Saturday, January 18, 2020

Confession and forgiveness

Continuing to read Scruton:
...[I]t is by seeing our world in Christian terms that I have been able to accept the vast changes that have shaken it. Acceptance comes from sacrifice: that is the message conveyed by so many of the memorable works of our culture. And in the Christian tradition the primary acts of sacrifice are confession and forgiveness. Those who confess, sacrifice their pride, while those who forgive, sacrifice their resentment, renouncing thereby something that had been dear to their hearts. Confession and forgiveness are the habits that made our civilization possible.

Forgiveness can be offered only on certain conditions, and a culture of forgiveness is one that implants those conditions in the individual soul. You can forgive those who have injured you only if they acknowledge their fault. This acknowledgement is not achieved by saying 'yes, that's true, that's what I did' It requires penitence and atonement. Through these self-abasing acts, the wrongdoer goes out to his victim and re-establishes the moral equality that makes forgiveness possible. In the Judaeo-Christian tradition all this is well known, and incorporated into the sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church as well as the rituals and liturgy of Yom Kippur. We have inherited from those religious sources the culture that enables us to confess to our faults, to make recompense to our victims, and to hold each other to account in all matters where our free conduct can harm those who have cause to rely on us. ....
Roger Scruton, How to be a Conservative, Bloomsbury Continuum, 2019.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Redeem the time

Samuel Johnson:
O LORD, who wouldst that all men should be saved, and who knowest that without Thy grace we can do nothing acceptable to Thee, have mercy upon me. Enable me to break the chain of my sins, to reject sensuality in thought, and to overcome and suppress vain scruples; and to use such diligence in lawful employment as may enable me to support myself and do good to others. O Lord, forgive me the time lost in idleness; pardon the sins which I have committed, and grant that I may redeem the time misspent, and be reconciled to Thee by true repentance, that I may live and die in peace, and be received to everlasting happiness. Take not from me, O Lord, Thy Holy Spirit, but let me have support and comfort for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

"True but boring, ...exciting but false"

Roger Scruton authored some fifty books. I've read only a few. One that I haven't has been among those often recommended in the days since his death. How to be a Conservative (2014) just arrived in the post. From his Preface in the "New Edition":
The conservatism I shall be defending tells us that we have collectively inherited good things that we must strive to keep. In the situation in which we, the inheritors both of Western civilization and of the English-speaking part of it, find ourselves, we are well aware of what those good things are. The opportunity to live our lives as we will; the security of impartial law, through which our grievances are answered and our hurts restored; the protection of our environment as a shared asset, which cannot be seized or destroyed at the whim of powerful interests; the open and enquiring culture that has shaped our schools and universities; the democratic procedures that enable us to elect our representatives and to pass our own laws — these and many other things are familiar to us and taken for granted. All are under threat. And conservatism is the rational response to that threat. Maybe it is a response that requires more understanding than the ordinary person is prepared to devote to it. But conservatism is the only response that answers to the emerging realities, and in this book I try to say, as succinctly as I can, why it would be irrational to adopt any other.

Conservatism starts from a sentiment that all mature people can readily share: the sentiment that good things are easily destroyed, but not easily created. This is especially true of the good things that come to us as collective assets: peace, freedom, law, civility, public spirit, the security of property and family life, in all of which we depend on the cooperation of others while having no means singlehandedly to obtain it. In respect of such things, the work of destruction is quick, easy and exhilarating; the work of creation slow, laborious and dull. That is one of the lessons of the twentieth century. It is also one reason why conservatives suffer such a disadvantage when it comes to public opinion. Their position is true but boring, that of their opponents exciting but false.

Because of this rhetorical disadvantage, conservatives often present their case in the language of mourning. Lamentations can sweep everything before them, like the Lamentations of Jeremiah, in just the way that the literature of revolution sweeps away the world of our frail achievements. And mourning is sometimes necessary; without 'the work of mourning' as Freud described it, the heart cannot move on from the thing that is lost to the thing that will replace it. Nevertheless, the case for conservatism does not have to be presented in elegiac accents. It is not about what we have lost, but about what we have retained, and how to hold on to it. Such is the case that I present in this book. ....
Roger Scruton, How to be a Conservative, Bloomsbury Continuum, 2019.

