music samples available:

The Woodland Glade:

Love Scene [complete]:

Lúthien's Dance:

the relevant pasages are highlighted in red in the music analysis and text below

the composer working on the full score of Beren and Lúthien, photographed by Tony Parry
a miniature vocal score is available for download from 

Tolkien’s writings on the subject of Beren and Lúthien are many and complex, and go back to the very earliest days of his work on the mythology.  There is a very early Tale (one of the Lost Tales) which maintains very little of the tone or content of the later development (in it, indeed, Beren is an Elf and not a Man) and this is of no use whatsoever in the context of the musical cycle.  The main development of the legend then took place through The Lay of Leithian, a very long narrative poem which Tolkien wrote at intervals during the 1920s and then extensively revised (especially in the early stages) during the early 1950s.  From this were derived a number of prose redactions which formed the main basis of the text in the published Silmarillion text, but there were also additional passages inserted into that text which derived from the Grey Annals.  Finally, there was another prose version of the beginning of the story, clearly written after the revised Lay of Leithian and forming in many places a paraphrase of the poem.  This, as will be seen, not only furnished some material for the text in the first two scenes, but also formed a model for later redevelopment of the poetic material in later scenes.  I must express here my thanks to Christopher Tolkien who took time to read through the proposed redrafted material and furnish some of Tolkien’s own unpublished drafts for comparison where comparisons were possible, and the drafts actually existed.  The final form of the text is however my own, and has no warrant other than that.

   It may be asked why it was necessary to make paraphrases of the original verse at all.  There were a number of reasons, some purely practical and others stylistic.  In the first place, the verses did not all lend themselves to setting without some reduction, and cutting eliminated the rhymes altogether; there were also places where the ends of lines, and the rhymes, consisted not of direct speech but phrases of narration or attribution, and elimination of these again eliminated the rhyme.  Secondly, I wished to import some passages from The Silmarillion text, and once this was done the prose passages stuck out rather baldly in the midst of the surrounding verse.  Thirdly, the verse Lay of Leithian gives out before the story is completed, and therefore willy-nilly the end of the drama would have to be in prose: in fact, in some of the most beautiful and haunting prose that Tolkien ever wrote.

   Even more importantly, there was the matter of tone.  Certain passages, such as the verses which formed the three love duets for Beren and Lúthien (one in each triptych), were eminently suited to music as they stood and could be left virtually untouched.  But other passages, and most notably the whole of the speeches allocated to Sauron and Morgoth, also were in verse; and it seemed inappropriate that the evil should express itself in the same manner as the good.  It is noteworthy that in his unpublished paraphrase of the verse, Tolkien gives the speech of the Orc-leader who kills Barahir (a passage cut altogether from this musical setting) a much more vicious and “orcish” tone than in the verse, although the general content of the passage is almost identical.  It seems very likely that he would have taken a similar line with the passages for Sauron and Morgoth later in the Lay; as, indeed, he does in the short passages for Sauron and Gorlim which do exist both in verse and prose forms.  It therefore became desirable to speculatively render some of the verse passages into a prose form, and this was done throughout the Sixth and Seventh Scenes.  Other scenes—the end of Scene Six, the whole of Scene Three and the greater part of Scene Eight—were left in verse form, although in some cases passages were transposed from the older drafts, and two whole poems were imported from similar situations in The Lord of the Rings where the Lay of Leithian lacked material or was incomplete.

   The prologue material is drawn entirely from the published text of The Silmarillion, with some minor paraphrase turning indirect into direct speech.  The first scene, the interrogation of Gorlim by Sauron, exists in full in the unpublished paraphrase, and in places this itself contradicts the text in The Silmarillion deriving from other versions of the story drafted at the same time.  I have conflated the various sources in a manner which I hope is found convincing, although it may perhaps be doubted that Sauron’s final words would have taken the form I give them in a final version made by Tolkien himself; The Silmarillion and its constituent texts have and thou shalt go to her, and be made free of my service while the unpublished paraphrase (deriving in turn directly from the revised Lay of Leithian) says and thou shalt to Eilinel, and lie with her, and know no more of peace or war.

