KNOXVILLE – On Monday night, fifty-four faculty and honors program students gathered in the Private Dining Room of the Gally Commons to honor the birthday of the famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns.
Burns, born in Alloway, West Scotland in 1759, wrote over five hundred and fifty songs and poems, many in his native Scottish dialect, including the New Year’s classic Auld Lang Syne.
Since his death in 1796, groups in Scotland, and all over the world, have come together on the night of his birthday to celebrate by sharing in a traditional Scottish supper of haggis, neeps, and tatties.
Dr. Gerald Mattingly, who started the Burns Night tradition at Johnson University seven years ago, said, “Robbie’s poems and songs speak about – and reflect upon – love and work, hearth and home, family and friends, heritage and patriotism, nature and brotherhood, self-knowledge and faith, and life and death – all subjects worthy of contemplation.”
Attendees were served a catered dinner, which, fortunately, did not include haggis, after which faculty and friends presented various pieces honoring Scotland.
Bill and Betsy Wolf shared stories of their time in Scotland while Mr. Wolf was pursuing his graduate degree at the University of St. Andrews. Rachel Patten followed with a recitation of Robert Burns’ “Winter: A Dirge.”
Denny Eaton shared stories of her trips to Scotland staying in their many famous bed and breakfasts.
Adam Bean dedicated the Burns poem “Bonnie Lesley” to his wife Lesley Bean. Dr. Jeff Snell followed by delivering an ode to the great Scottish preacher James S. Stewart.
Dr. Mattingly recited four stanzas from Burns’ “The Cotter’s Saturday Night” and Perry Morin concluded the night with a study in the connection between Abraham Lincoln and Robert Burns.
Senior Jared Randall opened and closed the night in prayer. The night of fellowship served as a reminder of the gift it is to be able to appreciate the work of a master of the written word.