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Burns wrote the text in their own words from the mouth of a Scottish man and edited it on the way of old Scottish ballads. Possible he based partly on an earlier version byRobert Ayton. He made also a melody in there, though that's not the tune now used. This melody is known worldwide, even in non-English-speaking countries, and is generally more famous than the text.
The song is traditionally sung at the transition from the old to the new year, Hogmanayin Scotland. The singers are in a circle; during the first verse they hold each other's hand, the second are the poor in crochet and at the third circuit itself successively moves inward and outward. With the emigration of Scots to other English-speaking countries the song was, and with it the tradition, preserved.
The song is melancholic by nature and is, also on other occasions than new year, used as farewell song. The text refers to the memories of old times, to which one thinks back together with a glass of good.
Also in non-English countries such as Japan, Taiwan, Korea and the Philippines is the song used, among other things on occasions such as certification ceremonies and funerals. In Dutch it is known as I tell you no goodbye my friend. In the Netherlands is also known as melody of the chorus of football song we love Orange .
original text of Burns English translation
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne?
- For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne, We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet, for auld lang syne.
Ye'll be your pint-stowp And surely! 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 pu'd the gowans fine; But we've wander'd mony a weary fit, sin auld lang syne.
We twa hae paidl'd i ' the burn, frae morning sun till dine; But seas between us braid hae roar'd sin auld lang syne.
And there's a hand, my trusty fiere! and gie's a hand o' thine! And we'll tak a right gude-willy waught, for auld lang syne.
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot, and old lang syne1?
- For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne, We'll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.
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 dine2; 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.
1 syne = "since" or "then" 2 dine = "dinner time"
- The song is used in the films it's a Wonderful Life (1946), ocean's 11 (1960), When Harry Met Sally ... (1989), Sex and the City: The Movie (2008) and New year's Eve (2011).
- Several artists, including Mariah Carey, The Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Lea Michele and Billy Joel, have the song played.