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The Sound of 16th Century Dunfermline

The Sounds of over 500 years ago comes to life in the Abbey on the evening of Sunday 21st November, after the city`s Christmas Lights have been switched on.

To mark the 450th anniversary of the Scottish Reformation of 1560, the Abbey will be filled with voices from those dramatic times: the gorgeous choral music of Dunfermline composer Jhone Angus (1515-1596) will be sung by Sang Scule, interspersed with the fiery words of the burgh`s first protestant minister, David Fergusson, and the passionate spiritual poetry of Elizabeth Melville, Lady Culross, read by the concert organiser, Dr Jamie Reid Baxter.



JHONE ANGUS was a Benedictine monk and master of music at the Abbey until the Reformation. In the mid-1560s, at the request of his friend Thomas Wode, a former monk of Lindores Abbey, Angus made fourteen choral settings of a range of religious texts in metre for the new Reformed Kirk of Scotland, ranging from a Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis to impassioned prayers for peace. Most these works have been specially edited for performance in 2010, and some will be receiving their first-ever modern performances on 21st November. Thomas Wode described his friend as "gude and meike Jhone Angus", and the music is indeed of great sweetness and loveliness. Sang Scule are proud to be bringing Dunfermline`s Renaissance composer home to his own kirk after so many centuries. Angus`s works will be sung in Scots, as they would have been in his own day.

Broad Scots was also the language used by the redoubtable DAVID FERGUSSON for his thunderous publications in defence of the rights of the Kirk, excerpts from which will be read. But Fergusson also assembled the first-ever collection of Scots proverbs, and a selection of these pithy and entertaining monuments to popular wisdom will be heard on 21st November.

From the generation after Angus and Fergusson is the Scots-language poet ELIZABETH MELVILLE, Lady Culross. Long forgotten, she is now recognised as a major woman writer. Melville was born at Halhill Tower, Collessie - near Monimail - but she lived at West Comrie and worshipped at Culross Abbey. It is more than likely that in her youth, she knew both Jhone Angus and David Fergusson. Actively committed to defending the rights of the Kirk against government interference, she wrote and published impressive spiritual poetry. Four of the beautiful, mystical lyrics she wrote to be sung to popular tunes of the day will be heard, with harpsichord accompaniment.

Jhone Angus`s music is all preserved in a single source: Thomas Wode`s Psalter, copied in St Andrews between 1562 and 1592. Information about Thomas Wode and images from his lavishly illuminated Psalter, as well as more details about Jhone Angus (under "Associated Events") can be found at the link below


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