The Word on the Week

Auld Lang Syne

This New Year’s Eve, at a family gathering, I was asked to quote the words of the above Scottish song. Traditionally it is always sung at the start of a New Year, usually by people gathered in an out of door setting who mangle the words! I, coming from Scotland, was asked to supply the words and only just managed to remember the first verse and chorus! We did make some attempt at the last verse which involves the crossing over of hands, grasping the hands of your neighbours on either side and shaking them in time with the music. The handshake, of course, is symbolic of friendship and the whole poem reminisces over the old times when the singers were growing up together. An interesting change took place in the chorus from when it was first penned in 1788. Then the toast was to “Jo”. The Bard’s waywardness with the ladies caused him to substitute the anonymous “dear” five years later and it is this inclusive version which we now sing! For auld lang syne, my dear,

For auld lang syne,

We’ll tak a cup of kindness yet,

For auld lang syne! A loose translation would be “For old times, my dear, For old times, We’ll drink together in fellowship, Remembering the old times”. The Bible has always been big into relationships. Perhaps the most inclusive of these was the bond between Jesus and his disciples. St John, who was there in the upper room at the end of the earthly ministry of Jesus makes this comment; “when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them to the end”. This was not the eros love of the poet but the agape love of the Saviour which is unshakeable. It is best seen at the cross when Jesus died for those who were actively seeking to destroy him. It is the unquenchable love of God for his own rebellious people. Did it include the poet Robert Burns? That is something which is in God’s province. Will it include you? That requires you to turn your life over to Jesus who said, “All that the Father gives me will come to me; and whosoever comes to me I will in never cast out”