Auld Lang Syne Words and Meaning

Don't be left speechless when the bells chime and everyone crosses arms to sing in the new year at Hogmanay or when celebrating Burns Night. These are the words to Auld Lang Syne, with glossary for those less obvious Scots words at the end.

The words for Auld Lang Syne are adapated from a traditional song by Rabbie Burns (1759-96)

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!

And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp,
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 pou'd the gowans fine,
But we've wander'd monie a weary fit,
Sin auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl'd in 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 guid-willie waught,
For auld lang syne

Auld Lang Syne Meanings

auld lang syne - times gone by
be - pay for
braes - hills
braid - broad
burn - stream
dine - dinner time
fiere - friend
fit - foot
gowans - daisies
guid-willie waught - goodwill drink
monie - many
morning sun - noon
paidl't - paddled
pint-stowp - pint tankard
pou'd - pulled
twa - two

Auld Lang Syne historical facts

  • Written in 1788 by Robert Burns and sung to a traditional Scottish folk melody, the song's title literally means 'old long since', but is the equivalent of such sayings as 'for old time's sake'
  • Singing the song in Scotland at Hogmanay (New Year's Eve) quickly became a Scots custom that spread across the world, as Scots emigrated and took the song with them
  • Canadian band leader Guy Lombardo is often credited with popularising the use of the song at New Year's celebrations in North America, through his annual broadcasts on radio and television beginning in 1929, although it is recorded as ushering in the New Year in the United States much earlier in the 19th century
  • Its first appearance in films was in the Charlie Chaplin movie The Gold Rush, re-released with added sound in 1942, where it is sung at a New Year's Eve party
  • In Japan, Auld Lang Syne is played daily to mark closing time in most large department stores, while in China it is one of the most popular mobile phone ring tones all year round
  • In Brazil, Portugal, France, Spain, Greece, Poland and Germany the song is used to mark a farewell
  • In India, the melody was the direct inspiration for the popular Bengali song 'Purano shei diner kotha' (About the old days) composed by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, and forms one of the more recognizable tunes in Rabindra Sangeet (Rabindra's Songs), a body of work of 2,230 songs and lyrical poems that form the backbone of Bengali music
  • In the Philippines, it is well known and sung at celebrations like graduations, New Year and Christmas Day.
  • In Latin America, a salsa version of Auld Lang Syne recorded by Salsa Celtica is a regular fixture in salsa clubs, while other recording artists who have made their mark on the famous track include Funk legend James Brown and even Elvis
  • Syne is pronounced like sign - never zyne
  • And the refrain is "For auld lang syne" - rather than "For the sake of auld lang syne"