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What Is Auld Lang Syne?

Auld Lang Syne is a song traditionally in most English speaking and many other countries played on New Year's Eve. The phrase Auld Lang Syne translates in English to mean "old long since" or "long, long, ago."

Auld Lang Syne is based upon a Scottish poem originally written by James Watson in 1711. Seventy years later, Robert Burns penned a version of Auld Lang Syne into a song and sent it to the Scots Musical Museum with the comment: "The following song, an 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."

The lyrics to Watson's "Auld Lang Syne" are:
"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,
in Old long syne,
That thou canst never once reflect,
on Old long syne.
My Heart is ravisht with delight,
when thee I think upon;
All Grief and Sorrow takes the flight,
and speedily is gone;
The bright resemblance of thy Face,
so fills this, Heart of mine;
That Force nor Fate can me displease,
for Old long syne.
CHORUS
Since thoughts of thee doth banish grief,
when from thee I am gone;
will not thy presence yield relief,
to this sad Heart of mine:
Why doth thy presence me defeat,
with excellence divine?
Especially when I reflect
on Old long syne
CHORUS."

The lyrics to Burns' "Auld Lang Syne" are:
"Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne* ?
CHORUS:
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-stowp !
and surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
CHORUS
We twa hae run about the braes,
and pu’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin auld lang syne.
CHORUS
We twa hae paidl’d i' the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin auld lang syne.
CHORUS
And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
and gie's a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.
CHORUS

The song has often been played at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, as well as at funerals, graduations, farewell gatherings, or as means to conclude social events.

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