‘Auld Lang Syne’ by Robert Burns: New Year’s song lyrics

by December 31, 20080 comments

As the sun sets here in southeastern Wisconsin, I thought I’d share a recording of the New Year’s song, “Auld Lang Syne” (people often search for “Old Lang Syne,” perhaps because “Same Old Lang Syne” was one of Dan Fogelberg’s greatest hits).

My favorite version of “Auld Lang Syne” is the one in the YouTube video embedded above, by Scotland’s own Dougie MacLean, from his album Tribute to Robert Burns, Neil Gow and Robert Tannahille.

I love it because MacLean sings the words to Robert Burns‘ original Scottish poem so clearly and plainly. His guitar is simple, almost like a music box. Along with the easy tempo, this really brings out the wistfulness and sentimentality of the verses, which might leave you bawling, even without any Scotch.

Here is the Robert Burns poem, from 1788:

Auld Lang Syne

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 gude-willie waught,
for auld lang syne.


In case you’re not too clear about the Scottish, Scotland.org  — “The official gateway to Scotland” — has helpfully posted their English translation of the words. They render the title as “Long Long Ago.”

I have also heard “Old Long Since,” but I prefer to think of it as “Once Upon a Time,” as the Wikipedia entry about the song offers.

Auld Lang Syne author Robert Burns

Auld Lang Syne author Robert Burns

Wikipedia also notes that Robert Burns himself claimed to have taken the words down from “an old song, of the olden times,” sung by “an old man.” It does not say whether he was winking as he said this.

The tune is from an old Scottish folk song (#6294 in the Roud Folksong Index), and singing it on New Year’s Eve quickly became a Scots custom that spread to the other British Isles.

The tradition of playing “Auld Lang Syne” for the New Year was popularized by Canadian bandleader Guy Lombardo, who chose it because his New Year’s broadcast was sponsored by Robert Burns cigars, according to the BBC documentary, How Auld Lang Syne Took Over the World

I hope you enjoy the track. May you and those you love enjoy a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.


Have anything to add?

The Goods

We earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Swipe item for more