On January 25th, Lodge Harry S. Truman held a dinner in honor of Robert Burns’ Birthday, otherwise known as a “Burns Supper” or “Burns Night”.
Robert Burns 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 his political or civil commentary is often at its bluntest.
In celebration of his birthday, we had several readings of Bro. Robert Burns’ Masonic poetry, including “Address to a Haggis” read by RWM Rich.
Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm :
Weel are ye wordy o’a grace
As lang’s my arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.
His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Then, horn for horn, they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad make her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?
Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as wither’d rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash;
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!
But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle.
Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer
Gie her a haggis!
Bro Eric recited a poem entitled “The Master’s Apron”.
Ther’s mony a badge that’s unco braw;
Wi’ ribbon, lace and tape on;
Let kings an’ princes wear them a’ —
Gie me the Master’s apron!
The honest craftsman’s apron,
The jolly Freemason’s apron,
Be he at hame, or roam afar,
Before his touch fa’s bolt and bar,
The gates of fortune fly ajar,
`Gin he but wears the apron!
Robert Burns’s masonic apron, given to him by the composer Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, in 1791. Burns became a freemason in Lodge Tarbolton and was their deputy master for four years.
For wealth and honor, pride and power
Are crumbling stanes to base on;
Eternity suld rule the hour,
And ilka worthy Mason!
Each Free Accepted Mason,
Each Ancient Crafted Mason.
Then, brithers, let a halesome sang
Arise your friendly ranks alang!
Guidwives and bairnies blithely sing
To the ancient badge wi’ the apron string
That is worn by the Master Mason!
Robert Burns’ masonic apron that he received when he joined the St Ebbe’s Lodge Royal Arch Chapter in 1787.
Bro. Steve recited a song called “Ye Sons of Old Killie”, sung by Robert Burns at Lodge Kilmarnock-Kilwinning St. John #22, in 1786 to RWM William Parker.
Ye sons of Auld Killie, assembled by Willie,
To follow the noble vocation;
Your thrifty old mother has scarce such another
To sit in that honoured station.
I’ve little to say, but only to pray,
As praying’s the ton of your fashion;
A prayer from the muse you well may excuse,
`Tis seldom her favorite passion.
Burns Monument in Kay Park, Kilmarnock.
Ye powers who preside o’er the wind and the tide,
Who marked each element’s border,
Who formed this frame with beneficent aim
Whose sovereign statute is order,
Within this dear mansion may wayward contention,
Or withered Envy ne’er enter,
May secrecy round be the mystical bound
And brotherly love be the center.
Myself and Bro. Kevin (The New Scottish Brethren) did a tag-team recitation of “Presentation of the Pillars”.
Long may this Lodge in prosperity shine
And its members still vie with each other
In spreading the light of our order divine
And relieving the wants of a brother.
May envy and malice ne’er enter that door
That is aye closely tyled to the cowan
But peace, love and harmony aye be in store
More abundant the older you’re growing.
May our Master who presides like the Masters of old
In wisdom excel and astonish
May he never be heard erring brothers to scold
But with brotherly love aye admonish.
May our Warden in the West, like the sun’s setting rays
Illumine the golden horizon
May his strength never fail with the burden of days
But increase every moment that flies on.
And to our Warden in the South, like the beauty of day
May he gladden the worn, tired and weary
Inspire with his smiles as they rest by the way
The toilers, and make them feel cheery.
And to you whom our Master is honoured to rule and instruct
Be ye always sober and steady
Expert in the use of each working tool
And aye hae them handy and ready.
Thus will the Temple we seek to upraise
Be completed when all do their duty
And our voices unite in a chorus of praise
To Wisdom, to Strength and to Beauty
One recitation that really surprised me was “A Masonic Song”, read by one of the wives. This is one of the examples of Robert Burns’ boldness.
It happened on a winter night,
And early in the season.
Some body said my bonny lad
Was gone to be a Mason.
I cryed and wailed, but nought availed,
He put a forward face on.
And did avow that he was now
A Free Accepted Mason.
Still doubting if the fact was true,
He gave me demonstration;
For out he drew before my view
The Jewels of a Mason.
The Jewels all, baith great and small,
I viewed with admiration;
When he set his swage and drew his gauge,
I wondered at my Mason.
So pleased was I to see him ply
The tools of his vocation,
I beg’d for once he would dispense
And make a Maid a Mason.
Then round and round in mystic ground
He took the middle station,
And with halting pace he reached the place
Where I was made a Mason.
His compass stride he laid it wide,
I thought I guessed the reason.
But his mallet shaft it put me daft;
I longed to be a Mason.
Good plummets strong he downward hung
A noble jolly brace on;
And off a slant his broacher sent
And drove it like a Mason.
Then more and more the light did pour
With bright Illumination,
But when the grip he did me slip
I gloried in my Mason.
But the tempered steel began to fail,
Too soft for the occasion.
It melted lean he drove so keen,
My gallant noble Mason.
What farther passed is here locked fast,
I’m under obligation.
But fill to him, up to the brim,
Can make a Maid a Mason.
At the close of the evening, Bro. Stoney read “Adieu, A Heart Warm, Fond Adieu”.
Adieu, a heart warm, fond adieu,
Dear brothers of the mystic tie!
Ye favored, ye enlightened few,
Companions of my social joy!
Tho’ I to foreign lands must hie,
Pursuing fortune’s slidd’ry ba’,
With melting heart and brimful eye,
I’ll mind you still, though far awa’.
Oft have I met your social band,
An’ spent the cheerful, festive night;
Oft, honored with supreme command,
Presided o’er the sons of light;
And by that Hieroglyphic bright,
Which none but Craftsmen ever saw,
Strong memory on my heart shall write
Those happy scenes, when far awa’.
May freedom, harmony and love
Unite you in the grand design,
Beneath th’ omniscient Eye above,
The glorious Architect divine;
That you may keep the unerring line,
Still rising by the plummet‘s law,
Till order bright completely shine,
Shall be my prayer when far awa’.
And you farewell, whose merits claim
Justly that highest badge to wear,
Heaven bless your honored, noble name,
To Masonry and Scotia dear!
A last request, permit me here;
When yearly ye assemble a’,
One round, — I ask it with a tear
To him, the Bard, that’s far awa’.
It was a fun night of poetry and fellowship. Can’t wait until next year.
Rt Wor Bro Bashford. (2011). Brither Rabbie Burns – A Son of Light. Belfast, Ireland.
Wikipedia. Robert Burns.
BBC News. (2009). In Pictures: Burns Collection. United Kingdom.
Simkins, Stuart. (2009). Early Technology touchs Masonic heights at Bonhams, London. Camacari, Bahia, Brazil.
Cunningham, Allan. (1855). The Complete Works of Robert Burns. BOSTON: PHILLIPS, SAMPSON, AND COMPANY.
Heritage Services, Burns Monument Center. (2012-2013). Category Archives: Robert Burns. East Ayrshire, Scotland.
BBC Documentary. (2011). Robert Burns – The Peoples Poet. United Kingdom.