  The phrase and lie with her draws attention to one very interesting point about the whole tale of Beren and Lúthien; it is the only work by Tolkien, I think, in which overt sexual and erotic  passion plays a major part.  Not just in the love story which forms the central part of the tale; Morgoth’s infatuation with Lúthien, his willingness to spare her and listen to her song, is in all versions of the story attributed to sexual desire.  So it seems only appropriate that Sauron, in telling Gorlim that his wife is dead, should light upon a phrase with immediate  and  obvious  sexual  overtones.  I  make  the point here, purely because it is something very unusual in Tolkien (other treatments of love elsewhere in Tolkien are dealt with in an entirely different manner) and because it does not appear to have been observed by any other commentators, especially those who accuse Tolkien’s writing of being sexless.

   Again in the second scene recourse is made to the unpublished paraphrase, but Gorlim’s speech as a wraith is left in the original verse.  Beren’s opening “aria” is derived from verse given in the Lay of Leithian, much later in the story, to Lúthien, and this does not exist in any version by Tolkien himself; Christopher Tolkien made one suggestion for the form of the prose in this passage, which I have gratefully adopted; the remainder of the paraphrase is my own.  The description of the manner in which Beren perceives Gorlim’s wraith (given to the chorus) is derived from Tolkien’s own paraphrase.  Beren’s second “aria” (in fact a development of the first, almost a cabaletta following the middle section formed by Gorlim’s warning!) is left in its original verse, but again transposed from indirect to direct speech; the following passage for the chorus begins as verse from The Lay of Leithian, and transforms itself progressively into prose deriving from The Silmarillion.

   The third scene is something unique in the whole of the cycle: a single poem enclosing a number of short scenes, the poem sung by the chorus and the short scenes by the soloists.  The symphonic nature of the whole is emphasised by the repetition of musical phrases in extenso, including a sort of simultaneous recapitulation before the last verse of the poem, and by the fact that the text of the poem is set in a ballad fashion to a repeated melody which does not occur elsewhere.  The poem itself is the song sung by Aragorn under Weathertop in The Fellowship of the Ring: a poem specifically about Beren and Lúthien, and centred on the scene which is now being enacted.  This is Tolkien’s own work, a ballad continually reworded and refined until its publication in The Lord of the Rings.  As such it is left entirely unaltered.  Lúthien’s verse in Elvish is that given in the revised Lay of Leithian (including its distinct and different metre); I have attempted to set it, not just as a fragment of Elvish in an unknown tongue, but as a living song reflecting the meaning of the words menel (heavens), ennorath (star-kindler), and so on, much of this derived from Tolkien’s own published glosses on the Elvish in The Lord of the Rings given in his useful appendix to Donald Swann’s song-cycle The Road Goes Ever On.

   Beren’s first “scene” is a straight setting of a later passage in The Lay of Leithian, but when Lúthien responds with her invitation to the dance, the verse passage is too short to be satisfactory.  Fortunately C S Lewis’s criticism of the early drafts of The Lay of Leithian provides a useful expansion of this very passage, which Tolkien later cut.  For the sake of balance it was necessary to delve into the author’s waste-paper basket and salvage the original version of the verse. Beren’s second “scene” again derives from The Lay of Leithian, now the original version since Tolkien’s  own   1950s revision  comes   to  a  halt  just before this point.

   The text for the fourth scene which opens the Second Triptych is drawn in its entirety from the published Silmarillion, with very little cutting or other alteration.  Beren’s opening remarks to Finrod in Scene Five are drawn from another passage of The Lay of Leithian: in fact, Lúthien talking to Huan the wolfhound (who, singing dogs not generally being found in this all too mortal world, can find no place in the context of dramatic staging), paraphrased to fit in with its context; the remainder of the scene again draws from the published Silmarillion, but the repeat of the Oath of the Sons of Fëanor uses the same text as in its original appearance in Fëanor itself.

   The sixth scene takes us away from the published Silmarillion text to a far greater extent.  The opening colloquy between Sauron and the supposed Orcs “Dungalef” and “Nereb” in The Lay of Leithian has been extensively reworked into prose, although the original material is left largely undisturbed.  When the chorus enters to tell of the contest in wizardry between Sauron and Finrod, the published Silmarillion quotes a section of the poetic Lay; and so, entering the same narrative mode, does the chorus.  The following scene between Finrod and Beren, with Sauron interrupting their discussion, again draws from the Lay, and again is rendered into prose.  The passage of Finrod’s death comes from the published Silmarillion.

