The Lost Words Blessing

The Bird Sings Oral Tradition Song Library

The Lost Words Blessing

Composer & Copyright

Original song by Julie Fowlis, Karine Polwart, Seckou Keita, Kris Drever, Rachel Newton, Beth Porter, Jim Molyneux, Kerry Andrew.

Recording

Lyrics

Enter the wild with care, my love
And speak the things you see
Let new names take and root and thrive and grow
And even as you travel far from heather, crag and river
May you like the little fisher, set the stream alight with glitter
May you enter now as otter without falter into water

Look to the sky with care, my love
And speak the things you see
Let new names take and root and thrive and grow
And even as you journey on past dying stars exploding
Like the gilded one in flight, leave your little gifts of light
And in the dead of night my darling,
find the gleaming eye of starling
Like the little aviator, sing your heart to all dark matter

Walk through the world with care, my love
And sing the things you see
Let new names take and root and thrive and grow
And even as you stumble through machair sands eroding
Let the fern unfurl your grieving, let the heron still your breathing
Let the selkie swim you deeper, oh my little silver-seeker
Even as the hour grows bleaker, be the singer and the speaker
And in city and in forest, let the larks become your chorus
And when every hope is gone, let the raven call you home

More About This Song

In 2018, Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris produced a book called The Lost Words Spells. The prompt of the book was the editing of the ‘Oxford Junior Dictionary’ in recent years. The junior edition of the Oxford Dictionary is aimed at readers ages seven and up and since 2007 the editors have removed from the book many words used to denote/describe things of nature– some of them relatively common words, such as: acorn, bluebell, ivy, fern, moss, blackberry, dandelion, lark, raven, heron, starling, hazel, heather, goldfinch, grey seal, otter and kingfisher.

The editing body of the OED had determined that the words were of little and lessening use to the modern child. Youngsters weren’t hob-nobbing with hedgehogs and wrens (also excised) and frogs and buttercups (another casualty!), and so needn’t be introduced to words that served well only with regards to the out-of-doors. They excused their actions on the grounds that they needed room for other, newer words with greater relevance to the modern child. Like: attachment, blog, broadband, chatroom, database, committee, and voice-mail.

In 2015, authors Margaret Atwood, Helen Macdonald, and Macfarlane, among other novelists and nature writers, expressed their dismay in an open letter to Oxford University Press. “Childhood is undergoing profound change; some of this is negative; and the rapid decline in children’s connections to nature is a major problem,” they wrote.

This song, The Lost Words Blessing was written in Scottish Gaelic folkloric form by a group of European musicians – Julie Fowlis, Karine Polwart, Seckou Keita, Kris Drever, Rachel Newton, Beth Porter, Jim Molyneux, Kerry Andrew. The form is inspired by blessings in Scottish Gaelic, particularly from a beautiful collection of charms and incantations called Carmina Gadelica. It is offered both in hope and light, and in grief for the losses yet to come.

Teaching Notes

Coming soon!

10

Level of teaching speed/ difficulty (1 = very easy, 10 = very challenging)

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1 Comment
  • Michal Raz Shahar

    Soooo beautiful

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