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Celtic Christmas returns to Chestnut Creek

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Chestnut Creek Heritage Chapel welcomed back musicians Jil Chambless of Tuscaloosa, Ed Miller, originally from Scotland, and Scooter Muse of Florence for a Celtic Christmas on Dec. 19.

“I love this building,” Chambless said. “I am so glad that they are using this space for all kinds of events.”

The event was one part concert and one part history lesson, as Miller gave a brief history of several of the Scottish songs.

Miller added commentary to the telling that had the audience laughing.

Attendees were encouraged to participate in the event by singing the chorus of many of the songs.

The concert began with a song called “Let the Circle Be Wide,” talking about making rooms for others.

Songs throughout the night featured Gaelic tunes from Scotland and Ireland, songs from England and some more modern songs.

“There are not that many Christmas songs from Scotland,” Miller said.

He explained that during the Reformation in the 16th century, festive things were stopped and discouraged, and it remained this way for a long time.

“The few (traditional Scottish) Christmas songs that we do know tend to come from the Gaelic part of the country, some of the islands in the northwest … that remained Catholic,” Miller said.

As people moved to other places, they took their songs with them. One of these songs is “The Very First Christmas,” which the group performed. Another such song is “The Christ Child’s Lullaby,” which Chambless and Miller said was their favorite of the Christmas songs performed.

Some non-Christmas songs were also performed.

Chambless said “More Than Just a Dram” (a song about making whiskey) was also one of her favorites.

The audience also learned some Gaelic words as Miller and Chambless explained the meaning of some of the words and encouraged everyone to sing along.

“There are about 60,000 people left in the islands that still speak Gaelic,” Miller said. “Everybody speaks English.”

However, Miller demonstrated how the English that Scots speak in a professional setting is much different that than the English they use “on the playground or in the pub” by reading the Christmas story in common Scots English.

Chestnut Creek Heritage Chapel board members provided hot apple cider and other refreshments before the event and during a brief intermission.