The Bard of Ayrshire – Bro. Robert Burns

The following is mostly from the story on the GLofNY website and gladly linked here. However maybe we should go into a bit more detail of exactly who Robert Burns was.

Another article that was posted on highlighting Robbie Burns is HERE.

Ever been to a New Year’s eve party and at midnight all started toasting and singing Auld Lang Syne? Ever wondered where it came from or what the heck does Auld Lang Syne mean anyway?

Well you can thanks Robert Burns for the song, first a poem.

Robert Burns, born January, 25 1759, died July 21 1796, also known as Rabbie Burns, the Bard of Ayrshire and various other names and epithets, was a Scottish poet and lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland and is celebrated worldwide. He is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots language, although much of his writing is also in English and a light Scots dialect, accessible to an audience beyond Scotland. He also wrote in standard English, and in these writings his political or civil commentary is often at its bluntest.

He is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement, and after his death he became a great source of inspiration to the founders of both liberalism and socialism, and a cultural icon in Scotland and among the Scottish diaspora around the world. Celebration of his life and work became almost a national charismatic cult during the 19th and 20th centuries, and his influence has long been strong on Scottish literature. In 2009 he was chosen as the greatest Scot by the Scottish public in a vote run by Scottish television channel STV.

As well as making original compositions, Burns also collected folk songs from across Scotland, often revising or adapting them. His poem (and song) “Auld Lang Syne” is often sung at Hogmanay (the last day of the year), and “Scots Wha Hae” served for a long time as an unofficial national anthem of the country. Other poems and songs of Burns that remain well known across the world today include “A Red, Red Rose”, “A Man’s a Man for A’ That”, “To a Louse”, “To a Mouse”, “The Battle of Sherramuir”, “Tam o’ Shanter” and “Ae Fond Kiss”.

For more on Robert Burns biography and life, go HERE and HERE for starters.

Now onto what happened at the Grand Lodge of NY.

St. John’s Lodge No. 1 was contacted by Pinstripe Productions, a documentary filming company based in Glasgow, Scotland, regarding the making of a documentary on Robert Burns. They had been commissioned by BBC Scotland to prepare a program for Burns Night next January 25.

Naturally, a number of programs on Burns have come out of Scotland, and in this case the intention was to focus on his influence on the United States, in particular how his poems came to be published over here. However, very soon into the research phase they realized that his membership in Freemasonry had a profound effect on his outlook and his output.

We had barely a week to put everything together in time for the filming. Firstly, the company had to be checked to make sure it was bona fide and that it wouldn’t show Masonry in a bad light. Fortunately, contacts at BBC Scotland were able to reassure us on that point! Then we had to clear a number of hoops with Grand Lodge: firstly the Grand Master’s permission had to be obtained, then the Trustees of the Masonic Hall and Home, and as the Trustees of the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Library were informed (since we intended to include some artefacts). Finally, the Building Management had to be consulted since there were requirements regarding access to the building, insurance policies, etc. Everybody pulled together, and all the necessary steps were accomplished in only five business days.

Click Here to read the full article