Notes to 'Lioar dy Hymnen' (Book of Hymns)

This was the final Manx Language Methodist Hymn Book - published in 1846 by Mary Ann Quiggin; my copy has a dedication to the Rev J T Clarke for 'revising these hymns and correcting the proofs'.

This page gives some notes on this, its predecessors and on their connection with Wesley's Hymns. Very little work would appear to have been done on these Manx Language Hymns - F. Bazin in her 'The Manx and their Music' (admittedly written for a young readership) describes them thus: 'The Manx were keen singers and John Wesley's enthusiasm for music helped attracted people to Methodism. Hymn singing was important and people were encouraged to use tunes with which they were already familiar'. She continues by stating that in early days Methodists held their services in the parish churches - for which however there is little evidence, Bishops pre Crigan were anti-Methodist and John Wesley in his diary notes that although some vicars were sympathetic, they were forbidden by the Bishop to help him. Certainly by the early 1790's all parishes had a Meeting place or chapel. However in her paper 'The Role and Status of Musicians' she argues that Methodist Chapel had retained later into the 19th Century the Psalmody that had died out in the parish Churches.

Previous Manx Language Methodist Hymn Books

Possibly the Methodists arrived a generation too late to save the Manx Language in the way that the Welsh Calvinist Methodists provided a home for Welsh. Certainly the Manx language had its brief flowering during the last quarter century of the 18th century; even though Wesley had depreciated the use of Manx, a small committee produced a very acceptable translation of many of Wesley's and Watt's hymns.

The entries from the 'Manx Conference Minutes' [MM MD10097] make interesting reading:


Question How are we to act with respect to the introduction of New Manx Hymns amongst us for the future

Answer: have number and page announced

Q: Have we been diligent in learning our People to sing English Hymns

A No it hath been disregarded. How shall we proceed to amend this. Let an English hymn or part of one, be sung in every Manx class


Q: As our printed Manx Hymn book is grown old among our people what shall we do in this case to revive their minds

A it is agreed that a Manks H B shall be printed, if there should be any gain it shall go to the use of this circuit. If any loss the circuit shall make it up

It is worth quoting Cubbon [Bibliography section H240 pp792/4]:

A / Collection / of / Hymns. / Translated into Manks from the late Reverend / Mr Wesley’s Books ; / and approved of by a Committee chosen at a Conference held between the / English and Manks Preachers. /

Douglas : Printed by Christopher Briscoe 1795. pp. 152. 165x97.

This is the second issue of a Manx hymn book : now exceedingly scarce. There is a preface consisting of two PP. It is interesting to quote from this the following sentences : ‘ It seems that the writer of these hymns has seen it necessary to translate some words from the commonest way they are written. . . . I do not think that this little alteration will do much harm, because there is no rule for the Manks to bind us to the one or the other. Several of the hymns at the end of the book have been taken from the hymns of D. Cowley, because his books have grown scarce’ At the head of p. 114 these words appear in italics : ‘The Hymns which follow [39 being no.s 108-146] are taken from D. Cowley’s Book.’

Daniel Cowley was a protégé of Bishop Hildesley.

D. Cowley’s Book is a typographical mystery : apart from the above-quoted words there is no record of it.

¶ 165 x 97. Belonged originally to John Kewley 12th May, 1797. Pp. 147-150 had been missing and is written in MS. This is the only copy the compiler of this work has seen..

This is the edition authorised by the conference in 1794. Harrison (and Cubbon) are critical of its poor proof reading etc. - several hymns are misnumbered (e.g. there are two no. 99's) and there are no sections but there is a Contents page (heading to which is 'Contents' in English). However the earlier book mentioned in 1788 seems to be a bit of a mystery - Cubbon would not appear to have seen it yet the first two Manx Hymn books were described by Wm. Harrison as "badly printed, and abounded in errors" - the quote from Manx Conference Minutes indicates that there was one prior to the 1795 collection. Feltham [Letter 5] in 1797/8 makes reference to Daniel Cowley (though conceivably to the 1795 edition) in talking of a work by Hildesley he says

[it] was translated into Manks by Daniel Cowley, of Kirk Michael, who was educated by Bishop Hildesley, and by him apprenticed to a printer. He published also Mr. Wesley's Hymns in Manks, for the use of the Methodists in the Island.

The third Manx Hymn Book, printed by Thomas Whittam, 1799, Harrison describe as "beautifully translated" - again quoting from Cubbon:

Lioar / dy / Hymnyn / as / Arraneyn Spyrrydoil, Chyndait gys Gailck, veih Lioaryn / Wesley as Watts &c. / Son ymmyd Creesteenyn. / . . . [Book Hymns and Spiritual Songs translated, into Gaelic from the Books of Wesley and Watts, &c.]

Doolish : Prentit liorish T. Whittam. 1799. Pp. 184.

This is the third known printed collection of hymns, and shows a marked improvement in correctness and also in the Printing. The printer was an apprentice with the Briscoe’s, and his parents lived in Douglas. Thomas Whittam is buried at Kirk Braddan.

The 1799 book has the National Anthem (No. clxii), the only edition that contains it. There are 6 vs.

In G. F. Clucas’s copy 660, there is in MS. a copy of the articles of agreement between Thomas Whittam, the printer, and a committee chosen by a conference between the English and Manks preachers, viz., John Caine, Wm. Faragher, and Thos. Cowley, for the printing of this hymn book. The printer was to print 2,000 copies of 180 pages to contain 176 hymns ; to ‘carry on’ the work of printing regularly’; ‘ to take no other work except his custom work, that is to say particularly the Castle work and the Custom House work and advertisements as may require during the time of printing the said Hymns and to fold and stitch the books.’ The committee was to give £20 for the books and to find the paper to print them.

