The Dalmeny Stones

Brass Band with or without SATB choir

Dalmeny Kirk imageThis is a setting either for brass band alone, or for SATB choir and brass band, of 6 pieces inspired by Dalmeny Kirk near Edinburgh, and the stonework around its south doorway. The movements are Procession; Plainsong; The King; Manticore; Agnus Dei; Terrebolen; Procession (reprise)

While the titles of most of the movements are explanatory, a little explanation of some others may be of interest.  The carvings round the doorway have images of a King and of the Lamb of God, or Agnus Dei.  But there are also some of more mythical creatures including the Manticore, a frecious beast which has a lion's body, the face of a man, a triple row of teeth, and the tail of a scorpion!  The fourth movement presents a musical picture of this.

The sixth movement is Terrebolen (or Fire Stones).  These stones are said to be male and female, and when apart, are perfectly safe. When they come together, however, fire is kindled with destructive results.  Musically, there is a contrast presented between the male and female, and then an idea of the effect of the combination!

Procession is simply a musical presentation of worshippers walking up the path to the church door, where inside, they can hear the sound of Plainsong (in this case a setting of the text "Domine Deus, Rex coelestis").


This is a musical impression of a group of worshippers walking up the path to the main door of the church, passing through the graveyard on the way.

2  Plainsong

As the worshippers reach the church, I imagine them hearing the sound of Plainsong, in this case a setting of the text "Domine Deus, Rex coelestis".  (This would have been highly unlikely, of course, in real life.)

3  The King

The architectural links between Dalmeny Church and Dunfermline Abbey, not far away across the River Forth, provided the idea of setting this movement to the text of the Scots ballad,  Sir Patrick Spens.  "The King sits in Dunfermlin toun, drinkin' the blood-red wine". 

4  Manticore

This mythical creature is said to have the body of a lion, the face of a man, a triple row of teeth and the tail of a scorpion. It is extremely swift, can jump great distances, and according to legend, delights in eating human flesh!

5  Agnus Dei

There follows a complete musical contrast in terms of subject matter and musical treatment.  This is a setting of the Latin text of the mass, Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.

6  Terrebolen (Fire Stones)

Legend has it that these strange Terrebolen or Fire Stones have male and female properties.  When kept apart, they are perfectly safe, but when they come together, fire is kindled with destructive results.  "Men of God, stay well clear of women, lest when you and they approach each other, the twin flame be kindled in you both and consume the good that Christ has bestowed upon you."

7   Procession

This is a repeat of the opening first movement, to bring the work to a close.

       Complete score: brass band and SATB  


       Complete set of parts: brass band  

    SATB and piano reduction 


Listen to the complete piece here