First publication of the Burns verses
"Auld Lang Syne"
The Scots Musical Museum, vol. 5
Edinburgh: Printed & sold by Johnson & Co., 1796
The James Fuld Music Collection, 2008
The now-familiar words of "Auld Lang Syne" were first published here, in the fifth volume of James Johnson's Scots Musical Museum, an invaluable compilation to which Burns was the principal contributor. The tune, however, is not the one we sing today. In fact, Johnson set an altogether different set of verses ("O Can Ye Labor Lea") to the air we now associate with "Auld Lang Syne." The Museum employed a code to indicate the source of each song; this entry was marked Z, for "old verses, with corrections or additions." It was Burns, of course, who had refurbished the traditional song, though he preferred to minimize his role.