the golden hours,
health and strength and youth are yours.

Working not alone for gold,
not for work that's bought and sold;
not the work that worketh strife,
but the working of a life;
careless both of good or ill,
if ye can but do his will.

Working ere the day is gone,
working till your work is done;
not as traffickers at marts,
but as fitteth honest hearts;
working till your spirits rest
with the spirits of the blest.

Yes, don't expect much pay at the end of the week!

Monday, 2 November 2009

All Souls' Day

There are many graves within the ruined walls of Dunkeld Cathedral. Today we pray for the repose of the souls of all the faithful departed who are not yet in heaven - that soon we will rejoice with them on All Saints' Day.

Light’s abode, celestial Salem,
Vision whence true peace doth spring,
Brighter than the heart can fancy,
Mansion of the highest King;
O how glorious are the praises
Which of thee the prophets sing!

There for ever and for ever
Alleluia is outpoured
For unending and unbroken
Is the feast day of the Lord;
All is pure and all is holy
That within thy walls is stored.

There no cloud nor passing vapor
Dims the brightness of the air;
Endless noonday, glorious noonday,
From the Sun of suns is there;
There no night brings rest from labour,
For unknown are toil and care.

O how glorious and resplendent,
Fragile body, shalt thou be,
When endued with so much beauty,
Full of health, and strong, and free,
Full of vigour, full of pleasure
That shall last eternally!

Now with gladness, now with courage,
Bear the burden on thee laid,
That hereafter these thy labours
May with endless gifts be paid,
And in everlasting glory
Thou with brightness be arrayed.

Laud and honour to the Father,
Laud and honour to the Son,
Laud and honour to the Spirit,
Ever Three, and ever One,
Consubstantial, Co-eternal,
While unending ages run.

Well, tomorrow we are off to our labours - we are visiting Stanley Mills on the banks of the River Tay, just north of Perth.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

All Saints' Day

Today, as we celebrate the glorious autumnal festival of All Saints', we have a restful scene of the banks of the River Tay at Dunkeld.

Shall we gather at the river,
Where bright angel feet have trod,
With its crystal tide forever
Flowing by the throne of God?


Yes, we’ll gather at the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river;
Gather with the saints at the river
That flows by the throne of God.

On the margin of the river,
Washing up its silver spray,
We will talk and worship ever,
All the happy golden day.


Ere we reach the shining river,
Lay we every burden down;
Grace our spirits will deliver,
And provide a robe and crown.


At the smiling of the river,
Mirror of the Saviour’s face,
Saints, whom death will never sever,
Lift their songs of saving grace.


Soon we’ll reach the silver river,
Soon our pilgrimage will cease;
Soon our happy hearts will quiver
With the melody of peace.


Lovely words and a lovely tune!

Happy Festival!