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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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First publication of the Burns verses

Listen to/download music:
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.

"Auld Lang Syne"
The Scots Musical Museum, vol. 5
Edinburgh: Printed & sold by Johnson & Co., 1796
The 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.