Thursday, December 30, 2010

Auld Lang Syne: a New Year's Tradition

"Auld Lang Syne" is a popular song sung on New Year's Eve by many Americans; however, the song is Scottish in origin. The poet Robert Burns first published the old Scottish song in the 1796 edition of Scots Musical Museum. He transcribed and made some refinements to the song after he had heard it sung in his native Scotland.

Many people sing the song and really don't know what the lyrics mean. "Auld Lang Syne" means "times gone by" but the literal translation is "old long since." The song poses the question of whether old times and friends will be forgotten, yet it promises to remember those from the past with kind thoughts.

However, the song owes its popularity to the bandleader Guy Lombardo. Lombardo, a Canadian by birth, heard the song in London, Ontario. When he and his brothers formed a dance band, the Royal Canadians, the song became one of their standards. It was played at midnight at the New Year's Eve party at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City in 1929, and that marked the beginning of a tradition.

From the 1930s until 1976 the song was played at New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel marking the end of one year and the beginning of the next. Since the band was on the radio and later on television that song played in many peoples' homes. Life magazine wrote, "If Lombardo failed to play 'Auld Lang Syne,' the American public would not believe that the new year had really arrived."

CDPL has several CDs that include "Auld Lang Syne" on their playlist. Check one out so that you may continue the New Year's tradition.


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