For the Sake of Old Times


Do you remember the scene at the end of When Harry Met Sally where Harry admits he has no idea what the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne mean?

Harry shouldn’t feel alone. Millions of people around the world will be singing the song at midnight tonight without having a clue as to what they are saying.

As an end of the year public service from Deadwrite’s Dailies, here’s a brief explanation of the song, which was based on a poem by Scotsman Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song.

The opening line rhetorically asks whether it’s permissible to forget old acquaintances.

The phrase auld lang syne can be loosely translated as “for the sake of old times.” And the “take a cup of kindness” bit means to raise a glass to the memory of those old times.

If you substitute these meanings in the chorus, it becomes more understandable to modern-day ears:

“For the sake of old times, my dear, for the sake of old times. We’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for the sake of old times.”

For extra points, you may want to sing the fifth verse of the song at midnight (assuming of course that you haven’t had too much bubbly):

“And there’s a hand, my trusty friend, and give us a hand o’ thine. And we’ll take a right good draught, for the sake of old times.”

So, raise your glasses high! And for the sake of old times, take a right good draught, my trusty friends.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

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About deadwrite

Freelance writer, film historian, taphophile View all posts by deadwrite

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