Robert Burns: AULD LANG SYNE

A song of friendship and salutation recognised across the English-speaking world, the Burns song we know and love to sing on Burns's Night and at New Year was by no means the first of its kind. Burns claimed to have transcribed it `from an old man's singing', but a similar `Auld Lang Syne' tune was actually printed circa 1700 and is therefore certain to be much older. The Burns version was adapted by Thomson (probably with Burns's acquiescence) but Johnson had already reprinted Allan Ramsay's `Auld Lang Syne' (a different tune set to a love song rather than a song of parting) in Vol I of SMM in 1787. The timeless Burns gem still treasured to this day had to wait for publication until after the Bard's death and appeared in Vol V of SMM in 1796.

`Light be the turf on the breast of the heaven-inspired Poet who composed this glorious Fragment' wrote Burns to Mrs Dunlop on 7th December 1788. In a note to George Thomson (1793) he describes it as `the old 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.'


         For auld syne, my dear,                           old long ago
            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 min'?
   Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
      And days o' lang syne?

   We twa hae run about the braes,                            hillsides
      And pou'd the gowans fine;                         pulled/daisies
   But we've wander'd mony a weary foot,
      Sin auld lang syne.

   We twa hae paidl't i' the burn,                         waded/stream
      Frae morning sun till dine,                      noon/dinner-time
   But seas between us braid hae roar'd                           broad
      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 guid willie-waught,             goodwill drink
     For auld lang syne.

   And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp,                         pay for
      And surely I'll be mine;
   And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet
      For auld lang syne.