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Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the LORD.” 2 Kings 22.8

Last night I attended the best concert I can remember. Hosted by the Blas Festival, an annual celebration of Gaelic music, this was a showcase of the most recent edition of the Eliza Ross collection, featuring tunes which were originally composed for the great highland bagpipe. Niece of James MacLeod of Raasay, Eliza Ross was contemporary with resident piper, John MacKay, one of the last to be tutored by the MacCrimmons of Borreraig. So, in this earliest surviving collection of manuscripts we have a link to the legendary exponents and composers of our most quintessential classical music.

Eliza gathered her collection in 1812. Following her departure for India the next year, it lay forgotten for nearly 150 years until it turned up in a second hand bookshop in Edinburgh, having been salvaged from Raasay House which was in a state of dilapidation. Happily both - Raasay House and Eliza's manuscript collection - have been rehabilitated and are being enjoyed by new generations. And, with the Blas Festival moving on to Raasay this very night, the two are being reconciled!

Rediscovering ancient treasures is a thrill. That it can stimulate revival is proved by Hilkiah's momentous revelation during the reign of King Josiah (640-609 BC). The religious revival which followed may not have spared the Jews from invasion and deportation to Babylon but it may have been what sustained them and proved to be the making of the Jewish faith. That faith nurtured Jesus - who fulfilled the Jewish law and is hailed by (a few) Jews and (millions of ) Gentiles alike as Saviour of the world.



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