Auld Lang Syne

I never went to a New Years bash that didn”t culminate with this once a year song. We have heard this little diddy since childhood, but probably know very little about it. The songs we know best are the ones that become the mileposts our lives – Ground control to Major Tom, Like a Candle in the Wind, or Michael Jackson’s Thriller. But I wonder if any of these will endure like Auld Lang Syne (ALS). No pun intended but only time will tell.

The song is actually a poem written by the Scottish poet, Robert Burns, in 1788, and set to the tune of an old traditional folk song. The literal translation of the Scot’s title is “old long since”. The first line reading, “For auld lang syne” loosely translates to “For (the sake of) old times.”

Canadian band leader Guy Lombardo is often identified as the musician who popularised the song at New Year’s celebrations in North America, by his broadcasts on radio and television, beginning in 1929. ALS became Lombardo’s trademark piece of music.

There are some earlier accounts that say ALS was a New Years staple at the Lenox in Boston as early as 1896.

If you want to really impress your midnight kiss, sing the original Scottish version, as follows:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp !
and surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We twa hae run about the braes,
and pu’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin auld lang syne.


We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
and gie’s a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.

Be prepared to answer the question – What is a gude-willy waught?

Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve. Middle age is when you’re forced to. ~Bill Vaughn

One thought on “Auld Lang Syne

  1. Debi

    The best part about this song is having no idea what it means, lol! Burns poetry always leaves me scratching my head, yet “translations” of it endure in modern culture:

    “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
    Gang aft agley…”

    “The best laid plans of mice and men
    often go awry…” (or askew, depending on who you ask)

    Anyway, Bobbie Burns aside, I’m delighted that I’ll be spending a second NYE with my favorite author. 🙂

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