   The text then goes on to tell of the song sung by Beren in praise of the stars, which Lúthien overheard and answered, frustratingly enough not given even in the Lay (where it would seem to be extremely apposite!).  At first it was my intention merely to omit the song and proceed directly to Lúthien overhearing Beren below (although exactly what she would have heard would have been problematical); and it was only at a very late stage that it occurred to me that there was a passage elsewhere in Tolkien where one person was searching for another imprisoned in a tower, sang a song of hope (which actually mentioned starlight), and heard a response which led them to what they sought.  The one person was, however, as far removed from Lúthien as it would be possible to imagine: Samwise Gamgee, the hobbit searching for his master Frodo in the Tower of Cirith Ungol.  At first the idea of using Sam’s song for Beren and Lúthien seemed impossible; but, as Sam observed, they were all really part of the same story.  And Sam’s song does seem to fit, with one small alteration: Sam’s merry finches are metamorphosed into Lúthien’s nightingales.  In this context, Lúthien sings the first verse and Beren replies; it is this reply that brings Lúthien to him.

   In the original tale (through all its various manifestations) Lúthien overcomes Sauron by the intervention of the wolfhound Huan.  Huan, as has been observed earlier, could only have been rendered onstage by being rendered absurd; so Sauron rises to meet Lúthien and capture her, and is then next seen conquered.  He keeps his poetic apostrophe to the powers of darkness (in the Lay of Leithian this came earlier, as a vow imposed by him on his servants) in its most  powerful original  verse.  And  the  original    verse remains also when Lúthien finds Beren and they sing of their love for each other: the second “love duet”, which closes the second Triptych.  The final words of the duet are, however, in prose; the first passage, for Beren, comes from the prose of the published Silmarillion; Lúthien’s reply is also from the same source but uses transposed words originally given to Huan.

   Having said that the wolfhound Huan would be absurd onstage, it next falls to the composer to defend the onstage appearance of the giant wolf Carcharoth at the beginning of the Third Triptych.  There are only limited defences available: it was possible (just) to do without Huan, but it was not possible at all to do without Carcharoth, who bites off Beren’s hand and kills him: and Carcharoth does not have to do anything except appear and attack, unlike Huan who has to react with the other characters and speak to them.  Like Glaurung in The Children of Húrin, Carcharoth is kept to the back of the stage, hopefully only semi-visible; any producer who makes a point of stressing the presence of either does so in defiance of the composer’s intentions.  The same applies to Morgoth, when he appears; a dimly glimpsed shadow is far more effective than any all too tangible monster.

   When Morgoth does appear, his words and Lúthien’s replies are drawn entirely from The Lay of Leithian, but again for the reasons already given are transposed into prose.  The passage following Lúthien’s dance describing the bewilderment of Morgoth, given to the chorus, are taken direct from the published Silmarillion; the short verse passage for Lúthien as she rouses Beren comes from the Lay, and the final section of the scene reverts once more to the prose Silmarillion text. 

   At this point Tolkien’s verse text for The Lay of Leithian gives out (except for one short fragment, which will be referred to later).  The scene where Beren and Lúthien meet again in the spring therefore lacks any text.  Resort is therefore made to an earlier passage in the Lay, where Beren leaves on a solitary quest leaving Lúthien asleep, and her response when she finds him again: that she will follow wherever he goes.  The meaning here is different, for Beren is to die and Lúthien is to follow him to death; but the sentiments are almost identical, and this therefore provides the third “love duet” which forms the bulk of Scene Eight.  The final words of the scene come from the published Silmarillion text again.

   One of the most haunting passages in all Tolkien is his prose description of  the Halls of Waiting whither Lúthien comes in search of Beren.  This forms the opening of the ninth scene.  The passage has its echoes in the fragment, referred to earlier, which Tolkien sketched at the end of the Lay of Leithian as “a fragment from the end of the poem”.  Lúthien’s song before Mandos is nowhere given, but the haunting “fragment” gives a glimpse of what might have been.  The final words of the work however return to Aragorn’s song under Weathertop, and to the music of the end of the First Triptych, binding the whole into a musical as well as dramatic unity.


Morgoth unleashes his armies against the Elves, and Finrod is only saved by the intervention of Men (the Second Children of Ilúvatar) led by Beren; Finrod promises to aid Beren in need if he requires help.


First Triptych

Scene One

Beren is forced to live as an outlaw in the wilderness, and Finrod retreats to his secret  fortress of Nargothrond.    Beren’s companion Gorlim is captured by Morgoth’s lieutenant Sauron and forced to reveal Beren’s hiding place.  Sauron has Gorlim killed.

Scene Two

The wraith of Gorlim appears to Beren in a vision and warns him to flee.  Beren escapes Sauron’s force of Orcs and seeks refuge in the Hidden Kingdom of Doriath.

