Text: Foirm na n-Urrnuidheadh

The Book of Common Order, the standardized liturgical text for the Reformed Church in Scotland, was translated by John Carswell in 1567 and became the first book to be printed (on a printing press) in any form of Gaelic. This work was done under the patronage of the Earl of Argyll, to whom the book was dedicated. The translation was done into the literary language, Classical Gaelic, rather than a vernacular dialect, in order to make it as accessible to the élite of the pan-Gaelic world.

The following translation of the dedicatory ode within the book was translated by Michael Newton from the edition in Thomson, Foirm na h-Urrnuidheadh, p. 13.

Here is a little poem that Master John Carswell made for this very little book:

§ 1. Go forth on your course, o little book, to Úa Duibhne [Campbell of Argyll], as soon as you are taken off of the printing press: may he enjoy success in his residence.

§ 2. After that, traverse in a careful, refined manner throughout the lands of Scotland, but since there is no need for you there, do not venture a step into the land of the Gall [Lowlander].

§ 3. After that, travel over the ocean wave to the land of Ireland of the generous soil: although the [religious orders of] Brothers think little of you, move westwards within their sight.

§ 4. Every seanchaidh [historian] whose lore is pure, every man of art [i.e., the literati] who does not submit himself to falsehood: form friendship between yourself and them, o little book, to last until death.

§ 5. There is no cause to fear any person of the race of Adam who loves Truth; make your nest amongst those people; go forth, o little book.

About Michael Newton

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