The sixth monthly Yarrow Acoustic Sessions is Capernaum: a poem written by Lewis Spence in the 1930s and set to music by Ed Miller in the 1990s. Ed gave me this song last year and I worked on it with the 60+ voices of RCS’s Sang Scuil.
Spence draws parallels between the past atrocities of Edinburgh and the biblical town of Capernaum. His imagery, in Scots, is devastating, beautiful in it’s stark honesty. This song is recognition of damage and suffering against people in Scotland created by our society and religious bodies. It’s part of us, cannot be undone and will continue forever in our history.
If aa the blood shed at thy tron, Embro, Embro;
If aa the blood shed at thy tron were shed intae a river
T’wuid caa the mills o Bonnington, Embro, Embro
T’wuid caa the mills o Bonnington forever and forever.
If aa the tears that thou hast grat, Embro, Embro;
If aa the tears that thou hast grat were sped intae the sea
Whaur wuid ye find ane Ararat, Embro, Embro?
Whaur wuid ye find ane Ararat fae that fell flood tae flee?
If aa the psalms sung in thy kirks, Embro, Embro;
If aa the psalms sung in thy kirks were gaithert in the wynd
T’would shaw the taps o Roslin’s birks, Embro, Embro
T’would shaw the taps o Roslin’s birks till time was oot o mind.
If aa the broken herts o thee, Embro, Embro;
If aa the broken herts o thee were heapit in a howe
There wuid be neither land nor sea, Embro, Embro
There wuid be neither land nor sea, but yon reid brae an thou.
released July 21, 2017
Poem by Lewis Spence
Melody by Ed Miller
Arranged by Lori Watson
Vocals by Lori Watson
Double bass by Duncan Lyall
Recorded and mixed by Duncan Lyall at Red Deer
Mastered by Iain Hutchison at Glo Worm Studios
Keening, yearning, captivating and lovely collection of songs, the sense of close performance all the more remarkable when you learn it was made during Covid lockdown in 2020. The ballads and poems set to music on this album might be hundreds of years old, and while they do have an air of immortal, ancient tradition about them, they sound utterly current. Badzie