Prayer to the Sun

Samhainn sunset at Goblin Mountain, by John McSporran

Samhainn sunset at Goblin Mountain, by John McSporran

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:

“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.”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:

The sun

Fàilte ort féin, a ghrian nan tràth,
‘S tu siubhail ard nan speur;
Do cheumaibh treun air sgéith nan ard,
‘S tu màthair àigh nan reul.
Hail to you, O sun of the seasons,
As you travel the skies aloft;
Your steps are strong on the wing of the heavens,
You are the glorious mother of the stars.
Thu laighe sìos an cuan na dìth
Gun dìobhail is gun sgàth,
Thu ‘g éirigh suas air stuagh na sìth,
Mar rìoghain òg fo bhlàth.
You lie down in the destructive ocean
Without impairment and without fear;
You rise up on the peaceful wave-crest
Like a youthful queen in bloom.4

For another modern translation, see Kathryn Price NicDhàna’s post at Amhran nam Bandia.



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.

4 Song 316, Carmichael, Carmina Gadelica, 1992, p292 (English only); Carmichael, Carmina Gadelica Volume III, 1941, pp310-311.