The History of Auld Lang Syne

Synonymous with New Year’s Eve, Auld Lang Syne imbues nostalgia while evoking a sense of belonging and fellowship.

The exact origins of the Scots song are unknown, however, in 1788 poet, Robert Burns published the now-famous poem in volume five of James Johnson’s Scots Musical Museum.

Burns, the national poet of Scotland, was a major contributor to the compilation. Yet he claimed the words of “Auld Lang Syne” were not his own. He is quoted stating that they were taken “from an old man’s singing”. 

The lyrics of “Auld Lang Syne” were originally in the Scots language with the phrase ‘auld lang syne’ roughly translating as ‘for old times’ sake’. Although the song lyrics reflect old friends recalling long-ago adventures,  there is no specific reference to the new year.

 

English Lyrics

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

And auld 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.

 

We two have run about the slopes,

And picked the daisies fine;

But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,

Since auld lang syne.

 

We two have paddled in the stream,

From morning sun till dine;

But seas between us broad have roared

Since auld lang syne.

 

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.

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