The History Of The Burns Supper
A Burns Supper celebrates the life and work of Robert Burns. The earliest documented celebration took place in Ayrshire in the summer of 1801 soon after Burns's death, and involved nine of Burns's closest friends who gathered to celebrate and remember their friend on his birthday. At this earliest event a speech was given and haggis was served, reminiscent of the celebration today. The Alloway Burns Club grew in numbers and other clubs arose in Greenock, Paisley and Kilmarnock, then all over the country.
The Burns Supper Events
A Chairman welcomes the company and a recitation of 'The Selkirk Grace' follows. Dinner is served, including the pipping-in of the haggis and then a rendering of Burns's 'Address to the Haggis'. After the meal is finished, the principal speaker is called upon to deliver the main speech of the evening 'The Immortal Memory'. This is followed by a short appreciation of his efforts and the two other compulsory speeches, 'The Toast to the Lasses' and 'The Reply'. Other speeches can be included. Songs and recitations follow the speeches and the evening is brought to a close by the singing of 'Auld Lang Syne'.
1. The Chairman welcomes the company.
2. The clergyman recites 'The Selkirk Grace'.
3. Dinner is served including the piping-in of the haggis and a rendering of Burns's 'To a Haggis'.
4. The Chairman proposes 'The Loyal Toast'.
1. The principal speaker is called upon to deliver 'The Immortal Memory'.
2. A short speech in appreciation of the speaker's efforts is given.
3. 'The Toast to the LAsses' is proposed by a gentleman speaker.
4. 'The Reply' from a lady speaker follows.
5. Other speeches and toasts are added as required.
The Songs and Recitations
1. Various songs and recitations of Burns's work.
2. The evening ends with the company singing 'Auld Lang Syne'.
The Immortal Memories Speech - The keynote speaker takes the stage to deliver oratory on the life of Robert Burns, his literary genius, his politics, his experience, his nationalism. The speaker concludes with a heart-felt toast: "To the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns!"
The Selkirk Grace:
Some hae meat that wadna eat,
And some hae nane that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.
Address to a Haggis:
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 was 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 feckles as wither'd rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash;
His nieve a nit;
Thro' blody 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' hands will sned,
Like taps o' trissle.
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!
Suggested Burns Supper Menu
Haggis, Neeps and Tatties