"Auld Lang Syne" was written by Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1788 and became the most-performed song in the world after "Happy Birthday." Some historians attribute its success to the popularity of Burns and his poetry in New York high society from the late 19th century through the Great Depression.Continue Reading
In his lifetime, Burns traveled the Scottish countryside collecting traditional songs and sometimes remaking them. Historians believe that "Auld Lang Syne" could have been derived from a variety of traditional source materials. The tune Burns originally set it to was different from the modern tune, which was suggested by his publisher, George Thomson. The title means "For Old Time's Sake."
American Industrialists, who admired Burns' self-made career, collected his manuscripts and fueled his popularity. "Auld Lang Syne" may have become popular at New Year's Eve parties in Times Square that were attended by Burns fans William Randolph Hearst and Henry Ford.
In 1929, Canadian bandleader Guy Lombardo began using "Auld Lang Syne" for his New Year's Eve radio and television broadcasts, officially associating the tune with that holiday. In 2015, there are over 32,000 versions of the song on YouTube. The song has been translated into more than 40 languages.Learn more about Art & Literature