“Auld Lang Syne” is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song. It is well known in many countries, especially in the English-speaking world; its traditional use being to celebrate the start of the New Year at the stroke of midnight. By extension, it is also sung at funerals, graduations and as a farewell or ending to other occasions. The international Boy Scout youth movement, in many countries, uses it as a close to jamborees and other functions.
The song’s Scots title may be translated into English literally as “old long since”, or more idiomatically, “long long ago”, “days gone by” or “old times”. Consequently “For auld lang syne”, as it appears in the first line of the chorus, might be loosely translated as “for (the sake of) old times”.
Here is an old kinescope from over 50 years ago!! For 100 years, the slow drop of a lighted glass ball on New Year’s Eve from atop One Times Square in New York City has become an American tradition. A huge crowd gathers every year to welcome in the New Year.
Beginning in 1956, Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians entertained the US on New Year’s Eve with a combination of music and the live “ball drop” at Midnight. Guy continued this tradition until his death in 1977. His band still played on at CBS Television on New Years for an additional 2 years. (Dick Clark’s Rockin New Years Eve began in 1972 on ABC and still broadcasts annually.) This broadcast began right after the 15-minute news and ran for an hour. Guy plays the music and newsman Robert Trout announces the beginning of the New Year.
If you look closely, you’ll see acerbic television personality Henry Morgan in the crowd. TV was very primitive 50 years ago. Harsh lighting, a cheap office clock and a World War II searchlight scans the crowd below. I hope you’ll enjoy ringing in the New Year – 1958! Recorded: December 31, 1957.