Activity Summary Statement
Tàladh Chrìosda — the “Christ Child Lullaby” — is a beautiful Christmas song traditionally sung at Midnight Mass. The accompanying grammar lesson includes exploring mo versus agam constructs.
The following account comes to us from Raghnaid NicGaraidh, of South Australia, concerning the historical details of this hymn. The song was composed by Fr. Ronald Rankin, who served as parish priest in Moidart in the mid-1800s, as a gift to his parishioners who were immigrating to Australia. It was to be sung by the children as they made their way to Midnight Mass. Many Gaels from Moidart settled between Port Philip, Geelong, and Ballarat (the area immediately west of Melbourne) in the 1840s and 1850s.
Fr. Rankin became the priest at a place called Little River in 1857 and, at the time, it was the only Catholic parish in the district. He started a school there and it became something of a hub for Gaelic speakers in Geeling and the surrounding area — as far as Ballarat — until he died in 1863. Although the parish was growing, a replacement priest couldn’t be found, and the Gaelic speakers scattered throughout western Victoria.
Our thanks to Raghnaid NicGaraidh, and to the descendants of the Moidart emigrants, for maintaining this history.
- Become familiar with possessives and prepositional pronouns derived from aig (i.e. agam, agad, aige, etc.);
- Improve their aural comprehension of Gaelic;
- Improve their spoken Gaelic;
- Enhance memory skills;
- Engage with song and music in an accessible, enjoyable way.
This song is best suited for adults or youth, choirs or soloists of all levels. The mo versus agam grammar lesson is more suited for beginner to intermediate levels. This lesson can be done in person, online, or both.
- Learn the song ahead of time, focusing on learning the melody.
- Listen to the lyrics, giving particular attention to the nuances of the Gaelic language and variable accents. If it helps to break down the Gaelic words into phonetic sounds, do this ahead of time.
- If interested, students may translate the song into English ahead of time, which can then be discussed in class.
- All grammar will be taught in class while learning and singing the song together.
- Printed Gaelic lyrics
- The full version of the song was published in the Gaelic Society of Inverness (1888-89)
- “Tàladh Chrìosda” work sheet
- Spoken pronunciation – Sheena Geiger
- YouTube videos of the songs:
- Grammar sheet Mo versus Agam
- Mo versus Agam table
Lesson Structure (1hr 15min – 1hr 25min)
|5 min||Listen to and sing the song once or twice to warm-up voices, and get the class into a Gaelic participation state of mind.|
|15 min||Go over the song translation together.
Optional: ask students for their translations before giving the instructor’s version.
Lyrics as published in The Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness (1888-89)
|10-20 mins||Identify the first word of the song as “mo,” and ask for the translation (“my”). Ask the students if they’ve heard of another way to say “my” or “have” (“agam”).
Optional interactive activity: Have students race to see who can find all the mo’s in the song the fastest, or which team can find the most mo’s.
Go through the various constructions of possessive pronouns (mo, do, a, a, ar, ur, an or am) and prepositional pronouns featuring aig (agam, agad, aige, aice, againn, agaibh, aca). Go over an example of each with the class.
|Mo versus Agam table|
|15 mins||Give students exercises to do individually or in pairs. Go over the answers together as a group.||Grammar sheet Mo versus Agam|
|20 mins||Wrap up by singing the song together as a group.|
- Ask students if they can identify the rhyme scheme in the song.
- Grammar review of mo versus agam conjugations. Have students create a song, rap, dance, or poetry to remember the correct order of the conjugations. If there isn’t enough time, this can be done as homework, then presented in class. The sillier the better for memorization purposes.
- An interesting variation could be to introduce bhuam, bhuat, etc. (bhuam = lit. from me = I don’t have = I want).
Preparing for Challenges
- Problem: No wifi to download the songs.
- Solution: load the songs on YouTube ahead of time, then do not let the recording get to the very end of the song so that it needs to reload. Drag and drop the play bar from the end back to the beginning to get around the no wifi problem.
- Ensure that speakers are loud enough for the entire class to hear. This may require using external speakers rather than built-in computer speakers.