Nevis Carol Commissions

Towards the end of 2020, Nevis commissioned two composers and two writers to produce new carols, that were recorded in Glasgow in early December and broadcast on Christmas Day. The composers were selected following a Call for Composers (one strand for under 18s, and one Open), which received 200 entries from around the world.

Ailie Robertson and Harry Baines were chosen as the composers, with Stuart Paterson commissioned to write a new Scots language text (A Blythe Yule), and Marcas Mac an Tuairneir to write a new Scots Gaelic text (An Dùbhlachd).

A Blythe Yule

Nevis Ensemble
Conductor: Holly Mathieson
Mezzo soprano: Andrea Baker

Music: Harry Baines
Text: Stuart Paterson

Audio: Andrew Forbes
Video: Arms & Legs

A Blythe Yule

The auld year’s near by noo
There’s snaw in the wind
The nichts are gey short
An are fair drawin in
But dinnae feel scunnert
No dinnae feel doon
Luik furrit tae Yule
When we aw gaither roon.

A licht in the windae
Fir thon we haud dear,
The anes wha are wi us
An thon no sae near.
We’ll keep yon licht bleezin
In hearth an in hairt
Fir when we’re thegither
An no far apairt.

It’s no aye the best time
Fir folk on their ain
Sae send aff a caird
An a mindin tae thaim
It’s no whit ye get
Oh it’s whit ye can gie
There’s aye room fir ane mair gift
Unner the tree.


It’s time tae be eatin
An drinkin an cantie
It’s time fir mince pies
An a wee nip o brandy
It’s time when the weather
Is dreich an it’s snell
An wha kens, ye micht hear
The jinglin o bells.


It’s time tae luik furrit
Tae faimily an hame
The pleisure o giein
The laughter o weans
There micht be surprises
Micht even be snaw
Tae aw a Blythe Yule
An a Blythe Yule tae aw.

© Stuart Paterson 2020

15-year old Harry Baines is a pupil at Balfron High School near Stirling, and studies at the Junior Conservatoire at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland under Nicholas Olsen. He is hoping to study composition, enjoys writing film music, and is inspired by Scottish traditional music.

For this project, Harry was mentored by leading Scottish composer Stuart MacRae.

Stuart Paterson is a Scottish poet widely published in newspapers and magazines at home and abroad. He has had work published in many anthologies, including Scotia Nova: poems for the early days of a better nation and Dream State: the new Scottish poets.

In 2017, he was appointed BBC Scotland Poet in Residence, and was named ‘Scots Writer o the Year’ at the Scots Language Awards in 2020.

An Dùbhlachd

Nevis Ensemble
Conductor: Holly Mathieson
Alto saxophone: Richard Scholfield
Speaker: Marcas Mac an Tuairneir

Music: Ailie Robertson
Text: Marcas Mac an Tuairneir

Audio: Andrew Forbes
Video: Arms & Legs

An Dùbhlachd

Tha an t-sràid a-nis cho sàmhach
fo sgàil na Dùbhlachd ciùin’
is do shùilean a’ bioradh m’ aire,
thusa crùbte air an fhàd-bhuinn.

Tha thu ’g èigheachd gus m’ aire ghlèidheadh,
ach chan eil freagairt dhut nam bheul
agus an teanntachd air mo bhilean,
mar a thugar air ar saoghal.

Nan cuirinn mo làmh-sa na mo phòca,
cha bhiodh agam dhut ach sgillinn ruadh,
chan eil ach teanntachd seo
nam bhroinn ‘s nam sgamhain
’s mi gun ach dùrachd dhut nam shnuadh.

Tha mi coimhead a-mach tron uinneig,
fo sgàil na Dùbhlachd bàtht’
is mo chuimhne air do choltas,
a leanas mi anns gach àit’.

Tha mi ’saoilsinn an d’ fhuair thu dìnnear,
no bheil do bhrù de bhiadh-bheatha gann,
agus an teanntachd thugar oirnne,
gun diù am mair thu fiù ’s tron là.

Tha mi air bhith diùltadh an fhòin-làimhe,
chan eil leamsa ach sgillinn ruadh,
chan eil ach teanntachd seo
nam chridhe ’s nam inntinn,
oir ’s e ’n aon àireamh nì mo ruaig.

Nuair thig briseadh là na Nollaig,
is grian a’ Gheamhraidh ro mo shùil,
’s e mo lèirsinn thèid a dhalladh,
le gilead bhleideagan fuar.

Bidh mi taingeil dhe taigh is teine,
a chumas rium-sa blàths na ràithe,
dh’aindeoin teanntachd anns an sgìre,
air cuideachd chòir is mi nì faire.

’S e an Dùbhlachd thug orm fhaicinn
luach mo bheatha gun sgillinn ruadh,
dh’aindeoin an teanntachd seo,
ar dìth, ar n-èislean,
sireamaid dòchas bliadhna ùir’.

© Marcas Mac an Tuairneir 2020

The Depths of Winter

The street is swathed in silence,
under the veil of a mild December
and your eyes prick my conscience,
as you huddle in the doorway.

You call out to me, for my attention,
but my mouth has no answer for you,
and my lips can only tighten
with stringency imposed upon our world.

If I placed my hand inside my pocket,
all I’d have for you is my own poverty,
only tension here,
in my body and my lungs,
and my expression of goodwill.

I look out of the window,
under the veil of a sodden December,
and I remember your face,
which follows me in every place.

I wonder if you even got a dinner,
or if your belly is empty of daily bread,
and this severity brought upon is,
without a care if you will last the day.

I’ve been avoiding the mobile,
I am down to my last penny,
only tension here
In my heart and mind,
because the same number hunts me down.

When Christmas dawn breaks,
and the winter sun before my eyes,
my vision will be blinded
by the whiteness of the frozen flakes.

I will be thankful for home and hearth,
that affords me seasonal cheer,
despite the austerity in my locality
I will watch out for those I hold dear.

The depths of winter have made me see
that there is worth still in a poor life,
despite this stringency,
our need, our sorrow,
let’s seek the promise of a new year.

Ailie is a multi-award winning composer, performer and creative curator whose work crosses the boundaries of traditional and contemporary music, and was winner of the ‘Achievement in New Music’ prize at the New Music Scotland Awards. Recent commissions include pieces for the 2019 BBC Proms, The London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sound Festival, the Riot Ensemble, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Bang on a Can, the Dunedin Consort, and the Glasgow School of Art Choir.

She is currently Composer-in-Residence for sound Scotland and Glyndebourne Opera.

Marcas writes poetry, prose, drama and journalism, in Gaelic and English.

He has two full collections in print: Deò and Lus na Tùise (Lavender). Marcas’ poetry has been published in various journals and short-listed for several poetry prizes including Duais Filíochta Dhúbhglas de hÍde and Comórtas Filíochta an Chornéil Eoghain Uí Néill. In 2017 he won the Wigtown Book Festival prize for Gaelic Poetry. 

​He was named Comhairle nan Leabhraichean and Playwright’s Studio Scotland’s ‘New Gaelic Playwright’ in 2016.