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Why I won't be singing Old Lang Syne on New Years Eve

Updated on December 31, 2015

I originally thought that singing Old Lang Syne at New Year was a tradition born from some sort of Christian religious reasoning, but as I looked further into it I discovered that the reason we sing Old Lang Syne is more commercial than religious. In fact, it wasn't even written by Robert Burns. Despite popular belief to the contrary, the original poem was simply transcribed to Burns by an "old man" and sent to the Scottish Musical Museum for historical purposes.

Singing Old Lang Syne originally became 'traditional' after a the Canadian Royal Band and Guy Lombardo sang it at midnight on a radio show broadcast from the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City; where it was repeated later on. The song had been sung previously at New Year but nowhere near the level of popularity it would go on to develop from the radio broadcast.

No one knows the words

Whilst I like the sentiment that the song provides (about having a toast to old friends and not forgetting them), unless you're a Scot you probably don't know anything other than the first verse and chorus. After that, anyone left singing the second verse is usually mumbling their way through it...just like the second verse of God Save the Queen.

It looks to the past, not the future

Surely going into a new year, we want to look ahead, not behind?

It's not very English (or American/Irish/Welsh/Australia for that matter)

Whilst I'd consider myself a proud Brit, I'd also consider myself an even stronger Englishman. The lyrics are supposed to be spoken in a Scot dialect and that's just not cricket in my book. I'd prefer something a bit more 'English' to be sung by my friends and family. Perhaps something like 'Jerusalem' by Sir Hubert Parry and based on the words by English poet William Blake called "And did those feet in ancient time":

"I will not cease from mental fight,

Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,

Till we have built Jerusalem

In England's green and pleasant land."


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