Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, on their New Year’s Eve radio broadcast in 1929, played the traditional Scottish song, “Auld Lang Syne.”
The words were adapted in the late 18th century by the celebrated Scottish poet Robert Burns. The composer of the melody is unknown.
The 1981 Reader’s Digest “Merry Christmas Songbook” states: “For decades, people have agreed that it makes a bonny way to close the ‘old long ago’ of Christmastime and usher in the hopes and resolutions of a brand-new year.”
Many of us cannot remember a New Year’s Eve when we did not hear it or join in singing, “Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and days of Auld Lang Syne?” The title is often translated as “old long ago.”
What happened in the last 12 months is not that long ago. However, the origin of prominent stories dates back many years. TIME, Newsweek, Christianity Today, The Associated Press and other publications at the close of each year remind us of significant events and the deaths of well-known persons.
There are people we read and hear about regularly. They might live just down the street or road from us, but we have never formally met them. It could be a politician for whom we voted, the president of the bank that holds our mortgage, a state or national leader of our church, the manager of the factory where we work or the leaders of our community or county. All were important people. What they did influenced our lives. But we were never formally introduced to them.
As I look over the lists compiled for 2007, there are several who were special to me.
Among those I met were Teddy Kollek, the six-term mayor of Jerusalem, and Bowie Kuhn, a former commission of Major League Baseball, with whom I appeared on a program in Decatur, Ill., along with Jerome Hanna “Dizzy” Dean, Bill Madlock, Roe Skidmore and Jim Doster.
Congressman Henry Hyde, of Illinois, whom I met and heard often, always will be appreciated for his staunch support of the unborn.
David Halberstam, who was killed in an automobile accident at the relatively young age of 73 in April, was a favorite writer for millions. I enjoyed him in private conversation as well as hearing him answer questions after public presentations. He was one of my favorite writers about sports. He could enjoy the game even as he analyzed the weighty and serious issues of his time.
There also were two lovely ladies who were so different yet had so much in common. They were known throughout the world. They loved each other and shared a common faith and commitment to their families. Ruth Graham, the wife of Billy Graham, completed her 87-year pilgrimage on June 14. Tammy Faye Bakker Messner, the ex-wife of Jim Bakker, died on July 20, the day after her last television interview with Larry King. Kitty and I enjoyed good times with each of these two inspiring women.
Three special friends completed their God-given assignments in answer to divine callings during 2007. I spent hours in their presence, hearing them preach and talking to them in private conversation. I always will remember with deep gratitude my special relationship with Jerry Falwell, D. James Kennedy and Rex Humbard. They made a positive impact on society that will last for eternity.
I would hope for all of us that the benediction and valedictory of which St. Paul wrote would rest upon our lives: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
It is all-important that we live well and finish well.