• Sue Devick

Auld Lang Syne (Lyrics and History)



The lyrics to this traditional Scottish song were sent to the Scots Musical Museum in 1788 by Robert Burns, who noted that it was an ancient tune but that he was the first to record it. The title phrase translates literally to "old long since," or more broadly "for old times' sake." Scottish custom is to sing the song before midnight with friends holding hands in a circle; before the last verse, everyone crosses their arms so that their left hand is holding the hand of the person on their right, and vice-versa. At the end of the song, all rush to the center, maintaining this position.


Below (left) are the actual words that Burns recorded; the translation is on right for phrases that do not translate easily into modern English:


Chorus:

For auld lang syne, my dear,

For auld lang syne,

We'll tak a cup o'kindness yet

For auld lang syne!


Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And auld lang syne.


And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp, And surely you'll buy your pint-jug!

And surely I'll be mine, And surely I'll buy mine!

And we'll tak a cup o'kindness yet

For auld lang syne!


We twa hae run about the braes, We two have tun about the hills,

And pou'd the gowans fine, And pulled the daisies fine,

But we've wander'd monie a weary fit But we've wandered manys the weary foot,

Sin' auld lang syne! Since long, long ago.


We twa hae paidl'd in the burn We two have paddled in the stream,

Frae morning sun till dine, From morning-sun till dine;

But seas between us braid hae roar'd But seas between us broad have roared

Sin' auld lang syne. Since long, long ago.


And there's a hand, mu trusty fiere, And there's a hand, my trusty friend!

And gie's a hand o'thine, And give us a hand of yours!

And we'll tak a right guid-willie waught And we'll take a deep-draught of good-will

For auld lang syne! For long, long ago.


(Original text courtesy of Robert Burns (Burns's Poems, 1900; translation from Scotland. org.

Post inspiration from Deborah Madda.)

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