Emily Goes to Church, 1919

From Emily Macdonald’s Twenty Years of Highland Memories (1939).  Before Emily was married to Dolly Doctor, she stayed at Uig Lodge as a guest of her uncle, Lord Leverhulme, along with other guests.

One Sunday Mrs Strang and I decided we would like to go to the local church and hear a real Gaelic service.  Owing to domestic arrangements at the Lodge, we realised that we were half an hour late, but intended to slip in quietly at the back, as one could do in the south.  What we did not realise was that the villagers kept “God’s time” as distinct from “Lloyd George’s”, as summer time was called, and we were an hour and half late, and arrived in the middle of the sermon!  The Elder who met us at the door would have none of our “slipping in at the back” and led us with ceremony right up to the box pew under the pulpit, while the sermon ceased until we were settled.  It was a most trying moment, and I don’t think that ever before had I felt so dress-conscious.  I had on a bright blue Harris tweed costume, and every one of the congregations was dressed in deepest black or dark navy blue!  The Gaelic sermon finished, the minister very considerately gave us a little one to ourselves in English, and I remember that owing to his Highland accent and intonation, it sounded nearly as strange to our ears as the Gaelic one.  Then, after a final psalm sung unaccompanied, we all filed out on to the moorland road overlooking the bay, and went our several ways home.  Some of the congregation had come six or seven miles for the service, and this they would do Sunday after Sunday, in sunshine and in storm, to lift up their hearts and voices within sight of the everlasting hills, and to the accompaniment of the sea wind sighing round the little church.