Mystic Tie/Audio | Billy Kay | Odyssey Productions

Mystic Tie / Audio

THE MYSTIC TIE Double CD on Robert Burns & the History of Scottish Freemasonry produced and presented by Billy Kay is available now and can be purchased via the Grand Lodge of Scotland website: Go to and click on the image of Burns. Alternatively contact Billy directly from the Contacts page.

For the 250th anniversary of the birth of the national bard in 2009, The Grand Lodge of Scotland commissioned multi - award winning writer and broadcaster, Billy Kay to explore the role of Freemasonry in the life, the poetry and songs of Robert Burns. Within this double CD he also extended and re-fashions the original material he collected for his acclaimed BBC series The Mason Word and along with Freemasons and historians, celebrated the fascinating history of the Scottish Craft and the strong claim that Scotland is the spiritual home of a world wide brotherhood numbering in excess of 6 million people.

CD 1 The Mystic Tie - Robert Burns and Freemasonry.

Track 1. Brethren o the mystic level

Track 2. Caledonia's Bard.

Track 3. It's comin yet for a' that.

The History of Scottish Freemasonry

Track 4. The History of Scottish Freemasonry A. The Mother Lodge.

CD 2. The Mystic Tie - The History of Scottish Freemasonry

Track 5. The History of Scottish Freemasonry B. The Mason Word.

Track 6. The History of Scottish Freemasonry C. The Maister's Apron.

Track 7. The History of Scottish Freemasonry D. From Washington to St Petersburg.

Track 8. The History of Scottish Freemasonry E. "We met upon the level..."

AUDIO: You can hear extracts from the Mystic Tie by clicking here:

[From The Mystic Tie Double CD Robert Burns & The History of Scottish Freemasonry File Rmasonic]

A. This extract describes the spread of Scottish Freemasonry in 18th century America, and its influence on George Washington in Fredericksburg Virginia. Duration 02 45 Audio

B. Five years after his death, nine friends of the poet had a dinner in Alloway to celebrate his life and work - most of them were fellow Freemasons. We hear details of the very first Burns Supper that sparked a global phenomenon. Duration 03 02 Audio

These were the BBC billings for the original series called The Mason Word - they will give you an impression of the kind of material covered in the CDs

1. The Mother Lodge

Billy Kay presents a major new four part series on the history of Scottish Freemasonry which has a strong claim to be the spiritual home of a world wide brotherhood numbering close to 6 million people. Along with freemasons and academic historians from Scotland and the United States, Billy will explore the craft's early history among the country's medieval stonemasons, revealing and dramatising their rituals. He will also examine why, from the 17th century onward, non-stonemasons and gentlemen were sufficiently intrigued by the mason's lore, that they transformed the craft into the Freemasonry that took off round the world in the 18th and 19th centuries.

2. "The Mystic Tie"

The mystic tie, according to Robert Burns was the bond experienced and shared by brother masons. Billy Kay reveals that as freemasonry took off in the 18th and 19th centuries, many of the great men of European culture were drawn to the craft - Mozart, Sibelius, Goethe as well as Scottish icons like Sir Walter Scott and James Boswell. We shall celebrate the cultural legacy of Freemasonry and hear of the conviviality that arose out of the harmonies enjoyed when the formal part of the evening was over.

The Mystic Tie cover | Billy Kay | Odyssey Productions

3. The Scottish Rite

Billy Kay continues the story of Scottish freemasonry, travelling to Fredericksburg Virginia home of the lodge of Scottish tobacco merchants who initiated George Washington into the Craft. He also visits Washington DC where the White House and the Capitol Building were built by Edinburgh stonemasons and freemasons who were among the founder members of the prestigious Federal Lodge No 1 there.

3. "We Met Upon the Level"

In the final programme in the series Billy Kay confronts issues like sectarianism and conspiracy theories regarding freemasonry and look for possible origins., while we hear of persecution against Freemasons from Nazi Germany to Stalin's Rusia. We also hear 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, it plays the most important role in their lives.

An Odyssey Production for Radio Scotland

Some of the reponses to the Mystic Tie material from around the world:

Dear Billy,
Just a wee e-mail to congratulate you on your work 'The Mason Word'. I have been listening to the show on the bbc internet site for the last few weeks and it is absolutely wonderful. You have done a terrific job in promoting our craft and I have been telling all and sundry out here in Queensland to tune in to your show.
All the best

Ian Taylor
Gold Coast

Dear Billy

May I say how much everybody is enjoying the "Mason Word" on Radio Scotland. The programme was mentioned at last night' 's Provincial Grand Lodge of Edinburgh meeting with enthusiasm.  It is good to hear the focus set on the positive side of Freemasonry rather than listen to its detractors. We all know that our organisation is not perfect - which is? - but we do our best. I believe the pluses outweight the minuses.

