Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Auld Lang Syne

Should old acquaintance be forgot,and never brought to mind ?Should old acquaintance be forgot,and 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.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !And surely I’ll buy mine !And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,for auld lang syne.
We two have run about the slopes,and picked the daisies fine ;But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,since auld lang syne.
We two have paddled in the stream,from morning sun till dine† ;But seas between us broad have roaredsince auld lang syne.
And there’s a hand my trusty friend !And give us a hand o’ thine !And we’ll take a right good-will draught,for auld lang syne.

Bro. Robert Burns is attributed to be the author of "Auld Lang Syne" which as we know is traditionally sang on New Year's Eve to say goodbye to the old year and to welcome in the New Year. Similar poems by Robert Ayton (1570–1638), Allan Ramsay (1686-1757) and James Watson (1711) as well as older folk songs, use the same phrase, and predate Burns.

Singing the song on Hogmanay or New Year's Day very quickly became a custom of the Scots which soon spread to other parts of the British Isles. As Scots and other Brits emigrated around the world, they took the song with them.

Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians are attributed to making the song famous in the United States. He and his band first performed this song in 1929.

"Auld Lang Syne" is usually sung each year at midnight on New Year's Day (Hogmany in Scotland) in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Hong Kong, and English-speaking areas of India, Pakistan, and Canada, and signifies the start of a new year.

In Scotland it is often sung at the end of a céilidh or a dance. It is common practice that everyone joins hands with the person next to them to form a great circle around the dance floor. At the beginning of the last verse everyone crosses their arms across their breast, so that the right hand reaches out to the neighbour on the left and vice versa. During the last chorus people might start jumping up and down. When the tune ends everyone rushes to the middle, while still holding hands. When the circle is re-established, everyone turns under the arms to end up facing outwards with hands still joined.

It is used as a graduation song and a funeral song in Taiwan and Hong Kong, symbolizing an end or a goodbye. In Japan and Hungary, too, it is used in graduation, and many stores and restaurants play it to usher customers out at the end of a business day. Before the composition of Aegukga, the lyrics of Korea’s national anthem were sung to the tune of this song. In the Indian Armed Forces, as well as the Pakistani Military, the band plays this song during the graduating parade of the recruits.

In the Philippines, it is well known and sung at celebrations like graduations, New Year and Christmas Day. Also, before 1972, it was the tune for the Gaumii salaam anthem of The Maldives (with the current words). In Thailand, it is used for Samakkkhi Chumnum(Together in unity), sung after sports.

In Brazil, Portugal, France, Spain, Greece, Poland and Germany this song is used to mark a farewell. It is also used in the Scout movement for the same purpose, but with lyrics that are a little different.

It has also been used on other occasions as a farewell. One occasion that falls in this category was in October 2000, when the body of former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau left Parliament Hill in Ottawa for the last time, going to Montreal for the state funeral.

Robert Burns was born on January 25, 1759 in the parish of Alloway, Aryshire, England. He was initiated as an Entered Apprentice on July 4, 1781 in Lodge St. David at Tarbloton, passed to the degree of a Fellowcraft and raised on October 1,1781 at the age of 23.

On July 27, 1784 he was installed as Deputy Master in Lodge St. James. In May of 1787 he received the Royal Arch degree in St. Ebbe's Lodge at Eyemouth. The brethren waived his initiatory fee as the felt so priviledge to have one of Burns' stature as a member of their lodge. In 1792 he was elected to the office of Senior Warden in Lodge St. Andrew at Dumfries.

In February 1787, Burns was made the Poet Laureate of Lodge Canongate Kilwinning No. 2, Edinburgh. Wallace McLeod, in his essay "Robert Burns", quotes the minute book, which states:
The Right Worshipful Master, having observed that Brother Burns was present in the lodge, who is well known as a great poetic writer, and for a late publication of his works, which have been universally commended, submitted that he should be assumed a [honourary] member of this lodge, which was unanimously agreed to, and he was assumed accordingly (McLeod, pp.169-171, Mackay, pp. 273-274).

Burns felt that Freemasonry was a cure for many of the social ills of the day. Marie Roberts, in "Burns and the Masonic Enlightenment" states that Freemasonry not only spoke out for the ideals of "liberty, fraternity, equality", but also was responsible for the creation of nationalistic feelings and fervour, as a number of Freemasons played prominent roles in the American and French revolutions.

Above all else, Freemasonry's spirit of Brotherhood had a special place in Burns's heart. Roberts states that "For Burns, Freemasonry was a compound of mysticism and conviviality" (p. 335). This attitude is found in one of his most famous works, "Auld Lang Syne", a song that millions of people around the world know and love. We hear it at New Years and our moved by its message of old friends reminiscing about days past. T.G. Paterson, in "Auld Lang Syne and Brother Robert Burns" says:
For [Burns], "Auld Lang Syne" is a concrete expression of his love of mankind and his ideal of international brotherhood.

Bro. Robert Burns passed to the Grand Lodge Above in 1796 at the age of 37 years.

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