This ballad begins: 'Should Old Acquaintance be forgot, / and never thought upon, / The flames of Love extinguished, and fully past and gone.' The text preceding it reads: ' An excellent and proper New Ballad, Entituled, / OLD LONG SYNE / Newly corrected and amended, with a large and new / Edition of several excellent Love Lines. / To be sung with its own proper Musical Sweet Tune.'
There have been a variety of airs and lyrics published under the name 'Old Long Syne' or 'Auld Lang Syne'. Debate rages over whether the first tune originated in England, but no firm conclusions have been drawn. There are various versions of the words, the most famous being those composed by Allan Ramsay (1686-1757) and Robert Burns (1759-1796). These versions, however, are both different to this copy. These lyrics were copied across many broadsides and were eventually formally printed by James Watson in 1711.
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.
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