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Auld Lang Syne

For Auld Lang Syne (English translation: For The Olden Times)

kickin-out-150x150Artist: Janet McCrorie

On New Year’s Eve, as the clock strikes midnight and we turn from one year to the next, everyone across the Globe gathers to sing “Auld Lang Syne.”

But what does it all mean? Who wrote it? And what is it we are supposed to be doing with our hands?

So, here goes…

“Auld Lang Syne” is much older than any other popular song we sing during the festive season. It actually dates back to 1788, when it was published by Scottish poet, Robert Burns, who lived in Scotland from 1759 to 1796. Over 220 years later, we’re still using the familiar poem to say goodbye to the past year.

Here’s a look at the meaning of “Auld Lang Syne.”

The phrase “Auld Lang Syne” appears in other poems that predate Burns’ more famous work. Allan Ramsey, for example, (1686-1758) wrote a similar poem and James Watson published similar poems in 1711. In fact, the first verse in the poem Watson published begins almost the same way as Burns.

“Auld Lang Syne” itself can be translated to “old long since” so it’s similar to the “Once upon a time” phrase used to open fairy tales. Since Burns wrote “for auld lang syne” the way the phrase is used in the poem is translated to “for (the sake of) old times.”

Here’s the first verse of the Watson 1711 poem:

Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon;
The flames of Love extinguished,
and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,
that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
On old long syne.

Here’s Burns’ first verse:

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

tartan-embrace-150x150Artist: Janet McCrorie

Burns sent “Auld Lang Syne” to two publishers. The first, James Johnson, published it in 1796 with a Scottish melody Burns was not a fan of. Three years after Burns died, George Thompson published it and set it to the turn of “Sir Alexander Don’s Strathspey” (a type of dance.) This is the same melody used to this day.

The song became so popular in Scotland that Scottish immigrants sang it wherever they went, spreading the song around the world. For example, during the famous 1914 Christmas truce during World War I, both British and German soldiers sang “Auld Lang Syne.” In 1925, Charlie Chaplin had characters sing “Auld Lang Syne” in The Gold Rush, even though it was a silent film.

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The song also became popular in Southeast Asia and Japanese department stores use it to let customers know they are closing for the day. In Japan, the tune of “Auld Lang Syne” is set to the folk song “Hotaru no Hikari.”

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The Japanese lyrics are about students using a firefly’s light to keep studying in the dark. However, it is soon time to leave studying behind. The song is also often performed at graduations.

Long before Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest helped millions of Americans ring in the New Year, there was bandleader, Guy Lombardo. In 1928, Lombardo and his band, the Royal Canadians, played their first New Year’s Eve broadcast. The following year, they performed the first ever nationwide broadcast from the Roosevelt Hotel and performed live from the hotel every year until 1954. They switched to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and continued performing ever year until 1976. Lombardo, who died in November 1977, became known as “Mr. New Year’s Eve.” After his death, his band rang in the New Year with broadcasts for two more years.

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In 1929, Lombardo and his orchestra played “Auld Lang Syne” just as the clock was striking midnight. Lombardo was inspired to play the song after hearing it from Scottish immigrants in Ontario. (Lombardo was born in London, Ontario.) He performed the song as a segue between one broadcast and the next.

Sadly, Lombardo’s role in helping millions of Americans celebrate a new year with “Auld Lang Syne” is mostly forgotten today.

In Scotland, the Song is Sung as Part of Hogmanay Celebrations.

584727-7Artist Gail Wendorf; Painting, Old New Year Ceilidh

In Scotland, where Burns is the National Poet, singing “Auld Lang Syne” is party of Hogmanay celebrations. Hogmanay is the Scottish word for the last day of the year. The celebration in Edinburgh has become world famous and features a Concert in the Garden that is sold out this year.

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It’s tradition in Scotland to sing “Auld Lang Syne” while in a circle, holding hands. When the crowd reaches the last verse, which begins with “And there’s a hand my trusty friend,” everyone crosses their arms so the right hand reaches out to their neighbor’s left hand. At the end of the song, you rush into the center and turn, so that when everyone leaves the center they are now facing outwards – looking towards the new year.

Rob Reiner’s When Harry Met Sally…, which was written by Nora Ephron, reaches a climax on New Year’s Eve. As “Auld Lang Syne” plays at the party, Billy Crystal’s Harry wonders what the song is all about.