Modern times

In his Conservatism (2017) Roger Scruton contrasts the experience of an American conservative with one in Britain by observing that an American "can confess to being a conservative without being socially ostracised." Maybe, but it probably depends on where the American lives or works. Scruton:
...Orwell's political fables contain an accurate and penetrating prophecy of the political correctness that has since invaded intellectual life in both Britain and America. The humourless and relentless policing of language, so as to prevent heretical thoughts from arising, the violence done to traditional categories and natural ways of describing things, the obliteration of memory and assiduous policing of the past — all these things, so disturbingly described in Nineteen Eighty-Four, are now routinely to be observed on university campuses on both sides of the Atlantic, and those conservatives who draw attention to the phenomenon, as Allan Bloom did in his influential book The Closing of the American Mind (1987), are frequently marginalised or even demonised as representatives of one of the forbidden 'isms' or 'phobias' of the day — racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, etc. In a society devoted to 'inclusion' the only 'phobia' permitted is that of which conservatives are the target.

This situation, which puts conservatives at an enormous disadvantage in the intellectual world, has inevitably changed their way of defining themselves, and made the 'culture wars' central to their sense of what they are fighting for and why. Understanding political correctness and finding the ways to combat it have therefore become prominent among conservative causes. Is political correctness simply the final stage of liberal individualism — the stage at which all barriers to a self-chosen identity are to be removed? If so, which of those barriers can conservatives still defend against the onslaught, and how can they justify the attempt? Or is it rather a derogation from the great liberal tradition, a way in which equality has become so urgent and dominating a cause that nothing of liberty remains, and all social life is absorbed into a relentless witch-hunt against the defenders of social distinctions? ....
Roger Scruton, Conservatism, Chapter 6, "Conservatism Now," Profile Books, 2017.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The suicide of the Humanities

Ross Douthat on "a package of essays from The Chronicle of Higher Education on the academic world that helped educate me — the humanities and especially the study of literature....":
The package’s title is a single word, “Endgame,” and its opening text reads like the crawl for a disaster movie. “The academic study of literature is no longer on the verge of field collapse. It’s in the midst of it.” Jobs are disappearing, subfields are evaporating, enrollment has tanked, and amid the wreckage the custodians of humanism are “befuddled and without purpose.”

The Chronicle essays cover administrative and political battles, the transformed hiring process, the rebellions of graduate students, and the golfing-under-a-volcano aspects of the Modern Language Association conference. But the central essays are the ones that deal with the existential questions, the ways that humanism tries — and lately fails — to justify itself. ....

A thousand different forces are killing student interest in the humanities and cultural interest in high culture, and both preservation and recovery depend on more than just a belief in truth and beauty, a belief that “the best that has been thought and said” is not an empty phrase. But they depend at least on that belief, at least on the ideas that certain books and arts and forms are superior, transcendent, at least on the belief that students should learn to value these texts and forms before attempting their critical dissection. ....

...[W]hen I was an undergraduate...our so-called “core” curriculum promised to teach us “approaches to knowledge” rather than the thing itself. It was, and remains, an insane view for humanists to take, a unilateral disarmament in the contest for student hearts and minds; no other discipline promises to teach only a style of thinking and not some essential substance. ....

.... This should, by rights, be a moment of exciting curricular debates, over which global and rediscovered and post-colonial works belong on the syllabus with Shakespeare, over whether it’s possible to teach an American canon and a global canon all at once. Instead, humanists have often trapped themselves in a false choice between “dead white males” and “we don’t transmit value.” ....

Monday, January 13, 2020

"A sanctified somewhere"

From an appreciation of Roger Scruton:
.... From him most of all I took my own idea of what conservatism is, the attempt to preserve or recover a home in this world — a place of consolation, a sanctified somewhere that connects us to the dead, the unborn, and our neighbors through love, memory, and sacrifice. A place that belongs to us and implants in us a longing for the true home that can never be destroyed by storms, war, neglect, or the encroachment of speculative exurban developers who want to replace our homes with parking lots and Panera Bread. We put in our labors to preserve freedom, decency, and culture, so that our children receive this somewhere as a place prepared for me by my father. ....

Sunday, January 12, 2020

"Be ye sure..."

Sir Roger Scruton died today (1944-2020). I have referred to him and/or quoted him many times on this site. For instance this, from Gentle Regrets: Thoughts from a Life (2006):
Perhaps there is no more direct challenge to secular ways of thinking than the famous Hundredth Psalm, the Jubilate Deo, as translated in the Book of Common Prayer. .... The psalmist enjoins us to be joyful in the Lord, to serve the Lord with gladness and to come before his presence with a song. ....

