Many people sing "Auld Lang Syne" every New Year's Eve as the old year goes out and the new year comes in. It is interesting that people don't know the origin of the song or all the words to the song they hear at least once a year. In fact, many people know only the rhetorical question in the first line and no other words in the song.

Origin of the song

It is a Scottish folk song used to celebrate the end of something. The expression "Auld Lang Syne" means “for old times’ sake.” It was originally written as a poem. The Scottish poet Robert Burns has been credited with being the first to write the poem on paper even though he admitted that he was not the original writer of it.

He sent the words to the Scots Musical Museum in 1788.

The song began in Scotland, but it did not remain there. It became part of New Year's Eve celebrations around the globe. The message of the song is to honor friends and to reminisce about the year gone by.

Lyrics for the song have changed over the years mainly because it was first sung in the original Scotish language that most people don't understand today. During a celebration, the entire group may start out singing the first few words, "Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot, and old lang syne?" After those lines, people just mouth some words and others stop singing completely.

The song is sung within minutes on New Year's Eve when the clock strikes midnight to be a farewell to the past year.

It is interesting to know that the song is also sung at funerals, graduations, and retirement parties. It would be appropriate for it to be sung to mark the ending of other major events.

The tune is used in some countries for their national anthems. Japanese department stores play it so customers will leave at closing time.

Singers of the song

Since "Auld Lang Syne" is a public domain song, several singers have recorded it in their own style. Mariah Carey is well-known for singing it on ABC’s “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” hosted by Ryan Seacrest and Jenny McCarthy in New York. In Carey's version, she repeats the first two parts of the song over an increasingly fast beat.

Susan Boyle's style is quite different. Others who have recorded their version of the song include Bruce Springsteen, Lea Michele, Bobby Womack, and Gloria Estefan.

Do you know all the words to "Auld Lang Syne"? If not, don't feel bad because you are among the majority.