New Year’s Eve Tradition of “Auld Lang Syne”~ From Where Does It Come?

CLOCK.jpg Tomorrow night many of you will break out into the strands of “Auld Lang Syne.” The song evokes nostalgia and a sense of belonging. But what do you know of the song’s origin? Of its lyrics? 

According to “The History and Words of Auld Lang Syne,” the song is a Scottish tradition to be sung right before midnight. According to the tradition, all in the room stand in a circle holding hands. When the final verse and the line “And there’s a hand my trusty friend,” arrives, each person crossing their arms over their waists to take the hands of the people on both sides of them. When the song ends they all rush into the middle of the circle together. 

An article from The Telegraph assures us that Robert Burns did not write the song as some believe. “The Scottish Bard wrote many wonderful pieces of original verse, but this was not among them. Instead, he was the first person to write down a much older Scottish folk song. In 1788 he sent a copy of the song to his friend, Mrs Agnes Dunlop, exclaiming: ‘There is more of the fire of native genius in it than in half a dozen of modern English Bacchanalians!’ Five years later he sent it to James Johnson, who was compiling a book of old Scottish songs, The Scottish Musical Museum, with an explanation: ‘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.’Musicologists and folklorists have been debating this one for years. Although it’s thought that the tune Burns originally heard is probably now forgotten, the poet did write another song with a very similar melody, called O Can Ye Labour Lea, Young Man.”

This Scottish version would not be familiar to most: 

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

For auld lang syne, my dear, 
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 pou’d the gowans fine; 
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit, 
Sin’ auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl’d in 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 fere! 
And gie’s a hand o’ thine! 
And we’ll tak a right gude-willie waught, 
For auld lang syne.

In 1711, James Watson published a song called “Old Lang Syne,” which contains similar lines. The Burns version likely comes from an older Scottish air, as “syne” is an ancient Scottish word for “old kindness.” 

New-Years-Eve-logo.pngIn case you do not know anything beyond the first verse and the chorus, here is the full song: 

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

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

CHORUS

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

 

Resources: 

“Auld Lang Syne,” What Does It Mean? ABC News 

New Year’s Favors 

Robert Burns Country 

 

Advertisements

About reginajeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and contemporary novels.
This entry was posted in ballads, history, holidays, Scotland and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to New Year’s Eve Tradition of “Auld Lang Syne”~ From Where Does It Come?

  1. Thank you for sharing this and correcting, at least with me, a misconception about the ayr.

  2. Jennifer Redlarczyk says:

    Thanks so much. It’s perfect with the New Year just around the corner. Jen Red

  3. and yet the word ‘Hogmanay’ is missing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s