By Lana Turnbull
“For auld lang syne, my dear, For auld lang syne.
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, For auld lang syne.”
I’m sure when Robert Burns, Scotland’s national bard, popularized the verses of “Auld Lang Syne” in 1788, he had no idea these words, set to the melody of a traditional folk tune, would someday help usher in the New Year for millions of people around the world.
Even before it became as synonymous with ringing in the New Year as champagne and party hats, “Auld Lange Syne” and its message of fond remembrance and good will was an international favorite. During the Christmas Truce at the start of World War I, for a brief moment the guns fell silent and troops from both sides left the trenches to swap souvenirs and sing songs. According to a letter from Sir Edward Hulse, of the Scots Guards, the British and German soldiers joined together to sing familiar carols and Auld Lang Syne.
On New Years Eve in 1929, Guy Lombardo and his band served to immortalize “Auld Lang Syne” as an annual New Year’s tradition, when they took to the stage at the Roosevelt Hotel and began to play the eighteenth-century tune. Their performance that night was broadcast on the radio, before midnight Eastern-time on CBS, then after on NBC radio. The rest, as they say is history.
So, what is so endearing about the sentiment expressed in the words of this old familiar song? Maybe it is that it so quaintly articulates our wistfulness at leaving the old year behind, along with the old friends and loved ones that won’t be around to share the New Year with us. It reminds us to treasure those we hold dear and to not forget to tell them what they mean to us while we can. And it celebrates the bonds we share that are unbroken in spite of the time and distance that may separate us.
New Year’s Eve has come and gone and the confetti and noisemakers are put away until next year, but let’s take a minute and think about the words of “Auld Lang Syne.” Let’s let them be a reminder that time is fleeting, the past may be gone forever, but love, when we are blessed to find it, is eternal.