DORIC COL­UMN ROB­BIE SHEP­HERD

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - BOOKSHELF -

O faur’s the aul re­li­gion That keepit kirk an toun? TEMPORA MUTANDUR – J C MILNE

‘Times are cheen­gin’ tae trans­late fae Latin the ti­tle o a favourite poem lamentin on a wye o life fadin awa, an last Sun­day at twa lines cam in­tae ma myn as I wis tae ging fae Sal­va­tion ower a thumm­le­fae o wine tae Dam­na­tion in the depths o de­s­pair ower a gless o Ma­callan fusky.

The mornin star­tit as we roa­dit tae Echt Kirk for the Com­mu­nion Ser­vice an syne, fin speirt gin we micht bide for a fly cup, Esma de­clin’t, nod­din at me that the Dons were playin Celtic in less than an oor an it wis on TV.

Hame than an it wis doon tae the lo­cal bit .... we’ll dra a veil ower at – fower naethin! Hell an Dam­na­tion syne Re­demp­tion for ma sins ment ae mair dram an oot wi ma tail atween ma legs.

Bit back tae Echt Kirk at hid us seein for the first time its fan­toosh re­fur­bish­mint an ye cwidna help bit be im­press’t wi the hale new lay­oot - the aal hard tim­mer pews deen awa wi, new in­di­vid­ual cheers, un­der­fleer heatin, posh lichtin an soun-sys­tem, an aa sae taste­fully dec­o­ratit.

It seem’t tae hae a mair re­lax’t at­mos­phere an even the sma con­gre­ga­tion got tae par­tak o the breid an wine afore the el­ders. Fit a cheenge tae fan my folks gaed throwe the ritual at the same kirk, sae auchty eer syne, wi the el­ders aa in their dick­ies an fite bow ties. Faither ees’t tae say ‘aa spruc’t up like prize rub­bits’.

Ay, as mair seem tae turn their backs on the kirk – I ad­mit I’m gye sweir in at­tendin masel - it’s sad tae read o mony his­toric kirk big­gins up for sale an turn’t in­tae pubs, ho­tels, garages an fit hae ye. JC Milne’s life­span wis fae the eyn o the 19th Cen­tury tae the 1960s, a thirty eer efter I wis born, an ye hae tae shak the pow in win­ner­ment at sic’na rate it’s gaen doon­hill. I’m thinkin noo on anither ver­sie o John C Milne as bales still lie in the parks:

“Ra­then kirk-bell ringin Upon a Sun­day morn: Geodie’s trac­tor sin­gin Roon the clean-land corn”

The bil­lie on the trac­tor ei­dent at’s darg, fin get­tin a tellin-aff neist day fae the preacher, con­ter’t ‘Weel meenis­ter, bet­ter sit­tin on the binder thinkin aboot the kirk than sit­ten in the kirk thinkin aboot the binder’.

Na, a body canna be a Canute in haudin back the waves o progress an look nae far­rer than the Hatches, Matches an Des­patches.

It still brings a lump tae the thrap­ple jist tae see a baptism in the kirk, the wee craiturs weel rig­git oot an the wytin tae see foo they wid re­spond tae the caul wat­ter as the meenis­ter’s fin­ger lans on their hei­dies. As for waddins, in­stead

King o the kirk cer­e­mony, foo mony – as oor ain loon did – miss oot on the bridal march wi the kirk or­gan guidin the prood faither an his dother up the aisle.

Syne cre­ma­tions warna thocht aboot in oor young day an I weel myn on the bod­ies in their coffins lyin at hame in the best room, my dad’s cof­fin haein tae be squeez’t oot o the sma porch bi the pall bear­ers, syne we traiv­ell’t a five hun­ner yairds up the Sooter’s Brae afore takkin the car fae Dunecht tae Echt far baith mum an dad noo lie.

The church his still a vi­tal role tae play bit foo tae con­nec’ fin their wyes dinna seem tae be oor wyes nooa­d­ays?

Tae feen­ish on a lichter note, we’ve hid twa Di­a­mond Waddin An­niver­saries es last feow days, sae con­grat­u­la­tions tae ma brither Harry an Eve­lyn, mair­rit saxty eer syne in the kirk at Tom­intoul an Esma’s sis­ter, Rosa, jyn’t hauns wi John in Cluny Kirk. We’re jist a twa eer ahin an thankfu tae still be wi ye. Bit for the grace o God.

See ye neist wikkeyn.

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