21 August 2006

The Scottich tune 'Auld Lang Syne'

It eventually turned out to be a pleasant Sunday afternoon although the day started with a damp morning. After service at church and my weekly shopping at Tesco, it broke through.

Invited by a Taiwanese PhD student Rebecca and another visiting PhD student, Noemí from Spain, I went for a cup of coffee in the newly opened Caffé Nero in the town centre of Stirling in the afternoon. Most of the time I would take espresso con pana; however, as it's not on their menu, I had no choice but asked for a double espresso macchiato. It's nae bad at all, although it's obviously not topped with a large dollop of light, fluffy, shaving cream-style foam, but with some funny frothed milk you usually have at the top of cappuccino.

Anyway, on this occasion, it is good company, rather than a good cup of coffee, that matters, and above all, the height of this afternoon was not the two hours' chat at the coffee shop but a jolly good walk in the Kings Park.

It is a very popular and easy walk from the town centre and usually takes no more than one hour to finish the whole route starting from the golf club. Along the path we saw the castle and the marvellous skyline against the Ochil Hills, as well as the village of Cambusbarron and Gillies Hill. Of course we also spotted the spectacular golf course, but fortunately we were not knocked by any mishit golf balls.

As the two ladies have just visited the famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo, their heads were full of the tune of Scotland The Brave. They just whistled out of tune all the way through.

Suddenly, Rebecca proposed that since I am a member of the choir of the Church of the Holy Rude, I should sing a song for us. In order to accommodate these two ladies' wish, I had to choose a song and sang aloud for them. What should we have? I supposed that a Scottish tune would be great.

On Hogmanay, or simply at the end of any Scottish event, people usually sing the world famous Auld Lang Syne to conclude the whole thing, and most of the time foreigners can only hum the melody without properly articulating every single word of the lyrics, so I gathered it might be a good idea to belt out this song for them.

Then I demonstrated to them the first verse of Auld Lang Syne. As far as I know, although there are actually five verses in this song, most people, even the Scottish themselves, only remember the first verse, just as most British people only learn by heart and sing the first verse of their national anthem God Save The Queen even though there are actually three. So next time, wherever they go, whatever occasion they attend, when others only hum the tune, they will be able to proudly sing aloud at least the first verse.

This song is probably one of the best known songs in the English-speaking countries. The lyrics are written by the Scottish poet Robert Burns based on earlier Scots ballads. The title Auld Lang Syne is actaully in the Scots language, which can best be translated as 'old long ago' or 'times long past.'

To memorise the good memory of this special Sunday afternoon, on which three non-Scottish international student sang the famous Scottish song Auld Lang Syne on the footpath around Stirling's Kings Park, as well as to the good company of Rebecca and Noemí, I shall post my own interpretation of this world-known tune on my blog. Of course, only the first verse.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to min'
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o’ lang syne!
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne!

If you have listened to the sound clip till the very end, you must have noticed the twist in the last phrase. As I was born and brought up in Taiwan, I think it might be funny to give a Scottish tune a Chinese mark.

Kings Park

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