By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support local journalism.
Where Did That Come From? - Auld Lang Syne
st clair

For some of us, the New Year can’t come too soon. We must all admit the past year has not gone the way any of us expected or hoped for. In keeping with my motto, which I have previously declared is “like my blood type, B positive,” I am trusting that “wrong shall fail and right prevail.”

On New Year’s, likely the most popular tune year after year has been “Auld Lang Syne.” But I would wager that many of us have no idea what those words mean, and some don’t know the origin of the song itself.

Let’s start with the words. The literal translation of the Scots Gaelic words is, “old long since.”  

Our version of the song is from a poem accredited to famed Scottish bard, Robert Burns, in 1780. More smoothly rendered into our modern vernacular, it would be, “long, long ago” or “days gone by.” 

Burns sent a copy of the original song to the Scots Musical Museum in 1780 with the notation: “The following song, an old song, of the olden times, and which has never been in print or even in manuscript until I took it down from an old man.”

Some of the lyrics were certainly in existence before Burns wrote them down. And even in print. An earlier version by James Watson printed in 1711 shows considerable similarity in the first verse and the chorus. It goes like this:

Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,

and never thought upon;

The flames of Love extinguished,

and fully past and gone:

Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,

that loving Breast of thine;

That thou canst never once reflect

On old long syne.


Chorus:

On old long syne my Jo,

On old long syne,

That thou canst never once reflect,

On old long syne.


Whoever deserves the credit, the song conveys positive vibes. The purpose is to remind us to always remember the good times and not be carried away by any negative going on in the present. At least that is how I like to think about it.  


If you would like to know the origin of a favorite expression, text the author at 931-212-3303 or email him at stan@stclair.net.