Once we came before God’s presence with a song; now we come before his absence with a sigh. The triumphs of science and technology, the vanquishing of disease and the mastery over nature—these things coincide with a general moroseness, the origin of which, I believe, is religious. Someone who turns his back on God cannot receive his gifts with gratitude, but only with a grudging resentment at their insufficiency. No scientific advance will bestow eternal youth, eternal happiness, eternal love or loveliness. Hence no scientific advance can answer to our underlying religious need. Having put our trust in science we can expect only disappointment. And seeing, in the mirror raised by science, our own aggrieved and sullen faces, we are turned to disaffection with our kind. That is why the singing stops.

The psalmist goes on to remind us of the remedy: ‘Be ye sure that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves.’ This sentence contains all of theology. .... (more)

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Tradition and authority

This is from an essay by Russell Kirk included in What is Conservatism? (1964):
...[I]f people really desire genuine freedom, they need to know genuine authority. "Authority" is not the policeman's baton. "Conscience is an authority," Newman writes in his essay on John Keble; "the Bible is an authority; such is the Church; such is Antiquity; such are the words of the wise; such are historical memories, such are legal saws and state maxims; such are proverbs; such are sentiments, presages, and prepossessions." Authority, in fine, is the ground upon which prudent action must be performed. If a man acknowledges no authority, he sets himself up as Cain, and before long he is struck down by nemesis, which follows upon hubris.

Political authority, the claims and powers of a legitimate state, though an important part of this complex of authority which rules our lives, is no more than a part. Sometimes authorities conflict; indeed, most of the great disputes of history have been, in essence, controversies over the higher source of authority. And such debates never are wholly and finally resolved. ....

Human nature being irremediably flawed, so that all of us in some degree rebel against the people and the institutions to which we owe most, there is in every man a certain impulse to make himself God: that is, to cast off all authority but his own lust and whim. From this vice comes the corrupting influence of total power upon even the best of natures. The rebellion of Lucifer is the symbol of this ancient anarchic impulse—the passion for overthrowing the just authority of God, that upon the vacant throne of authority the rebel may make himself absolute. Yet the doom of such risings is as sure as Lucifer's. For a grown man to rebel against all authority is as ludicrous as for a three-year-old child to defy his parents: whether they are good parents or bad, he can live scarcely a day without them. ....

Fulbert of Chartres and Gerbert of Rheims, those two grand Schoolmen, said that we moderns are dwarfs standing upon the shoulders of giants. We see so far only because we are elevated upon the accomplishment of our ancestors; and if we break with ancestral wisdom, we at once are plunged into the ditch of ignorance. All that we have and know is founded upon the experience of the race. As Burke put it, "The individual is foolish, but the species is wise." Men have no right, Burke said, to risk the very existence of their nation and their civilization upon experiments in morals and politics; for each man's private capital of intelligence is petty; it is only when a man draws upon the bank and capital of the ages, the wisdom of our ancestors, that he can act wisely. Without resort to tradition and prescription, we are left with merely our vanity and the brief and partial experience of our evanescent lives. "What shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue!"

G.K. Chesterton expressed much the same truth when he wrote of "the democracy of the dead." When we decide great questions in our time, he held, we ought to count not merely the votes of our contemporaries, but the opinions of many generations of men—and particularly the convictions of the wise men who have preceded us in time. By trial and error, by revelation, by the insights of men of genius, mankind has acquired, slowly and painfully, over thousands of years, a knowledge of human nature and of the civil social order which no one individual possibly can supplant by private rationality.

This is true especially in matters of morals, politics, and taste....
The book is available from Amazon in a new edition.

Russell Kirk, "Prescription, Authority, and Ordered Freedom," in What is Conservatism, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964, pp. 23-40.

Thursday, January 9, 2020


Commenting on the royal soap-opera this morning, Rod Dreher quoted from an earlier essay of his. I'm already tired of Harry and Meghan, but liked this:
.... Scruton’s observation highlights a fault line bisecting latter-day Anglo-American conservatism: the philosophical split between traditionalists and libertarians. ...[T]o paraphrase the historian George H. Nash, is [conservatism] essentially about the rights of individuals to be what they want to be or the duties of individuals to be what they ought to be[?]

