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Kirkin’ O’ the Tartans – November 21

November 2, 2010 by  
Filed under News & Events

The “Kirking” is the annual church service of the Saint Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia. Saint Andrews is the oldest charitable organization in continuous existence in the USA—organized in 1729 to assist needy Scot immigrants. The society today has close to 500 members, meets regularly for dinner and fellowship, including an annual golf outing, and supports a generous scholarship program which annually sends some 5 area college students for a year of study at one the four ancient Scottish universities and also brings the Scottish students to study at the University of Pennsylvania. The Kirkin’ service goes back to an old Scottish custom called “The Kirkin’ O’ the Council” where the newly elected Provost, Baillies and Councillors of the town processed in full regalia to the Parish Church on the Sunday after the election to receive the blessing, and stern advice, of the clergy. In the USA this has become “The Kirkin’ o’the Tartan” a service in which, accompanied by bagpipers and in full highland dress, members of the Saint Andrew’s Society and other Scottish societies parade to the church for an annual worship service. The Kirkn’ service follows its customary order, but also includes the presentation of the tartans, when society members, and sometimes their children, bring forward a swatch of various Scottish tartans and the minister arrays them along the communion table and leads a prayer of thanksgiving. At this point there is also usually a few words of greeting for the President of the society.

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