Songs for the Philologists
Search the Site
Links to Articles
Songs for the Philologists is perhaps the rarest and most difficult to find Tolkien-related publication (although Sir Orfeo could also state a claim). It began life as a set of duplicated typescripts prepared by E.V. Gordon in 1922-1926 for the amusement of English students at Leeds University. These typescripts included verses by Gordon and Tolkien, as well as other traditional songs in Old and Modern English and a variety of other languages.
In 1935 or 1936 Dr. A.H. Smith of University College London, formerly a student at Leeds, gave a copy of one of the typescripts to a group of students to print at their private press. The group included, amongst others, G.T. Ilotson, B. Pattison and H. Winifred Husbands. The booklet was printed in hand-set type as an exercise on a reconstructed wooden hand-press.
Dr. Smith later realised that he had not asked for permission from Tolkien or Gordon, so the completed booklets were not distributed. University College was bombed during the Second World War and the press, and most of the stock of printed items, were lost in the ensuing fire. Evidently some copies of Songs for the Philologists survived - those retained by Smith and the students who printed them. The number that survived the fire is unknown, but is undoubtedly very small - according to one report "more than thirteen".
There were thirty songs in the collection, thirteen of which were contributed by Tolkien:
From One to Five. A counting rhyme to be sung to the tune of Three Wise Men of Gotham. Tolkien's words were altered to suit University College rather than Leeds University.
Syx Mynet. In Old English, to be sung to the tune of I Love Sixpence.
Ruddoc Hana. In Old English, to be sung to the tune of Who Killed Cock Robin.
Ides Ælfscýne. In Old English, to be sung to the tune of Daddy Neptune. Reprinted, together with a Modern English translation (Elf-fair Lady) in The Road to Middle-earth.
Bagmē Blomā. In Gothic, to be sung to the tune of O Lazy Sheep!. Reprinted, together with a Modern English translation (Flower of the Trees) in The Road to Middle-earth.
Éadig Béo þu! In Old English, to be sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Reprinted, together with a Modern English translation (Good Luck to You) in The Road to Middle-earth.
Ofer Wídne Gársecg. In Old English, to be sung to the tune of The Mermaid. Reprinted, together with a Modern English translation (Across the Broad Ocean) in The Road to Middle-earth.
La Húru. To be sung to the tune of O' Reilly.
I Sat upon a Bench. A drinking song to be sung to the tune of The Carrion Crow.
Natura Apis: Morali Ricardi Eremite. Also to be sung to the tune of O'Reilly.
The Root of the Boot. To be sung to the tune of The Fox Went Out On A Winter's Night. Reprinted in The Annotated Hobbit, and in a revised form in The Return of the Shadow. Also reprinted in The Tolkien Papers: Mankato Studies in English. Later revised and printed in The Lord of the Rings and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil as The Stone Troll.
Frenchmen Froth. To be sung to the tune of The Vicar of Bray.
Two Little Schemes - Lit' and Lang'. To be sung to the tune of Polly Put the Kettle On.
The other songs were:
Grace. To be sung to the tune of The King of France.
Fara Með Vikingum.
Ja, Lattu Gamminn.
Bring Us In Good Ale.
Bjort Mey Og Hrein.
Icelandic Song. To be sung to the tune of O' Reilly.
Su Klukka Heljar. To be sung to the tune of The Bells of Hell.
Bi, Bi Og Blaka.
Guþ Let Vinper Vaxa. To be sung to the tune of Laus Deo.
Hwan Ic Beo Dead. [When I'm Dead]
Further information can be found in Wayne Hammond's J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive Bibliography. See pages 293-94.
Text © TolkienBooks.net 2003-2016 --- Images and quoted text remain copyright of the respective publishers and authors