“What does this song mean? My whole life, I don’t know what this song means,” Harry asks Sally. “I mean, ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot’? Does that mean we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we happen to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot them?”

“Well, maybe it just means that we should remember that we forgot them or something. Anyway, it’s about old friends,” Sally (Meg Ryan) tells Harry. She was right.

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Burns didn’t really mean that we should forget old acquaintances. The song is really meant to be about “preserving old friendships and looking back over the events of the year.” So, if you do forget about old acquaintances, you can look back on the year and remember them.

Here are the complete “Auld Lang Syne” lyrics by Robert Burns:

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.

And surely ye’ll be your pint stowp!
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou’d the gowan fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony 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 gude-willie-waught,
For 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.

The third part of my Robert Burns documentary trilogy, The Secret Rock ‘n’ Roll Life of Robert Burns, will be broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland on Burns Day 2017.

Meantime, Happy New Year to you all – for Auld Lang Syne.

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Love Poems by Pablo Neruda

Still my two most favourite love poems. Happy Valentine’s Day.

KEARA MURPHY

Love Sonnet: XVII
I Don’t Love You As If You Were A Rose

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
Or arrow of carnations that propagate the fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
Secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
The light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
And thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
From the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems, or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way
to love,
Except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
So close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
So close that your eyes close with my…

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The Kissing Trees

These are the beautiful Kissing Trees on the back road from Kinghorn, Fife. I chose them as my pick-of-the-day to share on The Late Show last night. They were photographed beautifully by Elaine Orourke – who grew up near them and her family tradition is to always kiss whomever you are with when passing under them.

The Kissing Trees in a Blue Sky

Elaine kindly sent me these images yesterday and gave me permission to share them with the people of Scotland, however it was not able to be featured on the show for production reasons. How beautiful they are, though, so I wanted to share them with you today anyway.

The Kissing Trees on The Road

I want to know who planted them: was it an old couple who planted them so as they could be connected forever in nature? Are there remains of them scattered – or buried – there? Was this a young couple in love? – or the partner of a lost love? Or is this just a happy accident of nature?

The Kissing Trees Purple Haze

Nonetheless, they are intriguing and beautiful. There are no trees around them. And each tree stands alone in a separate field divided by a road – but through the years their branches have become slowly entwined. Two loving trees – possibly representing human love – united forever on the land and immortalised in film through some amazing photography.

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For all the lovers,
Keara XX

Ferdinand

Source: Ferdinand

Archie

Source: Archie

Remembering the Freedom of Choice

KEARA MURPHY

Seventeen years ago my Dad died. He was born on the 7th of November and died five days and sixty-six years later, on the 12th November. I, therefore, remember my Dad particularly in November. I wear the Poppy for my Dad.

He saw active service in Cyprus and Korea with The Highland Light Infantry. The H.L.I. were based at Maryhill Barracks in Glasgow – nicknamed ‘Hell’s Last Issue’ because of their reputation for toughness. Their symbol was the elephant: tough and strong but also intelligent and kind. Dad was also active in the Parachute Regiment as a young man and remained involved with 15 Para at Yorkhill all his life. As an older man he went from bar-to-bar all across Glasgow in hail, rain and snow delivering and collecting Poppy Boxes to raise money for the war disabled. He enjoyed a pint, it’s true, and he liked bars, but there were times he was really worn…

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Introducing Mistress MacKenzie

KEARA MURPHY

Good morning, Stalkers!

I know it’s 20.49 on a Sunday evening. But it’s Saturday morning in Strathbungle – a region which lies between the upper-lowland-mid-Highlands and the inner estuary of my head.

Mistress MacKenzie's Cottage

Mistress MacKenzie lives there in The Midgie View Guest Hoose – in the village of Glenclootie (Valley of The Devil) – where she runs a small croft and broadcasts school lessons for the children of the isolated communities from her garden shed studio. On no account should you ever let your children listen to these lessons unless you approve of Voodoo.

She is very lonely so is looking for new stalkers. And a new husband. On no account should you snog her as she has Gingivitis.

Drop her a wee tweep (Scots for Tweet) @MistressMacKenzie using the hash tag #AskMistress and she will knit you a cardigan in your favourite colours. On no account should you wear it as she uses a…

View original post 260 more words

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