Holy Willie's prayer

Page of handwriting by Robert Burns

Introduction and first lines of 'Holy Willie's prayer'.


The most famous of Robert Burns's satirical poems is 'Holy Willie's prayer'.

The target of the poet's wit and outrage, William Fisher, a farmer in Montgarswood, was an elder at Mauchline Kirk.

Fisher had initiated a disciplinary action against Burns's friend Gavin Hamilton for failing to attend the Kirk (Church of Scotland) regularly.

This satire, never published in Burns's lifetime, is the poet's revenge.


This poem featured in the Robert Burns's Glenriddell Manuscripts display at the National Library of Scotland from 23 January to 30 March 2014.


Speak me