Auld Lang Syne the song for the New Year

SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil - The Philippine Star

Barry Manilow is right. As he says in the hit song he co-wrote with Marty Panzer back in the ’70s, It’s Just Another New Year’s Eve.  It is a day just like any other day. I often imagine those words said with a sad face and a shoulder shrug. Nothing to the New Year really.

 But we can make it otherwise. A New Year can be good, different and memorable. Most of all, we can wish all the days to follow to be happy and fruitful. A day is only how you make it and we have been making New Year’s Day a time for endings and hopefully beautiful beginnings since mankind learned how to use a calendar.

The song that traditionally accompanies these rites is Auld Lang Syne. It is believed to mean, ”old long time” or something similar. This was originally a Scottish folk poem that was handed down orally across generations. It took the much-admired 18th century poet and lyricist Robert Burns to put it down on paper. He is believed to have added a stanza or two and then set the lyrics into a melody of a traditional folk song way back in the 1780s. 

Burns was the leading figure in the Romantic Movement. He was named the greatest Scotsman who ever lived in a recent poll. He also wrote other famous verses like My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose and A Man’s A Man For A That. But he is now better known as the writer of Auld Lang Syne. As Scots, English and other peoples from the British Isles migrated to other parts of the world they also brought their customs with them. Those included the tradition of ending the old year with the sound of Auld Lang Syne.

Auld Lang Syne is about parting and is often sung to the accompaniment of bagpipes and drums. It is now also played during culminating occasions like graduations or the end of any undertaking where the participants despite promises to the contrary, know they will never see each other again. It is a sad song that often brings listeners to tears and can also be heard during funerals.

Here is how it goes. Note that this is not Burns’ original set of lyrics. That one is in Scottish brogue.  Thank heaven that somebody somewhere during these past 300 years thoughtfully provided the song’s lyrics with a translation that most English speaking people can understand.

“Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot and old lang syne?

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 of 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.”

Another year has ended. Once again we have been given the opportunity for renewal. We pray to become better human beings worthy of the privilege to be part of this New Year. We are now looking forward to a safe, enjoyable, productive and exciting 2016. 

But just like Auld Lang Syne says, we are hopeful that we will have cups of kindness to share with friends and loved ones who have been part of our journey. 

Happy New Year. May yours be a happy, blessed one.

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