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A lover's lament, 1667

Ramsay's "Auld Lang Syne", 1724

Ramsay's version, reprinted with music, 1787

A Caledonian country dance, 1760s

William Shield's Rosina, 1783?

The tune of "Auld Lang Syne", 1792

First publication of the Burns verses, 1796

An old song of olden times, 1793

Words and melody, together at last, 1799

A question of authorship, 1817

A 19th century revision, 1856–1860

Kipling's wartime version, 1900

Learn the whole song

More online exhibitions


Exhibitions | Online | Auld Lang Syne: The Story of a Song

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Words and melody, together at last

Listen to/download music:
In 1799, a few years after Burns had died, "Auld Lang Syne" as we know it appeared in print for the first time. While the words had already been published with a different tune, and the tune had been published with different words, it was George Thomson, an Edinburgh-based music seller and amateur musician, who finally brought them together in his Select Collection of Original Scotish Airs, a major compilation to which Burns contributed countless songs. Thomson claimed (on the left-hand page) that his source was "an old MS. in the editor's possession," when in fact Burns had sent him the text just a few years before. In later editions, Thomson dropped the misleading word old.

"Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot"
A Select Collection of Original Scotish Airs for the Voice
London: printed & sold by Preston; sold also by the proprietor G[eorge] Thomson, Edinburgh, 1799
James Fuld Music Collection, 2008

Piano: Renate Rohlfing

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.