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

"The stuff that dreams are made of"

Sitting atop one of my bookcases is my replica of the Maltese Falcon (which badly needs to be dusted). Mom and Dad gave it to me one Christmas (I had asked for it). It came, just as it appears in the film, wrapped in several layers of newspaper. Last night I happened upon a TCM documentary about Mary Astor who plays Brigid O'Shaughnessy in the movie. Humphry Bogart is Sam Spade and the rest of the perfect cast includes Sidney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Elisha Cook, Jr., and Ward Bond. It was directed by John Huston (his first, I think, in 1941). The book, The Maltese Falcon, was one of several "hard-boiled" mysteries by Dashiell Hammett. I hadn't watched the movie for several years but I watched it again last night into today's early morning hours. Superb! I need to read the book again.

Monday, January 6, 2020

"You take the high road..."

From Alan Jacobs' newsletter this morning:
Does anyone arrange music for voices more beautifully than Ralph Vaughan Williams? If you doubt his mastery, take 90 seconds — 90 seconds, that’s all it takes — and listen to “O Taste and See,” the glorious motet RVW wrote to be sung at Holy Communion during the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey, 2 June 1953. Just that minute-and-a-half is a complete education in vocal arrangement.

RVW has an amazing knack for balancing three musical forces: the lead voice alone; the lead voice supported by a choir; the full power of the choir. Notice how beautifully he weaves together those forces in his utterly simple but also utterly perfect arrangement of “Loch Lomond.” It’s just a faux folk song, but one of the loveliest melodies in the world, and RVW knows better than to over-elaborate his arrangement. I especially admire the way he changes the pattern in the third verse: the first two had been solo-and-then-choir, the third is choir-and-then-solo. The lead tenor at the end does so much to emphasize the grief and longing of the song.

Is it a piece of Victorian sentimentality? Maybe. But Victorian sentimentality doesn’t always go astray. ....

Opinionlessness • Buttondown

Sunday, January 5, 2020

T.S. Eliot

I came across this BBC series about T.S. Eliot this afternoon. It is a time commitment, about an hour and a half, but very well done, and if you are interested in the subject, well worth your time.

Friday, January 3, 2020

"The Word became flesh..."

From Ben Dueholm's sermon preview for this coming Sunday:
This Sunday, after a few weeks of angels and shepherds and even wise men, we'll finally hear the vast and yet simple opening to the Gospel according to John. You can read the whole passage here, but for now I'll just take a look at this bit:
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
This is a key verse for understanding pretty much the entirety of Christian belief and practice. ....

That was the big claim that made the philosophers hesitate when it came to this new religion. A divine Word carrying out the creative work of God is one thing; that Word becoming flesh, becoming human and living—and being crucified!—among us is another matter. It seemed impossible, not to mention absurd, that the creative power of God should be humbled to earthly existence like that. And yet without that claim, I don't know what Christianity would have become—maybe nothing more than a disappointed Messianic cult that died out as its hopes of vindication within history gradually failed.

Through centuries, and still today, we have to continually hold to this claim against all kinds of skepticism. There were arguments about how exactly the Word and human flesh were connected: was Jesus just an appearance of humanity, or was the Word inside his body, like an astronaut in a space suit? Does it mean that he became the Son of God at some point in his life, such as at his baptism? Or is it really just a way of saying Jesus was especially enlightened and knowledgeable about the Word of God?

The church answered those questions over the years: no, Jesus was not merely apparently human but was really fully human; no, the divine Word wasn't inside him like a parasite in a host, but was truly one with his human flesh; no, Jesus didn't suddenly turn into the Son of God and he wasn't just an especially enlightened or knowing individual. We come back over and over again to the insistence that the eternal, perfect, immortal Word of God was made human flesh and connected God and humanity forever. This insistence changes everything. We aren't just spirits trapped in human bodies. We aren't supposed to be indifferent to our own bodies or the bodies of others. Our frail, mortal, temporary human flesh became the dwelling of God the Word—the Greek word we hear as "lived among us" could be more literally translated as "pitched his tent among us"—and so even our weakness and our suffering and our hindrances are taken up into the absolute holiness of God. ....

