'Auld Lang Syne' Lyrics And Meaning Explained For New Year's Eve 2020

One of the most popular New Year's Eve ballads is also one of the most mumbled through, so before the ball drops on Wednesday, it's probably a good idea to brush up on your familiarity with "Auld Lang Syne."

To be fair, mumbling along to the lyrics may partly come from the fact that parts of the song aren't in English. The words to "Auld Lang Syne," attributed to Scottish poet Robert Burns, tell a tale of old friends reminiscing about fun times they had in years past.

Translated from Scottish, the song's title is "Old Long Since." Most people know the first two lines of the song, "Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?" but sometimes instead of "auld" they sing "old." While the mistaken word maintains the same meaning, as "auld" means "old" in Scottish, the correct word is "auld."

As the two friends drink, they toast to running through the slopes picking daisies and spending the day paddling down a stream.

auld lang syne lyrics meaning new year's
The lyrics of "Auld Lang Syne," by Scottish poet Robert Burns, are printed on a wall as part of an exhibition at New York's Morgan Library & Museum on December 9, 2011. It doesn't mention New Year's specifically, but the song about old friends has become a staple of end-of-year celebrations. EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty

"Auld Lang Syne" lyrics, according to CNN:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And auld lang syne.

Chorus

For auld lang syne, my jo,

For auld lang syne.

We'll take 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.

Chorus

We twa hae run about the braes

And pu'd the gowans fine

But we've wander'd mony a weary foot

Sin auld lang syne.

Chorus

We twa hae paidl'd i' the burn

Frae mornin' sun till dine.

But seas between us braid hae roar'd

Sin auld lang syne.

Chorus

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!

And gie's a hand o' thine!

And we'll tak a right guid willy waught,

For auld lang syne.

Chorus

Lyrics to the song may differ, depending on the version that's playing after the ball drops. Encyclopedia Britannica notes that even the copies put on paper by Burns himself had differing lyrics.

Some versions swap "jo," an endearing Scottish term, for its English translation: "dear." Below are lyrics to a popular version of the song using only English words, save for "auld lang syne":

Should old acquaintance be forgot

And never brought to mind?

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

And long, long ago.

Chorus

And for long, long ago, my dear

For long, long ago.

We'll take a cup of kindness yet

For long, long ago.

And surely you'll buy your pint-jug!

And surely I'll buy mine!

And we'll take a cup of kindness yet

For long, long ago.

Chorus

We two have run about the hills

And pulled the daisies fine;

But we've wandered manys the weary foot

Since long, long ago.

Chorus

We two have paddled in the stream,

From morning sun till dine;

But seas between us broad have roared

Since long, long ago.

Chorus

And there's a hand, my trusty friend!

And give us a hand of yours!

And we'll take a deep draught of good-will

For long, long ago.

Chorus

Burns wrote "Auld Lang Syne" in 1788, yet it was published only after his death in 1796, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. It wasn't until 1799 that the words and music that people today know as "Auld Lang Syne" appeared together.

When the Scots sing the song to celebrate the end of the year, it's common to stand in a circle and hold hands. At the final verse, the tradition is for everyone to run to the circle's center.