November 1909: “Scottish Song – Local Sangschaws Wanted” – Letter from John Wilson, Hon. Secretary of the Scottish National Song Society, to the Editor of ‘The Northern Scot and Moray & Nairn Express’

A letter from John Wilson, Hon. Secretary, Scottish National Song Society, 83 Jamaica Street, Glasgow, to the editor of

The Northern Scot and Moray & Nairn Express, on page four, on Saturday the 20th of November, 1909, reads:





83 Jamaica Street, Glasgow,

16th November, 1909.


DEAR SIR. – I was exceedingly pleased to read the able article by Mr James Thomson on ‘The Auld Scots Sangs,’ and I beg to

thank him for it.


I have been looking over your paper of the 6th November, and I find that in Forres the position of the Choral Society is not at

all satisfactory, and the question of continuing it during the winter months was discussed. Also that at Grantown-on-Spey a

Choral Society has been inaugurated. From these and other items of news throughout the paper I infer that the musical spirit

is strong in every part of the North; but why should all this energy be put out solely on choral music to the neglect of national

music and song?


It is not, I am sure, because Scottish song does not offer a sufficient field for the musical genius of our people. Those who want

to go from our lyrics to larger fields might take up the study of McCunn’s ‘Cameronian’s Dream’ or ‘The Land of the Mountain

and the Flood,’ or some of Sir Alexander Mackenzie’s Scottish pieces; and there are others.


But apart altogether from the study of the music, our Society offers a much more interesting field than that of simply the

pleasure of studying and singing a musical piece. There is a field of usefulness in the efforts of our members. Prizes are given and

competitions held once a year for not only singing, but violin playing, reciting, and other kindred subjects.


I would like, therefore, if some of your musical readers would look at the Society from a broad point of view, and make an effort to

start a branch in any town in the North. I will be glad to send them all particulars. We have already centres in Aberdeen and Dundee,

but I feel sure that it is in the smaller towns the influence of the Society would he most felt, and where it would prove a veritable

blessing to the people. It would afford them amusement on the winter nights, and instruction, and surely it is a very nice thing when

we can offer instruction and amusement hand in hand.


I hope, therefore, that some of your readers will communicate with me, and see whether we cannot start a few branches in your district.

Some young man might offer his services as secretary, which is the most important office to be filled, and to one having the necessary

time it is a pleasant office, and the thanks of the community are always accorded to a hard working secretary, and he is looked up to by

all self-respecting people. I trust, therefore, that this letter will draw forth some replies, and that we may get to work as early as

possible.—Yours faithfully,



Hon. Secretary, Scottish National Song Society.”



The British Newspaper Archive.


George Fairfull-Smith, April 2023.