Born: February 18, 1823, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Died: November 27, 1864, Menton, France.
Buried: Highgate Cemetery, London, England.
Burns earned his MA degree at the University of Edinburgh, and received his theological training under Thomas Chalmers.
In 1845, he became a Free Church minister in Dunblane, Scotland, but resigned in 1848 due to bad health. He then took charge of the Presbyterian Church at Funchal, Madeira, Portugal.
In 1855, his health improved, and he returned to England and became minister of Hampstead Presbyterian Church in London. After nine years, he again traveled abroad due to ill health.
His hymns appeared in:
Burns also wrote the article Hymn in the 8th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.