Scene Three

In Doriath Beren encounters Lúthien, the beautiful daughter of the Elvenking Thingol, dancing by moonlight in a forest glade.  He pursues her and gains her love.


Second Triptych

Scene Four

Thingol and his spouse Melian of the people of the Valar interrogate Beren.  Thingol declares that Beren can only wed his daughter if Beren will bring him a Silmaril from Morgoth’s crown, and Beren promises that when he next looks on Thingol’s face, he will hold a Silmaril in his hand.  Melian foresees disaster.

Scene Five

Beren calls upon Finrod to fulfil his promise of aid, but Fëanor’s sons warn Finrod not to meddle in the matter of the Silmarils.  Finrod abdicates his crown in favour of his brother Orodreth and sets forth into the wilderness with Beren.

Scene Six

Beren and Finrod are captured by Sauron, who imprisons them and threatens them with death if they will not reveal their errand.  He sends a wolf to their dungeon, but Finrod wrestles with the wolf and kills it to save Beren, although he is slain in the combat.  Lúthien’s voice is heard; she has come in search of Beren.  She overcomes Sauron and forces him to flee, then rescues Beren from captivity; despite his objections she insists on accompanying him on his quest.


Third Triptych

Scene Seven

Beren and Lúthien reach Morgoth’s stronghold in Angband.  They  cast  the  wolf  Carcharoth who guards the Gate into slumber, and come before Morgoth.  Lúthien offers to dance for the Enemy, and succeeds in casting the whole of Angband into sleep; Beren cuts a Silmaril from Morgoth’s crown.  But Carcharoth awakening bars their escape, and bites off Beren’s hand which holds the Silmaril.  Beren and Lúthien flee.

Scene Eight

Back in Doriath, Beren lies near to death.  Lúthien promises to follow him wherever he goes.  Thingol enters  and asks  for the Silmaril; Beren   replies  that  the Silmaril is indeed in his hand, and that his doom is now complete.  He dies.

Scene Nine

Lúthien follows Beren to the Realm of Mandos, where the Dead dwell.  She sings to Mandos and moves him to pity, and he releases Beren from death.



Beren and Lúthien live in the woods of Middle-Earth, and pass away into the forest singing sorrowless.



Many of the themes which are familiar to audiences in Fëanor recur in Beren and Lúthien and the subsequent parts of the cycle.  Reference is made to these themes by the numbers assigned to them in the musical analysis of Fëanor.

   The work opens with a brief and violent prologue in which events prior to the story are detailed.  Following Fëanor’s invasion of Middle-Earth in pursuit of Morgoth, there occurs (some 450 years later in Tolkien’s original mythology, but this can be imagined as a much shorter space of time in the context of the cycle here) Dagor Bragollach, the Battle of Sudden Flame; and the work opens with these words declaimed unaccompanied by the male chorus:



The resemblance of the opening of this phrase to 4, the theme of Morgoth, is of course no accident.  There follows a brief orchestral passage depicting the battle itself, which consists of three elements: a series of sharp discords in woodwind and brass,



a rushing series of chromatically altered scales in the strings,



and, underpinning it all, a repetitive rhythm which derives from the latter part of 57:



The chorus, now with its female members added, enters with a description of the battle and the forces summoned by Morgoth.  Among these are mentioned wolves and serpents, and the music winds itself into a chromatic phrase:



It will be noted that this phrase is once again underpinned by Morgoth’s augmented-fourth harmonies (see, for example, 28) and it will later become the theme of Morgoth’s lieutenant Sauron.

   Finrod is involved in the battle; his characteristic 22 sounds through the texture.  He is overwhelmed by force of numbers and the mortal men Beren now appears to rescue him.  Beren has a characteristic phrase which recurs in many guises, but its initial appearance is brief:



With his help, the forces of Sauron and Morgoth are driven back and Finrod is rescued.  A sprightly theme characterises his heroic deeds:



Finrod swears an oath (22, with 62 in the bass) to Beren that he will aid him in any future need (hints of 61), and departs from the battlefield.  63 subsides into a rocking bass as 59 finally dies away.

