CommGap International Language Services


Auld Lang Syne

December 31st, 2013

In the English-speaking world, it’s a long-standing tradition to hear the song “Auld Lang Syne” at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve to celebrate the arrival of the new year. But have you ever wondered, while mumbling through the oft-forgotten lyrics of this song, what the title even means?

This phrase originally comes from the Scots language, which is a German language variety still spoken today in parts of Scotland. The phrase literally means “old long since” but it could be translated in English as “long ago” or more idiomatically “the good old times.” It came from a poem originally written by Robert Burns in 1788 and was set to a folk tune that was popular at the time. The song itself became associated with New Year’s celebrations in 1929, when Guy Lombardo, a Canadian-American bandleader played it on a radio program during a live performance at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York right at the turn of the new year.

So this year, don’t forget to impress your fellow revelers with your knowledge of the translation of this famous phrase. And while you’re at it, memorize the song so when the clock strikes 12, you can lead your friends and family in singing the real deal:

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and never brought to mind?

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,

for auld lang syne,

we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.

(This is typically as far as the song goes during celebrations. The following are additional verses to the song.)

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!

and surely I’ll buy mine!

And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.


We two have run about the slopes,

and picked the daisies fine ;

But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,

since auld lang syne.


We two have paddled in the stream,

from morning sun till dine;

But seas between us broad have roared

since auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand my trusty friend!

And give me a hand o’ thine!

And we’ll take a right good-will draught,

for auld lang syne.