By Tommy Rush
Tonight people from all over the world will participate in the New Year’s Eve tradition of counting down the seconds until the clock strikes midnight. Millions of people will celebrate the start of 2022 but my eyes will probably be closed by 9 p.m. It’s not that I’m not excited about the new year, I just have a hard time staying awake late at night. I shared that yesterday with a friend in the grocery store and he said, “I’m not a late night person either but I think I’ll stay up to midnight this year just to make sure 2021 is completely gone!”
2021 has been a difficult year for many. Actually the past two years have been a struggle. But even through the struggles, we have much to be grateful for. We encounter good and bad in every year and if we stop long enough to reflect, we’ll probably find a lot more good than bad. This reminds me of another New Year’s Eve tradition, the tradition of gathering with friends and singing, “Auld Lang Syne.” This song is often referred to as “the song nobody really knows or understands.”
Robert Burns, a Scottish poet published his version of the poem in 1788. He said that he wrote the words down on paper after conversing with an old man about days gone by. The title of the song, “Auld Lang Syne” is actually old Scottish and it means “days gone by” or “for old times sake.” The poem was given the tune in 1799 and it will be sung by people everywhere tonight at the stroke of midnight. If you hear me singing it, it will be because I’m singing in my sleep!
Even though most who attempt to sing the song tonight will not understand what they are singing, it does present a good challenge to us. The song begins with a rhetorical question, “Should old acquaintances be forgot and never brought to mind?” Of course not! Burns seems to be challenging us as we reflect on the days gone by. There are problems and pains that we should leave behind in the old year. No one needs to bring past failures and disappointments into a new year, but we should definitely bring the memories and blessings of old friendships with us into the new one.
I’ve never understood the song but I can definitely agree with the message. The Bible even has a lot to say about forgetting those things in our past that have kept us from being who God created us to be. We need to say goodbye to old habits and hurts that have caused deep wounds to our life. But we should never forget the people who have walked with us and encouraged us along the way.
So if you are singing the song tonight and you have no idea what you’re singing, just remember to give thanks for the people in your life who have been with you through the good and bad in the days gone by. It’s a great way to start the new year!