Auld Lang Syne: Who Wrote the Lyrics and When Was it Composed

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Do you vaguely remember bellowing out Auld Lang Syne at a New Year's Eve party with friends and family and woken up in the morning thinking why did we sing a Christmas song on New Year's Eve? Let's dive into the history of the traditional Christmas song Auld Lang Syne and discover its storied past.
Auld Lang Syne: Who Wrote the Lyrics and When Was it Composed | Love to Sing

Do you vaguely remember bellowing out Auld Lang Syne at a New Year's Eve party with friends and family and woken up in the morning thinking why did we sing a Christmas song on New Year's Eve? Let's dive into the history of the traditional Christmas song Auld Lang Syne and discover its storied past.

Who wrote Auld Lang Syne?

The lyrics to Auld Lang Syne were written by Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1788. The original title of the poem was "Old Long Since" and it was composed to celebrate the New Year. The lyrics are traditionally sung at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, and they express nostalgia for the past and a hope for the future.





Robert Burns, however, didn't necessarily "invent" the term Auld Lang Syne. The nostalgic phrase had appeared in Scottish poems and folk songs as far back as 1588, but it was the adaptation by Robert Burns in his 1788 poem that it has the meaning it has today.

The melody behind the lyrics is derived from an old Scottish folk song, and it has been adapted by numerous artists over the years. According to Wikipedia:

The tune to which "Auld Lang Syne" is commonly sung is a pentatonic Scots folk melody, probably originally a sprightly dance in a much quicker tempo. The song originally had another melody, which can be traced to around 1700 and was deemed "mediocre" by Robert Burns. The famous melody was first used in 1799, in the second volume of George Thomson's Select Songs of Scotland.





When did Auld Lang Syne become a Christmas song?

Although Auld Lang Syne is now considered a Christmas song the world over, it wasn't always associated with the holiday season. Traditionally sung in Scotland for New Year's Eve celebrations, a festival named Hogmanay, Auld Lang Syne slowly began to be seen as a Christmas song in English-speaking countries as Scots immigrated around the world, particularly to Canada and the United States of America.

We really do have to thank Canadian presenter Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians band for making Auld Lang Syne so popular, as they performed the song on national Canadian TV from 1929 until 1977.





Why do we sing Auld Lang Syne at New Year's Eve?

There are a few theories about why we sing Auld Lang Syne at New Year's Eve. One theory is that the song's lyrics about nostalgia and looking back on happy memories resonates with people who are saying goodbye to the old year and looking forward to the new one. Another theory is that the Scottish tradition of Hogmanay (a New Year's Eve celebration) helped popularize the song. Whatever the reason, Auld Lang Syne has become a staple of New Year's celebrations around the world.

What are the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne?

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Happy New Year!

Should old acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot
In the days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For the sake of 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 the sake of auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For the sake of auld lang syne

We two have run about the slopes
And picked the daisies fine
We’ve wandered many a weary foot
Since the days of auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For the sake of auld lang syne

We two have paddled in the stream
From morning sun till dine
But seas between us broad have roared
Since the days of auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For the sake of auld lang syne

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet
For the days of auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For the sake of auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For the sake of auld lang syne

 

 

Auld Lang Syne is a timeless Christmas song that has been enjoyed by people for centuries. It's a reminder of happy times past and a hope for happiness in the future. So, next time you find yourself singing this Christmas classic, remember its rich history and enjoy the moment.

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