Yours sincerely 

Ian McFadyen
Lodge Canongate Kilwinning No.2


Just a wee note to say thank you for your efforts in putting out such a series of balanced programmes.It was so refreshingn not to hear the biassed claptrap we've become accustomed to over the past decade. Thanks again and keep up the good work

Bill Cross (Falkland)

Dear Billy,
I am an independent researcher who has specialised in Scottish Freemasonry for the past 12 years. I can't tell you how upset I was at having missed the first three instalments of your Mason's Word series. I am currently writing the sequel to my Kilwinning History (containing many details which have never been published) and was hoping to somehow get a copy of your first episode, which dealt with MK0.

I have just 'listened again' to the final instalment. It was excellent sir!

Secretary of Scotland
Tesla Memorial Society New York

Hello Billy
Thank you very much for a great show. I listened online from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Will this show be available for download on your website? I would like to share it with my brethren here in Canada.
Thanks in advance
Bro. Gordon Lomoth
Junior Warden
Twin City Lodge #509
Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario

N.B. It is impossible to do work on Freemasonry without people wondering, is he or is'nt he? Well he isnae, but his father was, and his grandfather was and the Craft probably attracted a few more generations of male Kays going back to Burns' time in Ayrshire at least. In making the series, the CD's and writing the chapter on the Mason Word for the paperback edition of The Scottish World, I was exploring my own family history as well as the story of an important Scottish institution which like many suffers from grave misinformation and misrepresentation in the media.

Fergusson's Auld Reikie

Here is an extracts from the CD Fergussons Auld Reikie which features the poetry of Robert Fergusson and the music of 18th century Edinburgh. The musicians are Rod Paterson, Derek Hoy, and Norman Chalmers of the band Jock Tamson's Bairns and the late sairly lamentit Tony Cuffe. You can listen to it by clicking here.

In a radio show she presented in 2010, the wonderful singer/songwriter Karine Polwart described Fergusson's Auld Reikie as "one of her all time favourite albums." A few years before that, when she saw the live performance of the poetry and nusic at the Edinburgh folk club, she chose it as her "gig of the year" in the Sunday Herald, highlighting Rod Paterson's singing of The Birks o Invermay.

There are still a few CD copies available of this recording from the early 1980's. Contact Billy directly for details.


East Ayrshire Libraries commissioned Billy Kay to record his recitation of selected poems from the Kilmarnock Edition of the Bard's poetry which appear on line with a virtual version of the book. It will also appear in the Burns Monument in the Kay Park, Kilmarnock. Go to the link below, then click on Robert Burns, then click on Kilmarnock Edition.

This is the introduction on the webite:

Robert Burns most famous work - "Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect" was published in Kilmarnock by printer John Wilson in 1786. Popularly known as the "Kilmarnock Edition", a limited number of books were printed and although a few survive they are rare, valuable and not generally accessible to the public.

The Burns Monument Centre however houses a unique 3 dimensional digitised representation of the Kilmarnock Edition that not only reproduces the text exactly, but also has a selection of poems sung and narrated. Visitors to the centre can now see the Kilmarnock Edition exactly as it was printed more than 200 years ago and can hear the poems narrated by Billy Kay, the celebrated Ayrshire author and linguist and fine performances of the songs "Now Westlin Winds, and Slaught'ring Guns" and "It was upon a Lammas night" by Rod Paterson.

View the online version of the Kilmarnock Edition here

Selection of Audio pieces:

The following are extracts from Odyssey Prouctions series for Radio Scotland. They were produced and presented by Billy Kay.

From the programme "Let Them Drink Port"!

On the Scots in 17th century Poland. This is also the subject of a chapter in The Scottish World.

The beginning of the series on Scotland´s links with Africa and Africans.

The end of the series which looked at Scottish involvement in national liberation struggles. This is also the subject of a chapter in The Scottish World.

Here are two extracts from the book Scots: The Mither Tongue you can listen to Billy reading the final chapter here.

Here is an extracts from the CD Fergussons Auld Reikie which features the poetry of Robert Fergusson and the music of 18th century Edinburgh. The musicians are Rod Paterson, Derek Hoy, and Norman Chalmers of the band Jock Tamson´s Bairns and the late sairly lamentit Tony Cuffe. You can listen to it by clicking here.

Finally here are two extracts from the historic oral history series Odyssey which Billy produced for the BBC in the early 1980´s

Gallipoli tells the story of the ill–fated Gallipoli campaign in the First World War. You can listen to it by clicking here. This is also the subject of a chapter in the book The Complete Odyssey.

St Kilda had the voices of the last native inhabitants recalling the life on the island before the evacuation of 1930. You can listen to it by clicking here. This is also the subject of a chapter in the book The Complete Odyssey.