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Monday, January 3, 2011

Auld Lang Syne

I had trouble thinking about what to write about for my first column of the new year. I decided to start off with a common song that's often sung at the stroke of midnight: Auld Lang Syne. I found a short history of this song, part of a longer article, that I couldn't re-find on the web.

Mr. Stephen Lynch of the Orange County Register writes:

Auld Lang Syne means "old long since" and is adapted from a traditional Scottish folk tune. The basic words date to at least 1711, though some scholars say it was mentioned as early as 1677. Scottish poet Robert Burns is credited with first publishing it, in the mid-1790s, and, researchers say, smoothing out some of the verses and changing the melody.

The song recalls the days gone by and says we will always remember them. "Should auld acquaintance be forgot?" it asks. No, the chorus replies: "For auld lang syne (for times gone by), we'll tak (drink) a cup o' kindness yet."

As for the other lyrics, Verse 2 refers to friends at separate places (or pubs), drinking to each other. Verses 3 and 4 talk about a long journey to find that friend, running "about the braes" (hillsides), and "pou'd the gowans fine" (pulled the pretty daisies), and getting tired doing so ("wander'd mony a weary fit," or "a weary foot" depending on the version). It continues with wading streams ("paidl'd in the burn"), from dusk until dinnertime, but even then, broad ("braid") seas roar between them.

But finally, in the last verse, the friends find each other. And they "tak a right guid-willie waught" ("drink a goodwill drink") for times gone by.


Here is the song:

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

Chorus (repeated between stanzas):
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint stoop
And surely I'll be mine
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes
And pou'd the gowans fine
But we've wander'd mony a weary foot
Sin' auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl'd i' the burn
Frae mornin' sun till dine
But seas between us braid hae roared
Sin' auld lang syne.

And here's a hand, my trusty fiere
And gi'e's a hand o' thine
And we'll tak a right good willy waught
For auld lang syne.


For me, I am saddened by the fast passage of time, and new year's day just seems to emphasize this. My kids tease me about being "old" and living with Truman or even Hoover, but you know, when those gentlemen were president life for everyone felt real and immediate, just as it does now. Watching movies from the eighties I'm surprised at how dated things seem, and how old the actors look now. I remember going to the theater when these movies were brand new.

The point is to trust and pray. Keep striving, keep pushing forward. Learn from the past, treasure it, but don't stay there however tempting it may be. You never know what's in store.

Happy new year, to my dear friends both here and gone.

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