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"Singing of psalms of which I could never get enough" : labouring class religion and poetry in the Cambuslang revival of 1741

Jajdelska, Elspeth (2015) "Singing of psalms of which I could never get enough" : labouring class religion and poetry in the Cambuslang revival of 1741. Studies in Scottish literature, 41 (1). pp. 88-107. ISSN 0039-3770

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Abstract

This article introduces two previously unstudied labouring class poems, and one example of labouring class poetry reading, from eighteenth-century Scotland. Alexander Bilsland, George Tassie and Ann Wylie were participants in the Cambuslang revival of 1741. In the revival’s archive of spiritual narratives, compiled by the minister of Cambuslang, there is one poem by Bilsland, one by Tassie and an account of poetry reading by Wylie. In what follows, I situate these in the culture of popular religious reading and psalm singing at Cambuslang, and argue in favour of the case made by C.R.A. Gribben: that Scottish literary culture and Scottish religious culture were not necessarily in conflict and could be mutually supportive. This case has been successfully advanced in discussions of sixteenth-and seventeenth-century by Gribben, and other contributors to Literature and the Scottish Reformation among others. I aim to extend the case for Calvinism as a force that could, at least sometimes, nourish literature, to eighteenth-century Scotland.