When St. Enoch’s Church
of Scotland was rebuilt in 1827, an image of the Burning Bush was incorporated
into a window behind the pulpit. Some members of the Church took exception to this,
considering its inclusion to be idolatrous, and at least one irate person had to
be refrained from smashing the offending glass.
This is perhaps the most notable record of the use of the symbol within
early Glasgow church history, but its existence was certainly known within the
Established Church before then.
The image itself is taken from
the event described in the Bible at Exodus 3:2 where Moses encounters God in the
form of a bush which appeared to be on fire but which was not burned – the
latter being the origin of the symbol’s attendant legend in Scotland of “nec
tamen consumebator,” translating as “yet it was not consumed”.
Its occurrence is found in the late 16th century in association with
the French Reformed Church. Within
the Reformed Church of Scotland, its introduction in 1691 is generally
attributed to the printer George Mossman who incorporated it as an adornment to
his account of the Acts of the General Assembly.
It seems to have been used to symbolise the emergence of the Church
through its years of conflict finally to attain Establishment in 1690, having
undergone its own trials and still survived – hence what was seen to be an
appropriate use of the image and motto.
Since then, the image has been
used by many Presbyterian Churches worldwide, in one format or another, but is
certainly ubiquitous within the Church of Scotland.
In an age of corporate logos and trademarks, it might even be seen as the
Church’s equivalent. Most
churches now have at least one representation of the Burning Bush and it has
become something of a popular object for execution in a variety of media.
Probably the most common
depiction is as an embroidered element of communion table linen or lectern
cloths, but many churches, such as South Carntyne, have substantial enamelled
metalwork emblems either within or outside of the church.
Calton Parkhead has a vibrant stained glass window of the image made by
Gordon Webster in 1971, while Dennistoun Central has an example as a bronze war
memorial. Several churches, such as
Barlanark Greyfriars and the Mure Memorial, have stone carvings of the Bush set
above their entrances.
Part of the woodwork saved from
the previous Sandyhills Church has been transformed by Jim Hamilton into a
sculpture of the Burning Bush with the Cross rising from its midst – intended
to be symbolic of the both the Old and New Testaments.
One of the most spectacular examples of its depiction is the massive
mosaic created by the pupils of Lochend Secondary School for Lochwood Church.
Below are some examples of the Burning Bush depictions to be found in some of
the east Glasgow churches.
© 2005 Gordon Adams
commemorative sculpture, Dennistoun Central Church of Scotland.
glass window, Calton Parkhead Church of Scotland.
of the Minister's Communion Chair, Carmyle Church of Scotland.