2024 January – Auld Lang Syne


Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And old lang syne?

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

I must  have been about eight years old the first time I remember hearing this song on the radio celebration of the New Year 1948. I had no idea what it meant!  But it was a catchy tune, and people seemed to enjoy singing it. It was accompanied by fireworks and noisy shouts of “Happy New Year!”

Since I learned that my DNA has a fairly significant percentage of Irish and Scotch ancestry, it was interesting for me to learn that the song is of Scottish origin.

Auld Lang Syne, Scottish song with words attributed to the national poet of Scotland, Robert Burns. The composer is not definitely known. In English-speaking countries, the first verse and chorus are now closely associated with the New Year festival.[i]  

The lyrics of “Auld Lang Syne” are in the Scots language. The title, translated literally into standard English, is Old Long Since. The words can be interpreted as since long ago or for old times’ sake. The lyrics are about old friends having a drink and recalling adventures they had long ago. There is no specific reference to the new year.

The Canadian-born bandleader Guy Lombardo helped make “Auld Lang Syne” a New Year’s Eve tradition in North America. His band, the Royal Canadians, played the song at the turn of the new year in a series of popular radio (and later television) broadcasts that began on December 31, 1929, and continued for more than 30 years. [ii]

Following the death of Guy Lombardo and the decline of CBS’s specials, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve grew in popularity and became the dominant New Year’s special on U.S. television, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve has consistently remained the highest-rated New Year’s Eve special broadcast by the United States’ major television networks; its 2012 edition peaked at 22.6 million home viewers—not including viewers watching from public locations, which were not yet measured by Nielsen at the time. The series has most recently been renewed through at least 2028–29.

Dick Clark hosted New Year’s Rockin’ Eve annually from 1973 through 1999 and from 2001 through 2004. For 2000, Clark participated in ABC News’ day-long ABC 2000 Today telecast, joining overall host Peter Jennings for coverage from Times Square. In December 2004, Clark suffered a stroke, which resulted in Regis Philbin serving as guest host. Due to lingering speech impediments from the stroke, Clark ceded hosting duties to Ryan Seacrest the following year, but he continued to make limited appearances as a co-host until his death in 2012. [iii]

And so, Auld Lang Syne, with its continuing popularity and myriad hosts, still lives on…




[i] https://www.britannica.com/biography/Robert-Burns

[ii] https://www.britannica.com/topic/Auld-Lang-Syne

[iii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Clark%27s_New_Year%27s_Rockin%27_Eve