Second fiddle to no one

Bill Duncan<br>


For the Capital Press

Being Scottish, my patron saint is St. Andrew, one of the most neglected saints among us.

I read about him on his feast day, Nov. 30, and found a deeper meaning of "disce pati," the Duncan Scottish clan motto, which translates "learn to suffer."

I put this in perspective when I read about the life of St. Andrew. Knowing the tenacious nature of the Scots, this is probably why they chose Andrew as the patron saint of Scotland.

Andrew's name appears only a few times in the Bible, and he is always described as Peter's brother. Yet the piece I read reminded readers that it was Andrew who brought Peter to Jesus in the first place.

Andrew was first attracted to John the Baptist and actually met Jesus through John the Baptist.

The two brothers followed Christ and were finally chosen as part of the 12 apostles. One of the few mentions of Andrew in the Bible comes in the fourth Gospel, relating the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, when Andrew said: "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fishes, but what are these among so many?"

The theme of the piece I read said that Andrew might have been one of the 12, but he always played second fiddle to his brother, Peter, who was chosen as the leader of the disciples, not Andrew.

Second fiddle was once described by the musical genius Leonard Bernstein as "the hardest instrument to play in the orchestra." Bernstein said first fiddle plays the melody -- the tune that stands out and is applauded by the audience. The second fiddle plays the harmony -- which demands considerable creativity and fancy finger work.

The second fiddle, Bernstein said, makes the first fiddle sound good. Why the Scots, and the Russians, chose Andrew, as their patron saint is a mystery. But indeed Andrew has played second fiddle even in sainthood.

For instance, both Ireland and Scotland are on the British Isles, yet guess who gets all the good press? Not Andrew, but a Johnny-come lately named Patrick, but then he did chase the snakes out of Ireland and converted all those heathen cousins of ours.

Church history almost forgets Andrew, and when the apostles went out to preach to all nations, Andrew went, too, but little or nothing is known of his labors in the mission field.

There are stories that generally agree that he was crucified. The written account says he was bound, not nailed, to a decussate cross, so called because it is shaped in the form of an "X," which is also the Roman numeral 10. This was done in order to prolong his suffering. I have to wonder if that is where my clan motto comes from.

Today the "X" form of the cross is called the Saint Andrew cross. Thus the flag of Scotland is the X-shaped cross.

The good St. Andrew may have played second fiddle, but a large part of the world turns out to be Scottish without realizing it. In 1996, Duncan Bruce wrote a comprehensive reference guide called "Mark of the Scot," tracing not only the Scottish impact on America, but its effect around the world.

The problem is we Scots take a perverse pride in being so consistently underestimated.

But in truth we play second fiddle to no one.

Bill Duncan can be reached by writing to P.O. Box 812, Roseburg, OR 97470.

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