Songs of Christmas…Auld Lang Syne

This is part 31 of an Advent/Christmas series titled “Songs of Christmas.” For other parts of the series see the index. The index also contains the introduction for the series.

Well, today we bring the year 2016 to a close. We also bring this series, “Songs of Christmas” to an end. And, we are closing out “Songs of Christmas” with a song that isn’t a Christmas song at all. But, it is a song of the season. We opened this series with an Advent song, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and we are closing it with a New Year’s Eve song, “Auld Lang Syne.”

Many people get confused about the song. Perhaps that is because our traditions that encircle the song are confusing. Because we sing this song after “the ball drops” and we begin a new year, that it is a song ushering out the old and welcoming in the new. Well, that is half right. It is a song where we are saying goodbye to the old. Truthfully, I am not even sure why we sing the song. It tends to make, at least some of us cry even though we don’t know what it means and if you are anything like me, you don’t know all the words either. Just so you know, the title roughly translates as, “for old time’s sake.” It also doesn’t help the confusion when the words of the song have evolved some over time.

In 1788, the Scottish poet Robert Burns sent the Scots Musical Museum “Auld Lang Syne” in the form of a poem. He claimed it was an ancient folk song but that he was the first one to commit it to paper. He claimed that the song had passed from generation to generation, from parent to child for many, many years.

Burns’ claim of an ancient folk song was true but it was not true that he was the first to write the song down. The first known writing of the song was by James Watson in 1711.

There is also a belief that the tune we sing the song to today, “Roud 1694,” is not the song originally used with “Auld Lang Syne.” That tune, at least for now, is lost to history.

So, how did a song that has a murky history and nothing at all to do with New Year’s Eve become the song of New Year’s Eve? Well it probably has something to do with Guy Lombardo. In 1929 Lombardo and his band played “Auld Lang Syne” as transitional music while performing at New York City’s Roosevelt Hotel during a New Year’s Eve broadcast. It was played just after midnight, and heard over radio and television airwaves, inadvertently spawning a global tradition.   Today, “Auld Lang Syne” is one of the most recognizable songs around the world.

There us one way I believe we can put “Auld Lang Syne” to good use as a New Year’s song. Perhaps it could be our first New Year’s resolution (a series we will start tomorrow), to reunite with those friends, family and acquaintances before they are forgotten. We just might find true blessing from God in the words and in the re-acquaintance.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved



Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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