Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Auld Lang Syne

Tonight all across the world, Auld Lang Syne will be played as part of the New Year's celebration. Ever stop to wonder why it's played on New Year's Eve? Or for that matter what an Auld Lang Syne is? Well, wonder no more! Today I present Mr. Mike's Guide to Auld Lang Syne:

Old lang what?
Auld Lang Syne is a poem written by the Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1788. The literal translation of the title is "old long since" but colloquially it means "long, long ago" or "days gone by".

Why New Year's Eve?
The poem was set to the tune of an old Scottish folk song and it became the custom to sing it at Hogmanay (the Scottish New Year celebration). Since the song is about looking back to times past it seems particularly apropos to sing on the last night of the year.

OK, but why does the rest of the world sing it?
The tradition of singing the song spread throughout the British Isles. Canadian-born band leader Guy Lombardo first heard the song played by Scottish immigrants in his hometown of London, Ontario. When he and his brothers formed a band, the song became part of their New Year's Eve repertoire and was played for the first time on December 31, 1929 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians performed at the hotel every New Year's Eve until 1959. They then switched venue to the Waldorf Astoria and continued to perform there until 1978 (a year after Guy's death). The New Year's Eve performances (first over radio and then television) were a tradition for half a century. Guy's version of Auld Lang Syne is still played in Time's Square when the ball drops at midnight.

I'd love to sing along!
There are a number of verses to the song and the lyrics vary; following are the most common first verse and chorus:

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

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

There you have it. Everything you need to know about Auld Lang Syne.

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