Burns display at Kelvin Hall
'Holy Willie's prayer' from
the Glenriddell Manuscripts.
page of the Glenriddell Manuscripts.
To celebrate Burns Night, the National Library at Kelvin Hall and Glasgow Life's Mitchell Library are displaying two manuscripts of Robert Burns's poems, brought together for the first time.
Both works on display are satires, directed at the hypocrises of certain sections of the Church of Scotland.
'Holy Willie's prayer'
This satirical verse is one of Burns's most devastating and amusing diatribes, directed against William Fisher, an elder at Mauchline Kirk (Church of Scotland). In an introduction to the poem, Burns gives a scathing description of Fisher — 'Holy Willie' — which includes the following excerpt:
'Holy Willie was a rather oldish batchelor Elder in the parish of Mauchline, & much & justly famed for that polemical chattering, which ends in tippling Orthodoxy, & for that Spiritualised Bawdry which refines to Liquorish Devotion.'
The version of 'Holy Willie's prayer' on display is from the Library's Glenriddell Manuscripts, recognised as the largest single collection of Burns's manuscripts in existence.
On loan from the Glasgow City Council collection at the Mitchell Library, the manuscript of Burns's poem 'The Ordination' is also being displayed. Believed to be the only surviving copy of the original, this poem was written in 1786 as a satirical preview of the induction of the 'Auld Licht' minister, Reverend James Mackinlay to the Laigh Kirk, Kilmarnock.
In the work, Burns attacks the self-righteousness of the 'Auld Licht' ministers towards their parishioners, drawing attention to the division between the conservative 'Auld Lichts' and the more liberal 'New Lichts' of the Church of Scotland at the time.
Read more about the Robert Burns Collection at the Mitchell Library.
The Library's Glenriddell Manuscripts were the subject of an exhibition in 2014. Visit our Glenriddell Manuscripts Treasures display pages to find out more.
You can also discover more about Burns in our Robert Burns website.
Friday 25 January
Kelvin Hall, Glasgow
Free. Drop-in event — no need to book.