Scottish churches join in anniversary celebrations of Robert Burns

By staff writers
January 26, 2009

Churches across Scotland were among those who joined in celebrations across the nation to mark yesterday's 250th anniversary of the birth of national poet Robert Burns.

A national 'Homecoming' campaign to encourage Scots in the USA, Australasia and elsewhere to return to Scotland at least once in 2009 was also launched by the government and first minister to coincide with the celebrations.

Over 10,000 people gathered in Dumfries on Sunday 25 January 2009, carrying several thousand handmade lanterns through the town, past Burns’ house and on to the place of his burial at St Michael's Churchyard.

After a ceremony and readings there, people moved on to the River Nith to witness the torching of a 15 meter wooden model of Tam O’Shanter on his horse.

Community organisations, churches, and civic and religious youth groups have been running workshops over the past few months so that members of the public can make their own lanterns for the procession.

Two specially commissioned stained glass windows, one of Rabbie Burns (as he is popularly know) and the other of his wife Jean Armour, were also unveiled at St Michael’s Church earlier in the day.

The occasion was marked by the unveiling of a life-sized bust of Burns, gifted to the church by the World Burns Federation.

Burns was born in a small stone cottage in Alloway, but spent much of his life in Dumfries and died there in 1796 at the age of 38. His most famous works include 'Tam O’Shanter', 'Auld Lang Syne', 'My Luve is Like a Red, Red Rose' - and his description of a mouse as a "wee timorous beastie".

Special 'Burns Suppers', held each year on or around the bard’s birthday, will taking place around the world this week to commemorate the poet’s life and works, continuing a tradition originated over 200 years ago.

A commemorative evening service was also held at Westminster Abbey in London, where a white marble bust of Robert Burns is positioned on the wall of Poets’ Corner.

The two Church of Scotland congregations in London are also celebrating the bard.

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