Churches join Burns celebrations

Around 10,000 people are expected to gather in the Scottish town of Dumfries on Sunday to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of national bard Robert Burns.

According to Scotland on Sunday, the crowds will be carrying several thousand handmade lanterns through the town, past Burns’ house and the place of his burial at St Michael's Churchyard, before gathering at the River Nith to see the torching of a 15m wooden model of Tam O’Shanter atop his horse.

Church groups, Scouts, Brownies, Boys Brigades, Guides and other community groups have been running lantern workshops over the last few months for members of the public to come and make their own lanterns for the procession, reports Scotland on Sunday.

Two specially commissioned stained glass windows, one of Burns and the other of his wife Jean Armour, will be unveiled at St Michael’s Church earlier in the day. The occasion will also see the unveiling of a life-sized bust of Burns, gifted to the church by the World Burns Federation.

Although Burns was born in a small stone cottage in Alloway, he 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, and My Luve is Like a Red, Red Rose.

Burns Suppers, held each year on or around the bard’s birthday, are taking place around the world this weekend to commemorate the bard’s life and works, continuing on a tradition of more than 200 years.

A special evening service will be held in his honour in Westminster Abbey in London, where a white marble bust of Burns is positioned on the wall of Poets’ Corner. The service, held in association with the Burns Club of London, will be led by the Rev Graeme Napier and include recitations of Burns’ verse as well as solo performances from the canon of his songs.

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