Auld Lang Syne , a Scottish song best known to French speakers as “ It’s only a goodbye” , means in Scots ( Lallans dialect) 1 “For a long time”, “The days of long ago”, ” The days of yore “, or also the” old date friendship “. In French and in English, this song is often repeated in the New Year or at the end of friendly meetings or certain Masonic ceremonies, as well as by a Catholic song ( Let’s always be united )!

We must transcription and publication of this ancient ballad Scottish to the poet Robert Burns at the end of the xviii th century , from fragments of a Scottish song oldest 2 . In 1920 , Father Jacques Sevin wrote the French lyrics.

She is also one of the many and varied Volkslieder (Popular songs) re-harmonized by Beethoven in his collection Twelve Scottish songs , WoO 156 ( 1818 ), in a harmonization for soprano, tenor and bass, accompanied by violin, cello and piano.


Original text Translation

Should Acquaintance be Forgot
And Never Brought to Mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll take a cup o’kindness yet
For auld lang syne We’re going to be around

the braes
And for the gowans fine
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fitt
Sin ‘auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn
Frae morning sun till dine
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin ‘auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty feire
And gie’s a hand o ‘thine
And we’

And surely you’ll be pint-stowp
And surely I’ll be mine
And we’ll take a cup o’kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

Should we forget the friends
do not remember?
Should we forget the friends in
the days of the past?

The days of the past time, friend
the days of time spent
Let’s drink together to the tenderness
to the days of the past time.

We have both traveled
each day with a light heart
and twists a long way
since time passed.

We have both struggled
from sunrise to sunset
Oceans have separated us
from past time

Here is my faithful friend hand
give your hand to friendship
And we will drink a long time
to the days of time gone by.

And you offer the first drink
and I offer my tour
Let us drink together with tenderness
in the days of the past.


Adaptation of French scouts


Secular Adaptation: The Song of Farewells


This is the traditional song of Hogmanay on New Year’s Eve . This use conquered the entire English-speaking world so that this anthem is spoken of as “a song no one knows” as the lyrics are inversely popular with music.

This song, in its version Chant des Farewells , is sometimes sung at the end of the Masonic outfits, during the “chain of union”, that is to say just before the Freemasons separate.

Under the title Singing of Unity , this tune has also become a church song with the following chorus: Let’s stay united, my brothers, | Jesus is among us, | As He promised us, my brothers, | If we all love each other. (words of J. Pihan)

Each year during the evening The Last Night of The Proms at Royal Albert Hall in London , spectators have established the tradition of singing Auld Lang Syne after the concert, even if the song is not on the official program.

In Japan , the melody of this song is very famous as Hotaru no hikari ( 蛍 の 光 , Fire of a Firefly ). This song has been translated into Japanese during the period Meiji (late xix th centuryand beginning of the xx th ) and is sung as separation song during graduation ceremonies. Almost all Japanese know it. It is often distributed in stores and public places to indicate the impending closure.

“Aegukga”, national anthem of the Republic of Korea

A rallying song in Taiwan , this melody was, until 1910, that of Aegukga , the Korean national anthem .

In the movie The Gendarme in New York , the international congress gendarmerie ends with a resumption in chorus of this song.

Auld Lang Syne appears in numerous films, including Waterloo Bridge of Mervyn LeRoy ( Waterloo Bridge , 1940), the famous film of Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush ( The Gold Rush , 1925) Life is beautiful (1946) by Franck Capra, at the end of When Harry meets Sally ( When Harry puts Sally , 1989) and Heroes in spite of himself ( Accidental Hero, 1992) , Sex And The City (2008), in Happy New Year ( New Year’s Eve, 2011) or in the final episode of the English series Downton Abbey (2015), The Savors of the Palace (2012) and Café Society (2016).


  • Prince in the album “Miles From The Park” in a medley “Purple Rain / Auld Lang Syne”, 1987
  • Mariah Carey, Auld Lang Syne, The New Year’s Anthem, 2010
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • The American punk band MxPx
  • American punk band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
  • Boney M. on the album Christmas Party
  • The American punk band So What!
  • The group Pink Martini on his album “Joy to the World”
  • Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies
  • Lea Michele in the movie Happy New Year
  • Slade in 1985 in the album Crackers
  • Jimi Hendrix Live at The Fillmore East
  • Canadian Celtic punk band The Real McKenzies on the album “Clash Of the Tartans”
  • The Trojans ska group in their album Celtic Ska.
  • Celtic Salsa Group: Salsa Celtica.
  • We will hang our clothes on the line Siegfried by the British army in 1939

Notes and references

  1. ↑ The Scots Dialect Dictionary, compiled by Alexander Warrack, MA, Waverley Books, New Lanark 2000 ( ISBN  1-902407-09-1 ) “
  2. ↑ ( in ) About “Auld Lang Syne”  [ archive ]