Collections: Frances Wilkins - The EVIA Digital Archive Project

Music Performance in Scottish Evangelicalism, 2005-2008 (2005-2006)

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North of Scotland Gospel Male Voice Choir, Buckie, 2007. Image © Frances Wilkins.

This collection comprises video footage of gospel music events taking place during fieldwork in North-East Scotland from 2005 to 2008. These events were documented as part of a wider PhD research project into sacred singing traditions in fishing communities along the coast between Aberdeen and Wick, and in the Orkney and Shetland Islands. Many of the members of fishing communities in this region are members of evangelical Christian denominations such as the Baptist Church, Assemblies of God, Salvation Army, and the Brethren (Open, Exclusive and Churches of God) in addition to a number of independent congregations. These denominations have been dominant in the region since the Great Awakening of 1859-60 and subsequent revivals in the area including the 1874 visit of Dwight L Moody and Ira D Sankey. This visit resulted in the introduction of organ accompaniment in worship and a new gospel song repertoire which could be found in Sankey's Sacred Songs and Solos collection and the Redemption Songs hymn book.

The ethnographic films which comprise this collection provide a cross-section of some of the events in the region in which gospel singing and instrumental music are fundamental features. The collection includes the following:

  • A lecture on the life and work of Dwight L Moody and Ira D Sankey in North-East Scotland in 1874 dispersed by singing from the congregation of traditional gospel songs. This is held in Dyce parish church, just outside Aberdeen City, and is led by an elder of the Church of Scotland, Raymond Mack and the organist Tom Fobister who are both from Aberdeen. The event was held on November 2, 2005. The footage includes congregational singing, prayer, and address and lasts roughly two hours.

  • An annual flute band walk in the coastal villages of Inverallochy and Cairnbulg, situated a few miles from the town of Fraserburgh in December 2005. The origins of this event date back to the temperance movement which started in the 1840s. It is attended by numerous members of the local population and includes a group playing evangelical hymn tunes on small wooden flutes, drummers, a band leader and pedestrians following behind.

  • Gospel sing-along event which took place in an Open Brethren hall in Torry, a residential area of Aberdeen. The event featured congregation, solo and duet singing with preaching, Bible readings and prayers, and took place in May 2006.

  • Anniversary celebrations of the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen in St Fitticks Parish Church, Aberdeen. The event included choral singing from the North of Scotland Gospel Male Voice Choir and St Fitticks Youth Choir, and includes Bible readings, prayers and sermon.

This collection has not yet been peer reviewed but it is available online in the EVIA Project Archive.

Image © Frances Wilkins

Frances Wilkins is Lecturer in Ethnomusicology at the Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen. Her research interests include Scottish and North American fiddle music and sacred singing traditions, English concertina performance, and traditional music education and transmission. She has conducted extensive field-based research into Scottish musical traditions, and since 2011 has been researching and recording the historical connections between Scottish and Cree fiddle music in the James Bay area of Canada.

She has written articles and book chapters on her research including her latest journal article, 'The Fiddlers of James Bay: Transatlantic Flows and Musical Indigenisation among the James Bay Cree' in MUSICultures Vol 40/1 (2013). She has been guest editor for academic publications including the peer-reviewed MUSICultures and Musiké journals, and is website reviews editor for the world of music (new series) journal of ethnomusicology.

At the University of Aberdeen, she teaches courses in Scottish traditional music, Ethnomusicology, World Music, and Soundscapes Studies. She maintains close links with the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Rostock in Germany, where she worked as a guest 'Eurolecturer' and researcher (funded by the Toepfer Foundation), in collaboration with Dr Barbara Alge, from 2010-2011.

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