Did You Know?
- Auld Lang Syne

New Year Fireworks, Edinburgh

It is claimed that "Auld Lang Syne" is the song that is sung most frequently around the world due to the large numbers of people who sing it at New Year's Eve celebrations, mainly in the English speaking countries. (There is probably a song in China that gets sung more frequently but then again, Chinese students sing the song in Chinese for friendship and also at student graduations and funerals). However, many people who sing it don't know all the words and if they do, bwecause it uses native Scots words, they don't always know what the mean. So here's a page not only with the original words but also with a translation. And further down the page is a brief historical background to the song and the role of Robert Burns in making it such a great song for so many occasions

The Words to "Auld Lang Syne"

Auld Lang Syne

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 you'll be your pint stoup,
And surely I'll be mine,
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne!


We twa hae ran about the braes,
And pou'd the gowans fine,
But we've wander'd monie a weary fit
Sin' auld lang syne.


We twa hae paidl'd in the burn
Frae morning sun til 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 willie waught
For auld lang syne!


Days Long Ago

Should old acquaintances be forgotten
And never be remembered?
Should old acquaintances be forgotten
and days long ago.

For days long ago, my dear,
For days long ago
We'll drink a cup of kindness yet
For days long ago!

And surely you'll have your pint tankard
And surely I'll have mine.
And we'll drink a cup of kindness yet
For days long ago.


We two have run about the hills
And pulled the daisies fine
But we've wandered many a weary mile
Since the days long ago.


We two have paddled in the stream
From morning sun till dinner-time
But the broad seas have roared between us
Since the days long ago.


And here's my hand, my trusty friend,
And give me your hand too,
And we will take an excellent good-will drink
For the days of long ago.


Please note that "Syne" is sounded with an "s" rather than "z"!

History of "Auld Lang Syne"
The phrase "Auld Lang Syne" is also used in similar poems predating the version written bt Burns. Burns who had been touring Scotland and collecting such old verses (and in many cases improving on them) sent a copy of the original song to the Scots Musical Museum with the remark, "The following song, an old song, of the olden times, and which has never been in print, nor even in manuscript until I took it down from an old man." The ballad "Old Long Syne" which was printed in 1711 shows considerable similarity in the first verse and the chorus to Burns' later poem but it is a fair to attribute the rest of the poem to Burns himself.

It is doubtful if the melody used today is the same one Burns originally intended, but it is widely used in Scotland and in the rest of the world. Singing the song on Hogmanay or New Year's Eve very quickly became a Scots custom that soon spread to other parts of the British Isles. As Scots emigrated around the world, they took the song with them.

Canadian band leader Guy Lombardo is often credited with popularising the use of the song at New Year’s celebrations in America, through his annual broadcasts on radio and television, beginning in 1929. The song became his trademark. In addition to his live broadcasts, Lombardo recorded the song more than once. His first recording was in 1939. Earlier newspaper articles describe revellers on both sides of the Atlantic singing the song to usher in the New Year

"Auld Lang Syne" has also become associated with funerals, graduations and as a farewell or ending to other occasions. The song begins by posing a rhetorical question as to whether it is right that old times be forgotten, and is generally interpreted as a call to remember long-standing friendships.

Frequently the singing of the song involves only the first verse and the chorus. The last lines of both of these are often sung with the extra words "For the sake of" or "And days of", rather than Burns' simpler lines. This allows one note for each word, rather than the slight melisma required to fit Burns' original words to the current melody.

"Auld Lang Syne" in Performance
If you search for "Auld Lang Syne" on YouTube you will find a number of performances of the song by singers, pipe bands and special occasions. However, if you want to hear a good Scottish singer performing it you will be hard pushed to find a better one than that sung by Kenneth McKellar (sound only).

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