Wednesday, January 1, 2020


A New Year's prayer

Samuel Johnson, New Year's Day, 1772:
ALMIGHTY GOD, who hast permitted me to see the beginning of another year, enable me so to receive Thy mercy, as that it may raise in me stronger desires of pleasing Thee by purity of mind and holiness of Life. Strengthen me, O Lord, in good purposes, and reasonable meditations. Look with pity upon all my disorders of mind, and infirmities of body. Grant that the residue of my life may enjoy such degrees of health as may permit me to be useful, and that I may live to Thy Glory; and O merciful Lord when it shall please Thee to call me from the present state, enable me to die in confidence of Thy mercy, and receive me to everlasting happiness, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The sin of all sins

.... What Leon Kass calls the “higher cynicism” has left many adrift, without recourse to the traditions of wisdom that might provide direction and guidance for life. ....

Despair is the unforgivable sin, for the despairing conclude that God will not or cannot act, that the universe is fundamentally unfriendly and inhospitable to the true, good, and beautiful, and that humanity has lost the imago Dei. To judge in this way is to deny the goodness of the world and its Creator and sustainer, and that is the sin of all sins. ....

...[T]he most indispensable virtue is hope, which is not optimism or a vague sentiment, but a disposition that all will turn out well in the end. ...I would add that this disposition is convinced that God does not fail to keep his promises. Kass insists, wisely, that hope is not hope for change, but rather an affirmation of permanence, of the permanent possibility of a meaningful life in a hospitable and meaningful universe. ....

My resolution for 2020 is to learn a quiet hope. It would do me well. ....

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

"The paradox of liberalism"

Gertrude Himmelfarb died yesterday, Dec. 30, 2019. A few paragraphs from Yuval Levin's much longer appreciation at National Review:
.... She was among the most important American historians of the last century. Her path-breaking work illuminating the intellectual life of 19th-century Britain not only helped transform our understanding of what the Victorians were up to but also provided a rich vocabulary for describing the place of the moral in the social and political lives of liberal societies. And in the process, she helped several generations of politically minded intellectuals in her own day understand themselves, their roles, and their goals more profoundly.

Himmelfarb’s approach to the contemporary relevance of historical inquiry was more or less a mirror image of the attitude that came increasingly to prevail in her profession over her decades of scholarship. As she put it in the introduction to the final collection of her essays, in 2017, many academic historians now fall into “interpreting the past in terms of the present, imposing the values of an enlightened progressive present upon a benighted, retrograde past.” Her own temptation, she wrote, was almost the opposite: to learn from the past what the present has forgotten. ....

She found the Victorians particularly instructive regarding two sets of questions she thought were essential to her own time and place. The first was what she would later (in a biography of John Stuart Mill) call “the paradox of liberalism” — namely that in prioritizing individual liberty above all other political goods, modern liberalism threatened to undermine the moral foundations of individual liberty, and therefore of its own strength. The second involved the significance of intellectuals in the public lives of free societies. ....

Acton offered her much fodder on both fronts. .... Himmelfarb characterized his view concisely:
The only liberty recognized by the Protestants was the liberty of the individual; the only authority the authority of the state. Thus the individual acquired the right to worship in whatever religion he wished, but his church was deprived of the right to administer its own laws. By this means, the emancipation of the individual became a refined technique for ensuring his utter subjection and the limited power previously exercised by the church was replaced by the absolute power of the state.
The elimination of mediating, moderating layers of both authority and liberty endangered them both. This would become a defining insight of a certain kind of communitarian critique of liberalism over time. But Himmelfarb, drawing on Acton, saw it early and clearly.

Acton’s answer to this problem was not to abandon liberalism, but to insist that it be tethered to traditional religion. The attachment would serve both partners, though it was destined always to be rocky and perturbed. “The liberals wanted political freedom at the expense of the church,” Himmelfarb wrote, “and the traditional Catholics wanted the church at the expense of political freedom. Acton knew that in a non-Catholic state the church’s freedom could only be guaranteed by a free society so that people who wanted religious freedom needed to be friends of genuine liberal freedom.” But he also knew that they needed to insist that religious freedom was a communal, not just an individual freedom, and that the moralism that grew out of serious religious conviction needed to have a place in the public life of a liberal society.

The relevance of this insight for our own time hardly needs to be stressed. ....

And from the 1950s through the 1970s, Himmelfarb devoted herself to exploring and articulating the lessons of that [Victorian] era, and to illuminating its most appealing and instructive figures.

