Use Well The Days





This song is not used in the movie.

It was featured on: Howard Shore: An Introspective

A bonus DVD with the ROTK LE soundtrack



Lyrics by J.R.R. Tolkien, and Philippa Boyens

Music composed by Howard Shore

Performed by Annie Lennox




Inspired by numerous Tolkien quotes found in

TTT, Book 3, Chapter 11, The Palantír

ROTK, Book 6, Chapter 4, The Field of Cormallen

ROTK, Book 6, Chapter 5, The Steward and the King

ROTK, Book 6, Chapter 6, Many Partings

ROTK, Book 6, Chapter 9, The Grey Havens

This song, found on the ROTK LE Bonus DVD, was an early consideration for ROTK's end of the movie song. Another alternate consideration for the end of the movie song was Frodo's Song which would have used Sindarin translations of "The Old Walking Song" that was a resource for Use Well the Days' first verse.

Sung by Annie Lennox

(follow numbered link to see the original Tolkien words)



Round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate
And though I have passed them by
A day will come
I will take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon and East of the Sun 
I’m glad that you are here with me,
here at the end of all things. 

Night too shall be beautiful
and blessed and its fear will pass
I must leave, must cross the Sea
The love you gave is all I take with me
Use well the days
Use well the days 
Turn your face to the green world  (5)
Use well the days

Seven stars and seven Stones
and one White Tree from over sundered seas
Use well the days
Use well the days
Turn your face to the green world
Use well the days


Text in blue indicates language used

Text in green indicates lyrics used

Howard Shore said/wrote this about "Use Well The Days":

After the recording of the extended cut of 'The Two Towers' in March I spent most of April in New Zealand with Peter, Fran, and Philippa looking at and dreaming about 'The Return of the King'.  On a beautiful clear day in Wellington, Fran and I thought about artists for the recording in August.  Annie Lennox was at the very top of our list.  I wrote Annie when I returned to Tuxedo, New York and while awaiting a reply wrote the melody to 'Use Well the Days'.  I met with Annie in New York City in June and played her this piece on our very first meeting.  A short time later in July Annie did a recording of the song at Abbey Road Studios in London. The song 'Into the West' was written a few months later with Fran and Annie and played beautifully to the end of the film and the personal, intimate feeling of Frodo and The Grey Havens.  I always felt that 'Use Well the Days' was part of the journey to 'Into the West', a place that we had to go to finally arrive at the Grey Havens and the end of the film. Annie's reading of the song is particularly beautiful and movie and I also love that it encompasses so many beautiful lines from the book.

~from the DVD: Howard Shore: An Introspective - bonus disc for the ROTK Special Edition Soundtrack


"Use Well The Days"... was a piece I started writing after thinking about Annie Lennox.  I went to New Zealand in April, and met with Fran Walsh, who collaborated with me on "In Dreams" and “Gollum’s Song” and we thought about different artists that we might want to work with.  Annie Lennox was at the top of the list.

On the way back to New York from New Zealand, I wrote Annie a letter talking about my process for the months ahead, and the film, to see if she was interested in it.  When I got back, I wrote a piece called "Use Well The Days" that used words adapted from Tolkien's lyrics, because Fran hadn't started the process yet.  Then when I met Annie in New York for the first time, I played her that piece - it was something I had written with her in mind.  I had just put together a demo. Then she recorded it at Abbey Road during the summer.

As we've worked on all these films, we've created so many things, and so many ideas - they lead you on a path - and "Use Well The Days" did exactly that.  It was like an early version of "Into the West".  So it's on this bonus DVD - you can hear Annie singing it.  It's not in the film, and it's not on the CD, but it was recorded during the making of his movie. 

~from Music From Returning Kings, an interview with Dan Goldwasser


Where do these words come from?

1. From: ROTK, Book 6, Chapter 9, The Grey Havens

Frodo sings this on the way to the Grey Havens:

Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate;
And though I
oft have passed them by,
A day will come
at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.

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)

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2. From: ROTK, Book 6, Chapter 3, Mount Doom and Chapter 4, The Field of Cormallen (the line is present in both chapters)

On Mount Doom, Frodo told Sam:

'I am glad that you are here with me,... Here at the end of all things, Sam.'

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3. From: ROTK, Book 6, Chapter 5, The Steward and the King

Frodo was anxious to leave Minas Tirith for home but Gandalf bid patience. Finally, Arwen arrived and Frodo said:

'At last I understand why we have waited! This is the ending. Now not day only shall be beloved, but night too shall be beautiful and blessed and all its fear pass away!'

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4. From: ROTK, Book 6, Chapter 6, Many Partings

When Aragorn leaves the entourage traveling from Minas Tirith to their respective homes, he took his leave of Celeborn and Galadriel and Galadriel said to him:

'Elfstone, through darkness you have come to your hope, and have now all your desire. Use well the days!'


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5. ROTK, Book 6, Chapter 5, The Steward and the King

When Gandalf takes Aragorn up into the mountains and tells him he will leave Middle-earth, Aragorn worries who will rule after he dies if Gandalf is not there to advise...

'Turn your face from the green world, and look where all seems barren and cold!' said Gandalf."

... and Aragorn turns to see the sapling in the snow.

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6. From TTT, Book 3, Chapter 11, The Palantír

Gandalf sang this while he and Pippin rode on Shadowfax

'Tall ships and tall kings
Three times three,
What brought they from the foundered land
Over the flowing sea?
Seven stars and seven stones
And one white tree.'

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I've been thinking about the song "Use Well the Days" and the message those four words send. They say a lot don't they? A friend had mentioned that this song really moved her and I agreed that it did me, also. I think one reason is who the song is aimed at. "Into the West" is all about the person dying/passing over. It's for Frodo. It's offering peace and comfort and healing to him. But "Use the Well" is about those of us left behind. It's turning us back to life. "Turn your face to the green world". It's for Sam and the rest of us. That summer I read Tolkien for the first time since my teen years... I cried along with Sam, "Don't go where I can't follow." And I wasn't only talking about losing Frodo, I was talking about losing the Elves, and Middle-earth. They were all going where I couldn't follow. Well, this song is for us. It's an 'encouraging song' (as Pooh might say). And I can use encouraging songs these days.