   The chorus sing of Finrod’s retreat to his fortress of Nargothrond, and a characteristic figure (which will recur often) in the bass underpins their narrative:



There is a brief reference to 4 as the chorus turn to the unfortunate Gorlim (who has been seen as one of Beren’s followers in the battle) and his capture by Sauron.  Gorlim’s characteristic theme is initially given out by the woodwind:



and Gorlim is brought before Sauron (61, with 60 on the bass drum).  The captive Gorlim is approached by Sauron: 61 appears insinuatingly beneath his words.  Sauron aspires to Morgoth’s monotone (itself an aspiration to the Elder King’s one note) but whereas Morgoth in his most powerful mode nearly attains Manwë’s single note, Sauron, tugged around by his chromatic theme, rarely achieves more than a vocal line which moves one semitone at a time.  That is the case here.  Gorlim (whose 65 continually accompanies his words) is tormented by thoughts of his lost wife, Eilinel:



and eventually he allows himself to be daunted by Sauron.  The theme of Daunting is at first heard in isolation by itself:



but eventually it will become combined with the rhythm of 60 and take on an independent existence.  There is one other theme associated with Sauron, and it is the theme of Enchantment, his power not merely to dominate but also to insinuate thoughts into the minds of others.  Sauron explains to Gorlim that he has been deluded by a phantom, for Eilinel (66) his wife is already dead:



This theme, like 61, derives ultimately from my earlier work on The Lord of the Rings (where they represent respectively Sauron as the Dark Lord and the Ring itself), but in the form they take in The Silmarillion they also occur in the piano rondo Akallabêth.  It is easier in this context to forget the Lord of the Rings context, although the use of the same themes here is not inconsistent with their use elsewhere.  Sauron has the treacherous Gorlim executed.  67 rises up through the texture, is succeeded by a reference to 16 and 30 as the Orcs close in on the chained prisoner, and is then abruptly truncated to be succeeded by rapid repetitions of 61.

   The scene changes to the shores of a desolate lake in the highlands where Beren (the choral line refers to 62) wanders as an outlaw.  The lake itself has a drear and misty theme, full of open fourths and fifths in the harmonies:



and this theme remains largely unaltered, without additional harmonisation or any modulation, as the chorus sings of Beren’s life of wandering.  Beren himself now sings for the first time, of Gorlim astray or dead in the forest (65) and of his weariness and loneliness.  A new theme, over the same dragging and persistent bass, underlines his words.  The opening interval and first three notes of the theme echo Beren’s own 62:



At the end of Beren’s “aria” a new melody extends itself in the highest register of the strings over the persistent repetitions of 70, like a vision of peace:



and 70 itself peters away into nothingness.

   The textures darken, as the chorus describe Beren falling into unconsciousness.  Repetitions of.69 lead to the return of 65 as the wraith of Gorlim appears to him; apart from one brief reference to 4, Gorlim’s words are entirely accompanied by variants of 65 in varying rhythms while his words are sung to a developed version of 67.  As he vanishes, 69 reappears in the double-basses.  Beren rises, and proclaims his desire for vengeance:



and then frantic repetitions of  62  accompany his words as he sings (to the melody of 70):

                No more shall hidden bowstring sing,

                no more shall shaven arrows wing!

                No more my hunted head shall lie

                upon the heath beneath the angry sky.

The chorus take up the theme as they sing of his departure from the North, and references to 4 die away into misty chromatic scales.  The interlude which follows opens with 62 followed immediately by 72 as the chorus sing of the perils of Beren’s journey southwards; fleeting reference to 69 leads suddenly and unexpectedly to an fff restatement of 27 from Fëanor; it is Ungoliant and her progeny who are hunting the fleeing mortal.  A reference by the chorus to

                the long night before the coming of the Sun

brings back 7, but this is again overwhelmed by 27, now rising to ffff and largamente molto.

   There is a sudden change of atmosphere, as the woodland glade in Doriath is revealed.  A solo flute onstage plays delicate arabesques, at first over held string chords:



and then unaccompanied:



As has already been remarked, the scene of meeting between Beren and Lúthien is a closed form of its own.  The chorus sings, at first unaccompanied:



and then with the flute weaving arabesques around more sustained harmonies:



as Lúthien runs into the glade and begins to dance.  Her words are accompanied by a delicate filigree on the harp:



and  the references in her song to Ilúvatar  (1),  Elbereth (3), Doriath (10), the Elves (8) are all accompanied by the appropriate themes repeated from Fëanor; the only new theme which is heard is that of Lúthien herself:



which is suddenly interrupted by 62 as Beren stumbles into the glade.  As he stops as if enchanted the two themes of Beren and Lúthien, 77 and 62 are combined into a new melody:



before the chorus resumes the refrain of 75.  Lúthien flees into the forest, and Beren is left lonely still to roam in the silent forest listening; a new theme now appears, that of Beren’s desire:



which is repeated twice before the solo flute brings back a wistful echo of 73.

