Christmas Auld Lang Syne

December 23, 2008, 4:00 pm; posted by
Filed under Articles, Connie, Featured  | 1 Comment

The last in the series from Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas.

From More Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas by Ace Collins:

Auld Lang Syne is one of the most familiar songs in the world. But this traditional New Year\’s Eve anthem wasn\’t even considered a holiday song until Dec 31, 1929. That night Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians played it at a huge celebration at NYC\’s Waldorf Astoria, complete with a radio link that beamed them across the nation. Just before ringing out the old year, he picked up his baton and launched into this number, and suddenly millions of Americans had the mistaken impression that Scottish poet Robert Burns had penned it just to welcome in the New Year.

It was probably chosen as the lead-up to the countdown because of the nation\’s dark mood. The stock market had crashed and the economy was in a shambles. Fortunes had been lost, people were out of work, and no one seemed able to stop the country\’s descent into a great depression. For Lombardo, a song that embraced the value and importance of friendships over worldly possessions seemed a perfect way to look back and find good things in a very bad year, while looking forward to the new decade that offered more hope. Sounds too familiar, doesn\’t it?

Elements of the original poem can be traced back to the 1500s, and a 1694 publication called Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence Display\’d, which quoted a sermon. In this Sunday morning homily, God said: “Jonah, now billy Jonah, wilt thou go to Nineveh, for Auld lang syne (old kindness).” Its subsequent reworking kept it mostly in the pubs for the next few hundred years, but about 30 years after Lombardo’s performance, Frank Military took another look at the song and took it in another direction — something that expressed the birth of Christ as a “yuletide valentine.” He built on the theme of ultimate love and told a story not just of trees and toys, but of answered prayers. In this version, cheer was not found in a drink, but in the spirit of those who knew the real meaning of the holiday.

More than 200 years ago, Robert Burns reworked an old Scottish poem about love and friendship into a song that evoked a longing for days gone by. A century and a half later, Guy Lombardo took that song and through its lucky placement on a set list, made it into a New Year\’s Eve tradition. But it would be Frank Military who would rework the lyrics again, shaping them back into a love song. Not earthly love this time, but rather a spiritual love that started before time began, was realized in a manger, and will live on forever.

When mistletoe and tinsel glow
Paint a yuletide valentine
Back home I go to those I know
For a Christmas auld lang syne

And as we gather ’round the tree
Our voices all combine
In sweet accord to thank our Lord
For a Christmas auld lang syne

When sleigh bells ring and choirs sing
And the children’s faces shine
With each new toy we share their joy
With a Christmas auld lang syne

We sing His praise this day of days
And pray next year this time
We’ll all be near to share the cheer
Of a Christmas auld lang syne

In sweet accord to thank our Lord
For a Christmas auld lang syne


1 Comment to “Christmas Auld Lang Syne”

  1. David on December 23rd, 2008 7:58 pm

    Wow, that is cool, We are facing an eerily similar New Years Eve.

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