Much of this work took the form of essays written over two decades and collected in Victorian Minds: A Study of Intellectuals in Crisis and Ideologies in Transition, published in 1968 and selected as a finalist for a National Book Award. In these essays, Himmelfarb proved to be a masterful observer of the sociology of intellectual transformation — how ideas percolate, rise, are debated and considered, accepted or rejected.

This is, as she described it, an elite process of opinion formation, but it happens at the core of elite intellectual life, not at its highest reaches. “The philosopher need address himself only to the best minds of an age—perhaps only to the best minds of all time,” she wrote in the introduction to Victorian Minds. But “the historian of ideas must also consider the representative minds of an age, which may well be the ‘second best’ minds.” She quickly added, however, that “for Victorian England, fortunately, this is no great affliction, the second-best then being better than the best of many other times and places.” ....

...[T]wo essays on Edmund Burke (whom she dubs a “proto-Victorian”) offer the extraordinary spectacle of a historian changing her mind: The first is a highly critical overview of Burke’s political project and the second, written more than a decade later, is essentially a scathing review of the first, in which Himmelfarb openly critiques what she had come to consider her own narrow-mindedness and offers a very different reading of Burke. She notes in the introduction that she could have just hidden the first away, but wanted the reader to see her rethinking in public and judge if she was right to do so. ....

From the Contents of Victorian Minds
.... “Liberals have learned, at fearful cost, the lesson that absolute power corrupts absolutely,” she wrote. “They have yet to learn that absolute liberty may also corrupt absolutely.”

This led Himmelfarb to the most powerful formulation of the worry that hangs like an ominous shadow over her seven decades of scholarship:
Having made an absolute of liberty and having established the individual as sovereign, the liberal has no integrated view of the individual in society which can moderate either his passion for liberty or his desire for regulation and control. When liberty proves inadequate, government rushes in. And since the only function assigned to government by the principle of liberty is the negative one of protection against injury, when government is obliged to assume a positive role, neither its proper powers nor its proper limits have been defined. The paradox is inevitable: government tends to become unlimited when liberty itself is thought to be unlimited. The paradox brings others in its wake. While contemporary liberalism has enormously enhanced the roles of society, government, and the state, it has provided them with no principles of legitimacy.
The result is a recipe for social breakdown and political disillusionment — for what she termed “de-moralization.” It is a recipe that Himmelfarb worried our society had set out to follow. .... (much more)

For old friends

I've posted this several times on New Year's Eve:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and days of auld lang syne?

Peggy Noonan, in 2011, on the song:
"Auld Lang Syne"—the phrase can be translated as "long, long ago," or "old long since," but I like "old times past"—is a song that asks a question, a tender little question that has to do with the nature of being alive, of being a person on a journey in the world. It not only asks, it gives an answer.

It was written, or written down, by Robert Burns, lyric poet and Bard of Scotland. In 1788 he sent a copy of the poem to the Scots Musical Museum, with the words: "The following song, an old song, of the olden times, has never been in print." Burns was interested in the culture of Scotland, and collected old folk tales and poems. He said he got this one "from an old man"—no one knows who—and wrote it down. Being a writer, Burns revised and compressed. He found the phrase auld lang syne "exceedingly expressive" and thought whoever first wrote the poem "heaven inspired." The song spread throughout Scotland, where it was sung to mark the end of the old year, and soon to the English-speaking world, where it's sung to mark the new.

The question it asks is clear: Should those we knew and loved be forgotten and never thought of? Should old times past be forgotten? No, says the song, they shouldn't be. We'll remember those times and those people, we'll toast them now and always, we'll keep them close. "We'll take a cup of kindness yet." .... [more]
SHOULD auld acquaintance be forgot,    
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days of auld lang syne

And here 's a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie's a hand o' thine;
And we'll tak a right guid-willie waught
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae rin about the braes,
And pu'd the gowans fine;
But we've wander'd monie a weary fit
Sin' auld lang syne.
And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I'll be mine;
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne!
We twa hae paidl't i' the burn,
Frae mornin' sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd      
Sin' auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

Days of Auld Lang What?

On the 31st of December

Hasten, O Father, the coming of your kingdom and grant that we your servants, who now live by faith, may with joy behold your Son at his coming in glorious majesty, even Jesus Christ, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen. (BCP)