MS: Fragment of 'Auld Lang Syne'

Robert Burns, Author 
Object Number:


This is a fragment of Auld lang syne dating from around 1793. Only six manuscript copies of this song are known to still exist.

Robert wrote the earliest version of this song in a letter addressed to his friend Mrs Dunlop in 1788. He reworked the melody and lyrics and eventually submitted it to James Johnson for inclusion in The Scots Musical Museum. In this publication, however, the lyrics were set to a totally different melody than the one used today.

Burns also submitted the song to George Thomson for inclusion in his musical anthologies. Robert claimed to have recorded the song from an old man he met during his travels but he disliked the melody used. Thomson eventually published Auld lang syne in Select Collection of Original Scotish Airs in 1799, setting the lyrics to the tune we use today.

The song is based on an older traditional song, perhaps dating as far back as the 1600s. Several older versions exist, including one published by the poet Allan Ramsay in the 1720s.

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