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This is a pibroch poem on Book Four of the Old Testament Psalms, linking the tragedy of the sinking of the Iolaire in the early hours of January 1st, 1919, with the human stories of the Bible and the Isle of Lewis. The poetry dialogues playfully and seriously with the calvinism of the day, and the way we explain a tragedy. The poetry is in the shape of a pibroch, a ground based on the ‘dust’ of Psalm 90, and variations which lead with an increasing pulse to hope and new life.
“There could be no more fitting tribute for the lost ones of the Iolaire than a work rooted in both the knowledge and rhythms of the psalms which played such a major part of their daily lives. Jock Stein, poet, preacher and piper, has provided us with an extraordinary series of verses that draw upon his knowledge not only of the Bible but his awareness, too, of the piping tradition that is central to much of the Gaelic world. Together with his translator, Myles Campbell, he should be congratulated for gifting us this work. It is true to the realities of the men and women who lived in Lewis and Harris both during the early years of the twentieth century and many decades afterwards as well as the sad, untimely end of those who were aboard the vessel that terrible and unforgettable night.”
“Cha b’ urrainn cuimhneachan na b’ fheàrr a bhith ann dhaibhsan a chailleadh air An Iolaire na an obair seo a tha freumhaichte ann an eòlas air na sailm agus an ruitheaman, sailm a bha nam pàirt cho mòr de am beatha làitheil. Tha Jock Stein, bàrd, searmonaiche agus pìopaire, air sreath de rannan iongantach a thoirt dhuinn a tha a’ tarraing air an eòlas a th’ aige air a’ Bhìoball ach cuideachd air an fhiosrachadh a th’ aige air dualchas na pìobaireachd a tha cho cudromach do shaoghal na Gàidhlig. Còmhla ri Maoilios Caimbeul, a dh’eadar-theangaich na dàin, bu chòir dhuinn meal-a-naidheachd a chur air airson an obair seo a thoirt dhuinn. Tha e a’ toirt dealbh fhìor dhuinn air na thachair do na fireannaich agus na boireanaich a bha beò sna Hearadh agus ann an Leòdhas tràth san fhicheadamh linn agus airson deicheadan às dèidh sin, agus cuideachd an deireadh doilgheasach, an-abaich a thàinig orrasan a bha air bòrd an t-soithich air an oidhche uabhasach ud nach tèid air dhìochuimhne gu bràth.”