In 1788 or so, the Scottish poet Robert Burns transcribed a remnant of a traditional folksong, added to it, and published it as "Auld Lang Syne." The song became a traditional greeting to the New Year in the twentieth century, soon becoming popular in many English and non-English speaking countries. In essence, it has become a transitional anthem, taking us from the year that was to the year that will be.
"Auld Lang Syne" asks whether we should forget the past, those whom we knew and loved, those with whom we shared parts of our lives. Its answer encourages us not to forget but instead to embrace the past, its people and our memories, as we move forward into a new time holding new promise. The poem ends on an upbeat and positive note, a note not of endings, but of beginnings born of respect for the past.
While times have been difficult in the past few years for so many, there are strong reasons to hope, strong signs that we are moving forward. As many economists and analysts have pointed out, we've been in circumstances like these before, many times over many years, and they always give way to something better.
So as a New Year approaches, we offer "Auld Lang Syne" with its spirit of hope, a hope anchored in memories and looking toward a future made better because of them.