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Not the same without the music!. A Scots Wedding Service

(Should Madonna have used this ....?)

(Reproduced from the March 1990 copy of Life and Work, The Record of the Church of Scotland. Reproduced by kind permission of the author.)

"What God Hes Buckelt"


Minister at St John's Kirk, Perth, Scotland.

Those who think that the desire to see Scots used and exercised more, resides only in the older generation, or in eccentric parish ministers, will be interested or even dismayed to learn that the request for a Scots wedding service came to me from a young couple in their early 20s.

They wrote to me in February last year suggesting that part of their marriage ceremony should be in their native language: after discussion, we decided on the policy of "going for gold", and this is the result.

Once again, as in the Communion Order published in last April's edition of Life and Work, the debt to William Lorimer, who translated the New Testament into Scots, is gladly acknowledged. The Scripture passages quoted here are directly from Lorimer but more than words alone must be attributed to the man who undertook the massive task of giving Scotland the Gospel story in our own tongue. Lorimer bequeathed us an attitude and a sense of confidence. And, one might add, a sense of purpose.

Having said that, the enterprise of rendering the wedding service into Scots was fairly fraught.

How many times did I have to resist the temptation to use the term "yokit"? an admirable word, for it conveys both the idea of beginning and togetherness. And yet, I felt that metaphors from the life of the land should be restricted, in view of the fact that Aileen and Michael both are young urban Scots.

In the end, a surprising compromise was reached, with the phrase "till daith lowses me". To "lowse" is, of course the opposite of "yokin", and in the context of the vow the promise to love and cherish takes on added weight by the suggestion that this promise is a life-long work which only ceases upon death.

Several key meanings of the wedding rite surfaced by virtue of there being telling Scots expressions with which to register them.

For example, instead of the vagueness of saying: "Marriage is not to be entered upon lightly or unadvisedly", we were able to sharpen the focus by saying: "Tae bide merried ye maun be swack an souple . . . an . . . siccar".

Once again, "swack" connotes energy put to work with a will. "Souple" is a marvellous term meaning "flexible and ready to adapt", and of course "siccar" has an inexhaustible depth to it, as the Concise Scots Dictionary testifies: "Secure, stable, fixed, dependable, reliable, not liable to failure, loyal, steady, sure, prudent, effective, having certainty, having sure mastery". Quite a wealth of meaning for a single word!

Simple words

Again, in Scots we were able to stress how vast a change is effected by a marriage. The leaving of parental protection in order to stretch one's wings was forcibly rendered by the words: "This is the turning-point faan they forhoo the bields . . .", where the word "forhoo" is taken from the world of nature where it betokens the abandoning of a nest by a young bird.

In the vows themselves we were able to underline the earnestness of the promise by a simple word - "sair. This term can mean involving pain, hardship, difficulty and danger", but in this context it also can mean "with intensity, and all one's strength or feeling".

To promise a love which is both "sair" and "eident" is then, obviously, an activity which summons up the deepest resources of determination and endurance. Once again "eident" pertains to effort sustained over a long period without flagging.

These references to effort and work are deliberate, for it is surely wise and good to remember that a marriage just does not happen by itself but requires intense and sustained attention. I was concerned to reinforce that thought, just as I was determined not to lose the romance of the occasion, either.

Without descending to the couthie, which can be a quagmire of emotion (for we Scots are emotional creatures) or a quicksand of sentimentality (for we Scots are also sentimental), we had to have the promise that Aileen and Michael would, in the words I normally use, "give each other the place of honour in their hearts".

I found this phrase totally untranslatable, hence the variation: "Will you mak her/him your peerless lass/lad?"

The last prayer also hints at their relationship being an ongoing and deepening romance: "May they aye win farrer ben till een anither's herts".

Short words

In the preparation of this order I discovered something I had long suspected: in Scots it is the short words which do all the work!

A phrase like "aagate an withoot devaul" may sound quite technical, but it simply means (aa gate) "every direction" and (withoot devaul) "without ceasing".

It is the short words which are deceptive - "mak" for example, or "hand".

The word "gyang" - "to go" - roams off into wider skies and horizons in expressions like "Gyang furth" which carries the idea of moving away from or beyond the confines of a previous situation.

Similarly the word "cry" - which starts off being a "calling" and proceeds to mean "having one's banns proclaimed" as well as "giving a name to".

Time and again, in the wedding service, it is phrases which seem to be brief and businesslike which in fact resonate with complexity.

The wedding service in Scots - like the Communion Order - is meant to stimulate others in the hope that regional versions may be forthcoming.

(Light-hearted note from the Webmaster - you are likely to be able to read, understand and pronounce the following service if you are able to say clearly, and in the correct manner, "It's a braw, bricht, moonlicht nicht the nicht", and "LOCH Ness" rather than "LOCK Ness". However, if you cannot, DO have fun trying! )

Oh, and a WARNING, - please don't try your spelling checker to work on this document - it will crash!    ;^) 

A Scots Wedding Service

Aileen and Michael hiv socht us here tae share this day wie them - this affset o their merried life. An so we've come, fae hyne awa or near at haun, fae different hames and femmilies, tae wish them seil and sain.

Lat's aa be gled an lift a sang tae God.


The Lord said "The Creator made them man and wuman fae the beginnin . . . for that cause sal a man forleit his faither an his mither and haud til his wife, and the twasome will become ae flesh. Sae they are nae mair twa, but een, ae flesh; and what God hes buckelt, man maunna twine."

