Prayers to the Sun by a man in Arisaig, West Coast Scotland

Prayers to the Sun

Arisaig sunrise by Tom Henderson April 2015

Arisaig sunrise by Tom Henderson April 2015

There are not as many prayers to the sun as there are to the moon because, “The sun was a matter to them of great awe, but the moon was a friend of great love, guiding their course upon land and sea, and their path wherever they went.”1

Even so, plenty of blessings have survived, and Carmichael tells us:

“3o8 A’ GHRIAN


Thubhairt an seanchaidh : — Bha duine ann an Àrasaig agus bha e
fuathasach scan, agus bhiodh e ag adhradh do’n ghrein agus do’n ghealaich
agus do na reultaibh. Dar a dh’eireadh a’ ghrian air bharr nam beann
bheireadh e dheth a chomhdach cinn, agus chromadh e sios a cheann,
a’ toir glòir do Dhia mor nan diil air son glòir na greine agus mathas a
solais do chlann nan daoine agus do bheathachaibh an t-saoghail. Dar
a rachadh a’ ghrian fodha sa chuan an iar, bheireadh an seann duine
dheth a rithist a chomhdach cinn, agus chromadh e a cheann gu làr, agus
theireadh e —

Tha mise an dòchas ‘na thràth
Nach cuir Dia mor nan àgh
As domhsa solas nan gràs

Mar tha thusa dha m’fhàgail a nochd.

Bha an seann duine ag ràdh gun d’ionnsaich e sec bho athair agus bho
sheann daoine a’ bhaile dar a bha e ‘na leanabh beag. Bhiodh clann
gun mhodh a’ magadh air Iain, an dùil nach robh e uile gu leir ann,
ach cha leir dhomh fhein gun robh Iain bochd a’ dèanamh dad cearr.




The reciter said : — There was a man in Arasaig, and he was extremely old,
and he would make adoration to the sun and to the moon and to the
stars. When the sun would rise on the tops of the peaks he would put off
his head-covering and he would bow down his head, giving glory to the
great God of life for the glory of the sun and for the goodness of its light
to the children of men and to the animals of the world. When the sun
set in the western ocean the old man would again take off his head-covering,
and he would bow his head to the ground and say —

I am in hope, in its proper time,
That the great and gracious God
Will not put out for me the light of grace
Even as thou dost leave me this night.

The old man said that he had learned this from his father and from the
old men of the village when he was a small child. Mannerless children
would be mocking Iain, thinking that he was not all there, but it is not
clear to me that poor Iain was doing anything wrong.2

In spite of its heavenly associations with God, however, it can be seen that the sun – like the moon – is commonly regarded as being feminine,3 as the prayer [below] indicates. This one always seems very appropriate on particularly sunny days, especially after a lot of dull ones, and should be said in the morning after you get up:

Link to prayer below


1 Carmichael, Carmina Gadelica, 1992, p630.

2 Carmichael, Carmina Gadelica, 1992, p291.

3 The Gaelic words for sun and moon – a’ ghrian and a’ ghealach – are also grammatically feminine. The Indo-European root of a’ ghrian is thought to be *greinâ, meaning ‘warm’. Geal refers to the moon being both white and bright, and so might refer to the moon or silver. See Black, The Gaelic Otherworld, 2005, p570/p606.

Carmina Gadelica

Hymns and Incantations

With Illustrative Notes on Words, Rites, and Customs,

Dying and Obsolete : Orally Collected in the Highlands

and Islands of Scotland

By Alexander Carmichael



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