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Introduction

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

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

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A lover's lament

This manuscript, written in a nobleman's commonplace book from the 1660s, may be the earliest surviving rendering of a ballad beginning "Should old acquaintance be forgot." Various versions of this text circulated in manuscript during the seventeenth century before it was printed in broadside form and eventually in James Watson's Choice Collection of Comic and Serious Scots Poems (1711). Though the first line is familiar, the rest of the text bears little resemblance to the enduring version published over a century later. While Burns's "Auld Lang Syne" stirs pleasant memories of carefree companionship, the "old acquaintance" of this ballad is a faithless lover ("Thou art the most disloyall maid that ever my eye hath seen"), its narrator full of bitterness and regret.

"Old Long Syne"
Manuscript commonplace book of James Crichton, 2nd Viscount Frendraught, 1667
Private collection


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