Christian Articles Archive

Auld Lang Syne

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

Robert Burns
Robert Burns (1759-1796)
This song, often attributed to Scotland's favorite poet, Robert Burns, is often sung at New Year's celebrations. "Auld lang syne" literally means "old long ago". A better translation is perhaps "times gone by." 

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And days of Auld Lang Syne?

For Auld Lang Syne, my dear,
For Auld Lang Syne;
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For Auld Lang Syne

And here's a hand, my trusty friend,
And gives a hand o' thine;
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For Auld Land Syne.

For Auld Lang Syne, my dear,
For Auld Lang Syne;
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For Auld Lang Syne

Burns claimed that the song was not his own. In sending the song to Mrs. Dunlop in December, 1788 he speaks of it as being much older. 

"Light be the turf on the breast of the heaven-inspired poet who composed this glorious fragment! There is more of the fire of native genius in it than half-a-dozen of modern English Bacchanalians.... This old song and tune has often thrilled through my soul." 

To Thomson he wrote in 1793:

"The air is but mediocre; but the song of itself — the 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's singing — is enough to recommend any air."

The tune which Burns knew was not the one we sing. The tune we're familiar with was picked by George Thomson, the tune of "Can ye labour lea."

An older Scots version is the following:

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-stoup,
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 fiere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak' a right gud-wellie waught,
For auld lang syne.

Copyright © 1985-2014, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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