Rotary Songs

Singing Anyone?

Most non American Rotarians visiting American clubs generally notice one salient difference. Rotary Clubs elsewhere and especially in Britain do not sing before, during or even after meals. However, there was one notable exception in Britain. In 1921 at the Edinburgh International Convention, the first to be held in the British Isles, a report in the London ‘Times’ said that, “after the educational business had been disposed of, the Convention indulged in an interlude. It was suggested that after all the ‘high-brow’ music they had heard, the members should have a song on their own, and so the assembly joined in an American ditty called ‘Old Macdonald’s Farm’. The song had a loud chorus, the gathering obeying to the full the President’s injunction to ‘loosen up and sing’.


Robert Burns was Harris’ favorite poet. He is probably best remembered throughout the world for version of the song Auld Lang Syne. This particular song was performed for Paul Harris at The Rotary Club of Glasgow(#60) in 1928 led by the famous comedian/ singer and Glasgow Rotarian Sir Harry Lauder. (left)

Lauder, a personal friend of the founder, coined the phrase “Rotary is the golden strand in the cable of international friendship” which is the basis for the title of Oren Arnold’s analysis of Club #1.

Paul was clearly moved in this musical tribute and remarked to the President of Glasgow Rotary Club that it would be a lovely gesture for the Club to sing “Should Auld Acquaintance be forgot…” to all visiting Rotarians.1 The President replied with a frosty disdain “We dinna sing songs like that for everyone”.!!

Calum Thomson

Possibly Paul’s request got more attention than he realized. Rotary International’s annual convention traditionally closes with the singing of “Should Auld Acquaintance be Forgot…”



An Early Rotary song book from the Wolfgang Ziegler collection

The Index, note that there are songs in many languages