Mudcat Café message #152187 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #16346   Message #152187
Posted By: Murray on SS
20-Dec-99 - 08:57 PM
Thread Name: Auld Lang Syne
Subject: RE: Auld Lang Syne
There are several versions of this besides the famous one by Burns.
OLD LONG SYNE (1) (Should old acquaintance be forgot) Perhaps by Sir Robert Aytoun (1570-1638, buried in Westminster Abbey), of Kinaldie, Fife. He wrote several Latin poems which were much admired, and a few in English, though we can't be certain about this one, which is attributed to him in Watson Choice Collection III (1711; repr. 1869), 71. Robert Chambers finds it on 17th c. broadsides. In many anthologies (Chambers, Scottish Songs Prior to Burns p. 274, with the music), etc.; Ford Song Histories 1900), 4 (attr. to Francis Sempill of Beltrees, because of some MSS., not in FS's holograph). Attributed to Aytoun in the ed. of his Poems (Edin., 1844).
10x8 lines; 1-4: Should old acquaintance be forgot,/ And never thought upon,/ The flames of love extinguished,/ And freely past and gone? Watson prints 1-6, 7-10, as two parts [7.1 My Soul is ravish'd with Delight.]
Allan Ramsay a century later wrote his own verse:
OLD LONG SYNE (2) (Should auld acquaintance be forgot)
Alternative title"The Kind Reception".
In many collections, e.g. Ramsay, Scots Songs (1720); idem, Tea-Table Miscellany (1876 ed.), I.51 ("Auld Lang Syne"); idem, New Misc. of Scots Sangs (1727), 61; Orpheus Caledonius (1725; 1733), I.66 (+ m.); Herd (1776), I.177. ["Auld Lang Syne"]; Scots Musical Museum I (1787), 26 (#25) (+ m., key Ef, Common Time) [titled "Auld lang syne"], etc. etc. 5x8 lines. 1-4: "Should auld acquaintance be forgot,/ Though they return with scars?/ These are the noble hero's lot,/ Obtain'd in glorious wars."
These songs that predate Burns go to the old melody: in Mitchell Highland Fair (1731), 26 (# XV); earliest in print in Playford's Collection of Original Scotch Tunes (1700), p. 11 (misprinted as For old long Gine my Joe); also sans title in Mgt Sinkler's MS., 1710 (the versions differ). SMM version is from Neil Stewart's Scots Songs, 1772.
Among other songs to this old tune are "Should old gay mirth", "O Caledon!" (Lockhart), "When floury meadows".
Next, the famous words.
(Should auld acquaintance be forgot)
SMM V (1796), 426 (# 413) (+ m.), Dick Songs (1903), 233, and long note, 433 ff. G. F. Graham Wood's Songs of Scotland (1850), II.36 (+ m., I fee'd a lad at Michaelmas). Thomson's set: Scotish Airs (1799), 68; Select Melodies (1822), II.19; Dick Songs, 209, + note, 438 ff. Ford SH (1900), 9; SSCA (1870), 240 (with "days of auld" in line 4); Chambers SSPB 278 (+ music, called I fee'd a lass at Martinmas); and many others. Texts differ slightly. Jack Lyric Gems II (1858), 6 (+ m., I fee'd a lad at Michaelmas), title "Auld Langsyne".
Two rewrites by Lady Nairne are "What gude the present day can gi'e" and "The days were bright, the nights were sweet"; and there's an anonymous one in Greig, Folk-Song of the North-East article lxxii, 1.(No more, sweet youth, with you I'll walk), with chorus "For auld lang syne, my dear" etc.
The modern tune, used ever since Thompson's edition, is I fee'd a man at Martinmas. This gets the name from an old bawdy song preserved in the notorious Merry Muses of Caledonia (1799), called "O can ye labour lee, young man?", from the chorus. The tune specified is Sir Arch. Grant's Strathspey, = the well-known Monymusk; however, the tune of our title is actually the same as The Miller's Wedding, the modern "Auld Lang Syne" tune; it is found also as Sir Alex. Don in Gow's Strathspey Reels, 1784. Has there been an editorial error here? On the other hand, Sir Archibald Grant was a member of the Crochallan Fencibles, for whom MMC was compiled; so there may be a misdirectional in-joke here. N.B.: Chambers (SSPB, 278), incorrectly refers to "I fee'd a lass at Martinmas"; note that "man" is sometimes "lad".
A slightly different version [not so bawdy] is in SMM IV (1792), 407 (# 394) (+ m.) 3x4 lines + cho. (Titled from cho.)