Aileen, Michael - this is faat brings you here - tae vow that you will haud een till ither come faat may. The vows you tak rax forrit tae the roads you hinna traivelled yet . . . tae the fowk you'll growe tae be faan life his vrocht its chynges . . . tae the bairns you'll hae, gin God gie ye that blissin.

Here's foo the Bible picters for's the length and breadth o siccan vows as yours - "Luve is patientftu; luve is couthie and kind; luve is nane jailous; nane sprosie; nane bowdent wi pride; nane mislaired; nane hame-drauchtit; nane toustie; luve keeps nae nickstick the wrangs it drees; finnds nae pleisur i the ill wark o ithers; is ey liftit up whan truith dings lies; kens ey tae keep a caum souch; is ey sweired tae misdout; ey houps the best; ey bides the warst."

The pledge o luve as stieve as this luve, luve sae eident, is a leal an laistin pledge. Tae be merried, an tae bide merried, ye maun be - the pair of ye - nae swack and souple only, bit siccar tee. So should ye ken noo, either o ye, ony reason for ye nae gyaun farrer: this is the time tae tell it. An should there be some let tae hinner Aileen an Michael fae gettin merried, an somebody kens o't - this is the time tae tell o't.

(Naebody braks braith.)

Lat's pray thegither.

God an Faither, for this day an aa that this day means, we gie thanks tae You. We mind the quine fae Cana that bade Jesus an His kinsfowk tull her waddin feast; we mind foo Jesus set His blissin on their blitheness, and we speir that same blissin noo tae be on Aileen an on Michael.

Lord an Maister, for aa the wyes we growe an traivel forrit; for ilka mairch-dyke o experience, we gie thanks tae You. For aa the days that pinted Aileen and Michael tae this day - for aa the steps that led them tae staun afore You here - we gie You thanks. This is the day their coortin taks a tichter haud an faistens them till een anither; this is the turnin-pint faan they forhoo the bields that they hae kent the lythe o, in order tae gyang furth themsels.

Jesus, King abeen an here aneth, grant faan they tak their vows till een anither, that they may be aefauld and honest nae juist for noo bit aa the time, so that their luve may aye be fae the hert and nae the teeth aleen.
Sae lat it be.


Michael, will you hae this wuman Aileen tae be your wedded wife afore God and the face of cley; an will you mak her your peerless lass first and hinmaist, aagate an withoot devaul?

Michael: I will.

Aileen, will you hae this man Michael tae be your wedded husband afore God and the face of cley; an will you mak him your peerless lad first and hinmaist, aagate and withoot devaul?

Aileen: I will.


I, Michael, tak you, Aileen, tae be my wedded wife; I pledge you, in the sicht o God and aa the fowk that's here, my sair and eident luve; I promise I will haud tae you and look efter you at aa times - weel-aff or in want - dwinin or hale and fere - till daith lowses me. This is my soothfast wird tae you.

I, Aileen, tak you, Michael, tae be my wedded husband; I pledge you, in the sicht o God and aa the fowk that's here, my sair and eident luve; I promise I will haud tae you and look efter you at aa times - weel-aff or in want - dwinin or hale and fere - till daith lowses me. This Is my soothfast wird tae you.


This band is faistened wie a ring (rings). Weer it (them) for joy.

Afore God an his you twa hiv made your vows till een anither. Sae noo it faas tae me tae cry you man and wife in the Name of God the Faither, God the Sin, and God the Holy Spirit.

The Lord bliss ye and keep ye.
The Lord airt ye and gaird ye.
The Lord hap ye wie His peace, this day an ilka day.

Lat's pray thegither.

God oor Faither, Makar o aa things, You mak aathing new. Bliss Aileen and Michael as they mak forrit noo. In their new life gie them the perseverance that will keep them stinch; gie them the closeness nae begeck can blaud.

Gie them, gweed Lord, in their life as een a time tae lauch, an faan they're tried or tested gie them gweed howp in een anither an in their merriage. Help them tae mak their hame a place their friens an neepors feel at hame in.

Help them, gin they hae bairns, tae wise their femmly i the wark an wyes o luve. For aa their hames an femmiles hiv gien them baith, we thank You, Lord; for aa the fowk they've met and kent an learned fae - for their laistin ootreik - we gie You thanks. Help Aileen an Michael, we pray, tae cairry forrit intae days tae come the mense an mainners they hiv already maistered, and help them tee tae chynge an growe thegither, tae learn fae een anither, kind an innerlie an aye forbeirin een anither's fauts for luve, the luve that keeps nae nickstick o the wrangs it drees.

May their delicht an dool alike bring oot the best in them.

May they win throwe their whummles brave an unabasit, an may they aye win farrer ben till een anither's herts. We speir this i the comely Name o Jesus Christ oor Lord.
Sae lat it be.

Oor Faither.

Oor Faither in heiven, hallowt be thy name;
Thy Kingdom come; thy will be dune on the yird, as in heiven.
Gie us oor breid for this incomin day;
Forgie us the wrangs we hae wrocht, as we hae forgien the wrangs we hae dree'd and sey-us-na sairlie, but sauf us frae the Ill Ane.
An thine be the Kingdom, the Glory and the Pooer, noo an forivver.


Grace, mercie and peace fae God the Faither, God the Sin, and God the Holy Spirit, be wie ye this day an ilka day.


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This page was updated - 09 December, 2014