Copies of this 1799 edition, when found, generally show that they were well used. Collating the first lines of the 1796 and 1799 editions indicates that the later edition placed new translations at the head of each section and then almost invariably copied from the 1796 edition those hymns appropriate to the section, retaining the order of the 1796 edition. Some 28 hymns appear to have been dropped, of which 17 were of the 39 indicated as translated by Cowley though some of these missing hymns were added back into the 1830 edition.

The next edition was by John Quiggin containing 215 Hymns - for some reason Harrison does not include it in his bibliography

Lioar dy / Hymnyn / as / Arraneyn Spyrrydoil, / chyndait gys Gailck, / veih Lioaryn / Wesley as Watts, &c. . [Book of Hymns and Spiritual Songs translated into Manks from the Books of Wesley and Watts. &c.

Doolish : Prentit liorish J. Quiggin. 1833 PP 186. 145x85.

One hymn, No. 150, is headed ‘ originally composed in Manks.’ [Cubbon appears not to have noticed that the same hymn, though not this note, appears in the 1799 edition (and possibly earlier ?)]

In the ‘Manx Sun’ of 29th March, 1831, there is an advt. stating that in the latter end of March 1831 would be ‘ published, price 2/-, the Manx Hymn Book with a supplement containing 40 hymns translated by Mr. George Killey. The supplement will also contain a number of hymns which did not appear in the edition published in 1799. It has been carefully revised by two Manxmen of ability.’ Anyone in possession of good translations were asked to send them in to the editor. In a later advt. in the ‘Manx Sun,’ 25th Dec. 1832, it is stated that Killey’s 40 hymns were expressly translated for this edition.

My copy is dated 1830 so not sure if Cubbon's 1833 is an error or a second printing.

The final edition was that of Mary Quiggin (widow of John Quiggin)

Lioar / dy / Hymnyn / as Arraneyn Spyrrydoil, chyndait gys Gailck / veih lioaryn / Wesley as Watts, &c. . .

Doolish : Prentit liorish M. A. Quiggin. 1846. Pp. 191. 149x87

It contains 221 hymns, some of which Harrison states were translated by Cretney. It is well printed. Copies are scarce.

There is also a note in Cubbon that the Manx Museum possesses a manuscript "The Hymn book of John Keig of Erystein" which contains 'a considerable number of the hymns of Wesley, Watts and other writers'; Cubbon dates this to the early part of the 19th Century. Bazin also mentions a MS, in her possession, by Edward Quayle of Kerrowkeil and Castletown, dated 1848, which contains 276 hymns, psalms, chants and anthems. Maddrell discusses an another MS with apparently strong Methodist connections, MM MS 437A, which was, wrongly in his argument, associated with the Part Books of Shepherd's music, but should instead be associated with William Duke's (a pupil and later successor of Shepherd) choir at Balladoole chapel.


The full index shows which Hymns were in the 1799 edition and this edition, as well as their corresponding number in Wesley's Hymns ('A Collection of Hymns ... with Supplement' - NB the numbering and order in the later Methodist Hymn Book differs from these). The classification and ordering of hymns in Wesley's Hymn Book of 1790 is worthy of note - the Lioar dy Hymnen both in 1799, and taken over into 1830/1846, adopted a similar though somewhat modified arrangement - the 1796 edition did not adopt such a division and had the hymns in a different order. The 1799 had 16 sections, most of which correspond to Wesley's sections - however the arrangement of Hymns differs and other hymns, mostly by Watts, are slotted in.

I Cuirrey Peccee dy hyndaa gys Jee (Exhorting Sinners to return to God )
II Aalid Craueeaght (Beauty of Religion)
III Mieys Jee (Goodness of God)
IV Baase. (Death)
V Briwnys. (Judgement)
VI Niau.(Heaven)
VII Niurin (Hell)
VIII Arrys (Repentance)
IX Shirrey son Jee (Seeking God)
X Goaill Boggey (taking Joy)
XI Prayll (Prayer -
Cregeen's 'mogrel' word !))
XII Caggey (Fighting)
XIII Watchal (Watching - word not in Cregeen)
XIV Surranse (Suffering)
XV Saualtys (Salvation)
XVI Son sheshaght ny nooghyn (For the company of Saints)
XVII Son caghlaaghyn oyr (For changes) - not in 1799

Then followed a section of occasional pieces for:


References & Bibliography

Wesley's Hymns:

B. L. Manning The Hymns of Wesley and Watts London:Epworth Press 1942 - an outstanding set of five essays - worth reading for the beautiful use of the English language if for no other reason.

B. Beck Rattenbury Revisited. The Theology of Charles Wesley's Hymns Epworth Review 26 #2 pp71/81 April 1999

J. E. Rattenbury The Evangelical Doctrines of Charles Wesley's Hymns London:Epworth Press 1941

J. E. Rattenbury The Eucharistic Hymns of John and Charles Wesley London:Epworth Press 1948

J. T. Lightwood The Music of the Methodist Hymn-Book London: Epworth Press 1935 (2nd ed 1938, 3rd ed 1950)

Manx Church Music:

F. Bazin Much inclin'd to Music. The Manx and their Music before 1918 Douglas: Manx Heritage Foundation (ISBN 0-952-40193-2) 1997

F. Bazin The Role and Status of Musician in the Isle of Man 1800-1860
Proc IoMNH&ASoc X #3 pp179/199 1996

J. E. Madrell Early Nineteenth Century Popular Psalmody in the Isle of Man: A Preliminary Study
Proc IoMNH&ASoc X #2 pp55/63 1994



Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 1999