The Grey Havens/Frodo's Song

lyrics source song



Frodo's Song

not in movie

Early consideration for ROTK's end of movie song
(Rarities Archive - Track 20)



Music by Howard Shore

Translated into Sindarin by David Salo

Words by J.R.R. Tolkien

ROTK, Book 6, Chapter IX, The Grey Havens

This song was one of a few songs under consideration for ROTK's end of movie song. The first reveal of these lyrics gave them the name "The Grey Havens" and the song is listed in the LOTR book index as one occurrence of "The Old Walking Song"

It was never fully developed but an early versions was included on the Rarities Archive that came with The Music of the LOTR Films. (Track 20: Frodo's Song) Although the words from Frodo's Song were meant to go with this tune, they were never worked up for singing.

Track 23 on the Rarities Archive is a conversation between Howard Shore & Doug Adams. The background music is credited as "Frodo's Song Ver. 2 featuring Sir James Galway". Since Galway is featured for this music, I'm not sure if this version would have included singing. I suspect not.

Another alternate consideration for the end of the movie song was Use Well the Days which contains slight variations of the English lyrics from Frodo's Song.

"There was actually no documentation on the humming performer. Someone local, but not a 'name,' per se." Doug Adam


Original English


Text in blue indicates language used

Text in green indicates lyrics used

Text in brown indicates lyrics not used

Text in black indicates English translation

Dartha o nas a thar emyn Still round a corner there may wait
Men 'wain egor annon thurin A new road or a secret gate;
Ah ae anann erphennin hain And though I oft have passed them by,
Na vedui cenithon aur wain A day will come at last when I
I badathon raid yriel Shall take the hidden paths that run
Amrûn n'Anor, Annûn n'Ithil. West of the Moon, East of the Sun.

ROTK, Book 6, Chapter IX, The Grey Havens

Sam hears Frodo singing it softly as they make their way to the Grey Havens and notes that he has changed the words slightly. In response to this song, they hear approaching Elves singing "A Elbereth Gilthoniel".

In the LOTR index, the song is listed as one occurrence of "The Old Walking Song." (separate from "A Walking Song") However, the text of this song has nothing in common with the other iterations of "The Old Walking Songs. It is, in fact, a variant of a verse from the song listed as "A Walking Song" with the first line, "Upon the Hearth the Fire is Red." (from FOTR, Book 1, Chapter III, Three is Company)



"Oh, and it should be mentioned that I think I’ve finally pieced together the history of “Frodo’s Song” this week! It’s all so much clearer now… :)"
Doug Adams. Jan. 2008


2003 - The ROTK LE Bonus DVD : Poems, Text and Lyrics from the Return of the King

This was a feature that had slides displaying various source texts and images. One, The Grey Havens, was positioned between Aragorn's Coronation and Into the West. Without knowing exactly where each piece of source text was used, the list seems to follow the progression of the movie. If that were true, The Grey Havens would be heard between the coronation scene and the end of the movie.

A page was created (on this site) for the song in 2004 (predating my acquiring the magazine listed next)


2004 - Music from the Movies (MftM) magazine, Issue 42, July 2004, page 77-8 t.

A sidebar contained a sample of music with this heading:

and under that, this source text: This is clearly the same song from the ROTK-LE called The Grey Havens.

and from page 78, an interview with Howard Shore:

Peter said that you took a completely different approach when you scored 'The Grey Havens'. Tell me about this composition?

Frodo couldn't stay in the Shire, he had to leave, so the cart takes Bilbo and Frodo, while the rest of the Hobbits are riding their own ponies, towards The Grey Havens, but first they go to the harbour where they meet Elrond, Gandalf, and Galadriel. Now we start the last chapter, the final moments of the film. Wove all through these moments are Shire pieces, Gandalf piece, there's Elvish pieces playing to Elrond and Galadriel, and then as Frodo leaves Sam you start to hear little bits of 'The Grey Havens'. James Galway also plays at the harbour when Frodo leaves Sam and actually gets on the ship. 'The Grey Havens' is about the great parting of Frodo from The Shire. The melody here is played by ten cellos. The theme for 'The Grey Havens' was specifically created for the ships sailing away from Middle-earth. I wrote this theme while we working on 'Into the West' and then the decision was made to use that melody as part of the song. That's why 'The Grey Havens' and 'Into the West' are related.

During 'The Grey Havens' it took the choir great restraint and patience to perform this piece. The technique is very quiet and low-key, it's a very soft performance and beautifully melodic.

They are singing in Sindarin. (emphasis mine) When I first recorded this I didn't use any of Tolkien's languages, I had the choir singing with regular vowels, but I came back and redid it using Elvish text. I also had the choir do some humming, that came from our love of Puccini and the humming chorus from 'Madame Butterfly'. This is a very quiet choral moment.

It was unclear to me if the term 'Grey Havens' used in the interview above referred to the name of the scene, the name of the theme/melody, or the name of song/lyrics being sung. I speculated that the last line in Sindarin text, Amrûn n'Anor, Annûn n'Ithil, was heard as Frodo boarded the ship at the Grey Havens. I changed the source text name from Grey Havens to Grey Havens/Frodo's Song. I also added time stamps for ROTK OST Track 18 indicating where I thought the last line was sung. (later removed ... see entry below)


2007 -  AS-ROTK

The comments for that track makes no mention of the choir singing lyrics - only humming. And it had this side bar

UNUSED CONCEPT: An alternate full chorus composition, “Frodo’s Song” was written for Frodo’s departure from the Grey Havens, but was never used.

So, perhaps Howard's comment in MftM that he used Sindarin lyrics predated the decision to switch (back?) to the humming choir. This made sense to me. It was clear that some of the information provided via the sheet music in the MftM magazine was not correct in regards to the final movie/soundtrack releases. Maybe the articles were just researched and written too early in the editing phase to be used as 100% accurate resources.

I removed all indications that the last line was sung in the Grey Havens theme. The name of the source text remained Grey Havens/Frodo's Song.


2007 - comments on Doug Adams' blog

gkgyver asked Doug Adams (after the release of the AS-ROTK):

was "Frodo's Song" ever recorded, so that we can hear it on the upcoming release?

The choral text at least is in the LotR issue of MFTM.

Doug, you wrote the song was written for Frodo boarding the ship, so does that mean, working backwards, that the Grey Havens theme wasn't the first choice for that moment?

Or was Frodo's Song conceived when "Use Well The Days" was still thought to be THE song? But since Howard Shore himself said the Grey Havens theme existed before it was worked into "Into The West", either Frodo's Song must have existed before the Havens theme, or the theme really wasn't the first choice, which prompts the question: as important as this theme is, was this actually a last minute addition?

Doug Adams answered:

I’ve not actually been too far into the ROTK archives yet, so I’m not going to discuss much about “Frodo’s Song” just yet. Timeline-wise, however, I believe “Frodo’s Song” was part of the creative process around the same time as “Use Well The Days.” The Grey Havens theme wasn’t a last minute decision.

It very rare that anything in the final versions of the LOTR score exists without some sort of prior version. Now that prior version could be just HS’ original thoughts, a pencil sketch perhaps, a synth mock-up, or perhaps a fully composed and recorded piece. But it was very much a process of refinement. That said, that’s true of pretty much 99% of all creative efforts. It’s rare that anyone begins where they end.

“Frodo’s Song” is just one of many such early ideas on LOTR.