Singing Auld Lang Syne

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By Hermione Gray

IT WOULDN'T be New Year without it. Auld Lang Syne is a song to stir the sternest heart, but do you know what it means? Most people have an idea that it's about old times' sake, or something similar.

The words 'Auld lang syne' (literally old long since) do mean times long gone.

The song is usually attributed to Robert Burns but, according to Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, Burns had simply created a new version of a much older song.

Burns wrote his version in 1796, but in Watson's Collection, it was attributed to Francis Sempill, who lived a century earlier. However, the song is likely to be even older: Burns wrote in a letter, 'It is the old song of the olden times, which has never been in print...I took it down from an old man's singing.'

The correct way to sing the first verse and chorus is:

Should auld aquaintance be forgot
And never brought to min'
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o' auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

A common mistake is singing, 'or the sake of auld lang syne'at the end of the verse and chorus. And arms shouldn't be crossed until the second verse!


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