Who Wrote Auld Lang Syne and What does it Mean?

Many people believe that the Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote the song sung in many English-speaking countries on New Year’s Eve. Although Burns added to the song we sing today, he was not responsible for the original content. Instead, it is a version of an old ballad that Burns reworked to create the song we attempt to sing today. The phrase Auld Lang Syne also appears in the work of other poets who wrote before Burns.

Despite its popularity on New Year’s Eve, few people know the words to the song, or what they really mean. The phrase Auld Lang Syne means literally old long ago. In other words, it refers to days gone by. Although there are other verses, on New Year’s Eve in the U.S. typically the first verse and the chorus are sung, though often incorrectly. You can use the translation from the World Burns Club to impress your family at midnight. Verse one of the original song reads: 

Should old acquaintances be forgot

And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And auld lang syne?

 

Translation:

Should old acquaintances be forgotten

And never remembered

Should old acquaintance be forgotten

For old long ago

 

Chorus:

For auld lang syne, my dear,

For auld lang syne,

We’ll tak a cup o kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.

 

Translation:

For old long ago, my dear

For old long ago

We’ll take a cup of kindness yet

For old long ago

 

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