“Auld Lang Syne” ~ “old long since”

Every third Thursday in December, Ivanhoe Lodge hosts its annual Installation and Investiture–a wonderful evening ceremony of pomp and circumstance, honours, and to have the brethren look forward to a new Masonic year in the lodge.  After the ceremony, the brethren gather in the lounge and then the banquet hall for a scrumptious Christmas-style dinner, give toasts to the new Worshipful Master, and lambash in merriment.

That said, before the brethren depart the banquet hall, we all gather around in a circle, cross and interlock hands in unity and sing that “song that everyone sings but yet nobody knows”–”Auld Lang Syne” from Bro. Robert Burns, who was poet laureate of Scottish Freemasons.  At the end of the song, we shake our hands

The following is an excerpt to help explain why the heck we sing what we’re not sure of… (source: http://historywire.ca/en/article/20522)

“Auld Lang Syne” has aptly been described as the song that nobody knows, although it is universally the song the English-speaking world uses to bid farewell to the old year and to hail the new.

The song nicely combines a note of conviviality with a poignant sense of loss, just the right mood for New Year’s Eve, when our minds hover between regret and anticipation.

The song we sing now is a version of an ancient song reworked by the 18th century Scottish bard Robbie Burns, a song he said “of olden times” which he took down from an old man’s singing and then improved with the words we (try to) sing today.

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot And never brought to mind?  Should auld acquaintance be forgot And auld lang syne?”

Or is that last line “And days o’ lang syne,” as Burns originally wrote it, or his earlier version “For auld lang syne”? And what does it mean? “Auld lang syne” translates literally as “old long since,” or to make more sense, “and days of long ago.”

So it appears that this tradition in our lodge (and many lodges for that matter) is to remember the days gone by, perhaps the last Masonic year, and to ring in the new, as the Winter Solstice, Christmas and New Year are near, which makes it very fitting and appropriate.