Get ready for New Year’s by learning Auld Lang Syne

Sunday, October 6th, 2013 By

Robert Burns

The lyrics to "Auld Lang Syne" are credited to Robert Burns, though he cribbed from various sources. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

One of the traditions of New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve is singing the song “Auld Lang Syne.” The song is Scottish, and the most popular version is associated with legendary Scot poet Robert Burns. It’s one of the most popular songs in the world.

Should auld acquaintance forget who wrote ‘Auld Lang Syne’

The phrase “auld lang syne” or “old lang syne” translates best as “for old times’ sake.” The “Auld Lang Syne” lyrics were written in 1788 by Robert Burns, considered the finest poet Scotland has ever produced. Burns got the lyrics from various sources, many coming from a poem by James Watson called “Old Lang Syne.” It became a wildly popular song over the last century to sing on New Years‘ Eve when the clock strikes midnight. The original lyrics are in Scottish, which is a different language from Scots Gaelic. Scottish is a Germanic language not far removed from English, whereas Scots Gaelic is a Celtic language.

Auld Lang Syne lyrics

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and never brought to mind?

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and 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.

(Sing chorus after every verse)

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 us a hand o’ thine!

And we’ll take a right good-will draught,

for auld lang syne.

Differing opinions

Some people prefer a version that uses the original Burns lyrics in Scottish, which certainly has its own good qualities, though it can be a bit difficult to understand.  There is a particularly haunting version by Mairi Campbell that is well worth a listen, though it uses a slightly different melody.

The traditional version sung by Susan Boyle


Auld Lang Syne on Wikipedia

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