On December 31st of 2011, I was on a late flight down to Orange County from Seattle. The next morning, I would be getting up early the next day to lead worship at Mars Hill OC. Scrunched in my middle seat, I was bent over my computer with a grim determination, alternately pounding the keys and then holding the delete button for seconds at a time. I was trying to finish something I had been toying with and toiling over for a couple of years at that point—rewriting the lyrics to “Auld Lang Syne.”
No, that title is not my spellcheck freaking out. It’s actually the name of the song with arguably the most recognized melody on the planet. It’s the song most associated with ringing in the new year. The one they play when the ball drops in Times Square. The one sung at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life. The song that you and your friends don’t know the lyrics to and just mumble along feeling slightly embarrassed for not knowing. Yes, that song.
It’s not a big surprise that people don’t know the words since they are from an old Scots poem developed by Robert Burns and most of us don’t speak Scots. The title itself could be translated to mean “Long, Long Ago,” or “Times Long Past,” and the song is generally understood to be something of a reminder for us to foster old and dear friendships. While this is a noble thought, I always had the feeling that there was a possibly better use of the most popular melody in the world.
So last year at 30,000 feet, I finally finished the hymn and played it the next morning at church. It’s one of my favorite things that I have written. The idea is that—especially at the beginning of the new year—we would dedicate all our efforts to bringing glory to Jesus Christ, to acknowledge that anything else would be of no value, and to celebrate our redemption in him.
And now this year, my friend Chad and his band Kings Kaleidoscope recorded the song on their Christmas EP Joy Has Dawned, and filmed a very cool and slightly hilarious video for the song as well so be sure to check it out.
May all glory be to Christ.