We often think of “Auld Lang Syne” as a song for New Year’s Eve. Traditionally sung at the stroke of midnight among cheers and clinking glasses, the song provides an opportunity to say goodbye to the old year with fondness.

This song may also feel strangely appropriate in March 2021, one year after the Covid-19 pandemic really began affecting us in the U. S. Midwest. Sometimes it seems that we haven’t quite finished 2020 yet, since we’re still in the midst of this slow-moving disaster.

Now that we are getting vaccinated in large numbers, we can see some hope for the month ahead and reflect on our relationships that may have changed in the last year.

Scottish Poet Robert Burns was the first to write this poem down on paper in 1788, but the words were not his own. He wrote the ballad after listening to an elder tell tales of his past travels. The phrase “Auld Lang Syne” can be found in other Scottish poems as early as 17th century. The music comes from a traditional Scottish tune that many were familiar with at the time the song was written.

So what does “Auld Lang Syne” mean anyway? Translated to, “Old long since” or “For the sake of old times,” the song invites the listener to reflect on their relationships past and present.

Listen and reflect

Listen to the English translation of this song in the video below. As you listen, reflect on the past year, friends and memories from long ago, and the new year filled with hope and opportunity.

Remember that this pandemic will not last forever, and we are in this together! If you or someone you know is experiencing stress from the pandemic, call or text the Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990. It’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for free, anonymous crisis counseling. We are here to listen.

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