Dec 31, 2012

What is that New Year's Eve song?

Chloe of Grand Haven asked, "What in the world does 'Old Lane Sign' mean and why do people always sing it at New Year's Eve?"


It's actually "Auld Lang Syne," and it's been a tradition to send off the old year by singing the old Scottish song since at least the late 1920s.

According to the TLC "How Stuff Works" website, the song was first written down in the 1700s. It is associated with Scottish poet Robert Burns, whose transcription got the most attention.

A good translation of the words "auld lang syne" is "times gone by."

From the website comes this explanation:

"Robert Burns sent a copy of the original song to the British Museum with this 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's singing, is enough to recommend any air.' (Burns) set it to a traditional Scottish air that is quite different than the popularized version."

It was Canadian band leader Guy Lombardo who brought the old song prominence in America when he sang the song at midnight Jan. 1, 1929, in the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. His orchestra played the song every New Year's Eve for live broadcasts from New York until 1976. Ask your grandparents about Guy Lombardo, Chloe.

Here's the words Burns wrote down:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And auld lang syne?


   For auld lang syne, my dear,

   For auld lang syne.

   We'll take 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 take a cup o' kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes

And pou'd the gowans fine.

We've wandered mony a weary foot,

Sin' auld lang syne.

We twa hae sported i' the burn,

From morning sun till dine,

But seas between us braid hae roared

Sin' auld lang syne.

And ther's a hand, my trusty friend,

And gie's a hand o' thine;

We'll tak' a right good willie-waught,,

For auld lang syne.

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