Writer and Broadcaster, Billy Kay, presents a major double CD compilation devoted to Robert Burns and to the history of Scottish Freemasonry. Drawing on material he recorded for his acclaimed BBC series “The Mason Word”, he adds poems, songs and fascinating stories about the Bard’s love and commitment to the Craft. Many will be familiar with e.g. Burns’s moving poem The Farewell which he wrote for the brethren of his Ayrshire Lodge when he was on the point of leaving Scotland for Jamaica, yet few know that in the Kilmarnock edition, Burns specified that it should be sung to the air “Guid Nicht an Joy Be Wi ye A” - so here we include a beautiful version of it sung by one of Scotland’s finest traditional singers, Rod Paterson.
Scotland, of course has a strong claim to be the home of Freemasonry a world-wide brotherhood numbering over 6 million people. Along with Freemasons and academic historians from Scotland and the United States, Billy explores the Craft’s early history among the country’s medieval stonemasons, revealing and dramatising their rituals. He also examines why from the 17 century onward non-stonemasons and gentlemen were sufficiently intrigued by the mason’s lore, that they transformed the craft into the speculative Freemasonry that took off round the world in the 18 and 19 centuries.
We visit the Mother Lodge of Scotland, Kilwinning in Ayrshire and hear its claim to be the spiritual home of Freemasonry with a history going back to the building of Kilwinning Abbey in the 12 century. Masons like the Earl of Elgin and Kincardine recall the emotion experienced by him and his father when he was first initiated into the Craft, while others remember their fear and awe. All of them are glad however that they experienced its mystery. We visit and discover the rich history permeating two of Edinburgh’s historic lodges, The Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary’s Chapel), No 1, and Lodge Canongate Kilwinning, No. 2. The mystic tie, according to Robert Burns is the bond shared by brother Masons. As Freemasonry took off in the 18 and 19 centuries, many of the great men of European culture were drawn to the craft - Mozart, Sibelius, and Goethe for example, as well as Scottish icons like Burns, Sir Walter Scott and James Boswell. We celebrate the cultural legacy of Freemasonry and hear of the conviviality in music and song that arose out of the harmonies enjoyed when the formal part of the evening was over.
In America, Billy travels to Fredericksburg, Virginia home of the Lodge of Scottish tobacco merchants who initiated George Washington into the Craft, and to Washington DC where the White House and the Capitol
Buildings were built by Edinburgh stonemasons and Freemasons who were among the founder members of the prestigious Federal Lodge No 1 there. We hear of the amazing spread of Scottish lodges from Appi Appi in Borneo to Jamaica in the West Indies! At home, we confront the myth of sectarianism, while abroad we hear of persecution against Freemasons from Nazi Germany to Stalin’s Russia. We also learn from Freemasons about the inclusive nature of the brotherhood, its work for charity and the morality it teaches…. all of which means that for many of them, after their families and faith, it plays the most important role in their lives.
The Mystic Tie, a double CD, will be available mid-November. A leaflet/order form will be available shortly.