When Robbie Burns wrote down the lyrics to “Auld Lang Syne” in 1788, he captured one of Scotland’s national treasures.
Scots had been singing versions of the song for two hundred years, but once it was written down, they could carry it with them anywhere. And they did.
They immigrated in large numbers to North America, and they sang the iconic song because there’s just something about remembering who you are and where you’re from.
During the Civil War, the Union military leaders banned “Auld Lang Syne” because it fostered homesickness in the hearts of the soldiers and promoted themes of reconciliation. When Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, General Grant ordered the band to play the song. Now was the time for healing and remembering.
As the lyrics go, “Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot and days of auld lang syne?”
Burns’ anthem is familiar around the world now as it is sung every New Year’s Eve in places as far away as China and New Zealand. Gerard Carruthers, the co-director of Robert Burns Studies at Glasgow University, points out that it is even played at closing time in some department stores in Japan during the holidays.
The nostalgic, haunting melody brings to mind friends and family who have passed away and times that cannot be reclaimed. It’s a homesickness that can’t go home, a return to the past that remains just out of our grasp.
When Jesus came as the Child in the manger, the Incarnate Son of God, He turned all things on their heads. The old became new. The weak became strong. The dark became light. The dead became alive.
What if we applied Jesus to homesickness? Instead of being homesick for the past, longing hopelessly after our departed loved ones, what if we trusted Jesus to make us homesick for the future? What if our great longing was for what is to come instead of what lies behind us?
C.S. Lewis famously wrote, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
The Apostle Paul said, “One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
As you look back on 2021, you may see upheaval, loss, struggle, or sickness. You may remember New Years past that have come and gone, holding so much promise and joy, but now they too have been laid to rest. Let 2022 be the year you let Jesus transform your homesickness. Ask Him to create in you the longing for Him and for all He has prepared for you.
Jesus told His disciples, “If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.”
Happy New Year! Lift up your heads. He is coming soon.