   With sudden liveliness the chorus takes up its refrain 75 again over an accompaniment of whirling flute and pizzicato strings as Beren sees Lúthien dancing beneath the moon on a distant hilltop.  At the climax of the verse a new theme emerges con slancio on the full orchestra:



and this theme continues to sound as Lúthien calls to Beren to join her in the dance.  As Beren starts after her into the forest, a sudden chill descends on the music, but the dance themes continue to be heard in bassoons and strings:



The chorus returns to its refrain of 75 but this is now much slower as Beren wanders through the shivering forest in search of Lúthien.  62 returns and this in turn leads to another new theme, sung by the chorus to the words

                He sought her ever, wandering far

                where leaves of years were thickly strewn:



Beren calls to Tinúviel through the forest, as 83 wells up in the orchestra and then gives way to other themes (3, 8 and 52) before 83 returns ppp as Beren sings:

                The woods are bare! 

                Ere spring were born, the spring hath died!

and 79 reappears as Lúthien returns to Beren’s side, forming an accompaniment to the chorus’s 75.  The still quiet restatement of that refrain is accompanied by rustling strings and wind, with 62 forming a shifting bass line beneath.  This in turn gives way, still to the accompaniment of rustling strings, to a full restatement of the solo flute theme from the beginning of the scene (74) over two statements of 80.

  The music quivers with ecstasy as 75 re-emerges in the chorus, now very slow and delicate, and accompanied by statements of 62 and 77 drifting in the violins, flowing woodwind arpeggios and the ever-rustling strings.  As the chorus bring their final statement of 75 to a close, and darkness enshrouds the scene as the lovers fall into a long embrace, 71 returns, again in the highest register of the violins, accompanied by the gentle movement of 70 and hints of 77 flecked in the harp.  The curtain falls very slowly as 70 turns from the minor to the major for the final chord.

   The prelude to the second act is a complete and full restatement of the whole of the Doriath melody 10 with the solo flute strongly featured.  Thingol, the King of Doriath and Lúthien’s father, now appears and interrogates Beren to a descending series of chords:



to which Lúthien (78) responds.  Her reference to Beren’s many brave deeds bring back a reference to 63; indeed, it may be noted here that, after the profligate use of new melodic material in Scene Three, Scene Four confines itself with much greater circumspection to the use of existing themes.  Thingol’s angry response to Lúthien uses 62, 10 and 84; Beren’s reply takes up the melody of 80 and contains references to 27, 8 and 78 before 80 returns; there are then further references to 63, 24, 8, 62, 78, 77 and 79 as Beren declares before Thingol his love for Lúthien.  At that moment there is a sudden convulsive theme hammered out by the full orchestra:



as Thingol, in a cold tone, declares Death you have earned with those words; and indeed this theme is the theme of Death.

  Beren is undismayed (63); he holds up the ring of Finrod Felagund (22) and reminds Thingol of his service on the battlefield of the North (57).  Melian leans hastily over to Thingol:



and warns him that Beren’s fate is entwined with his.  But Thingol can think only of his daughter (78, followed by 85).  He acknowledges Beren’s deeds (22 and 63); but these avail not to win the daughter of Thingol and Melian (78 entwined with 84 and 86).  He has a price to extract, and 26 hints already at what this might be; his oblique references to the fires of Morgoth (24) and the powers of the Elvenkingdoms (8) which do not daunt you (63) leads back to a restatement of 26 accompanied by the rhythms of 60 molto grandioso on the full orchestra.  He demands a Silmaril from Morgoth’s crown, whereupon Beren may claim Lúthien as his bride (79 and 80), even though the fate of the earth lie within the Silmarils (reference back here to the end of the first triptych of Fëanor with 19).  Beren laughs, and promises to perform Thingol’s will, as 26 becomes a new phrase with the addition of 62:



A complex web of 26, 87, 77, 78 and 84 accompany Beren as he departs on his quest; but the phrase which emerges from this is Melian’s 86 as she warns Thingol that he has doomed either your daughter or yourself.  Thingol’s reply is unwavering: I sell not to Elves (8) or Men (42) those whom I love and cherish (78) above all treasure (26).  One final muttering of 62 is heard over an extended restatement of 10, which again brings back the solo flute from the prologue, now brooding and dark.  The reference here is to the legend of the flautist and minstrel Daeron, who went into exile from Doriath in Tolkien’s original myths.

   The scene changes to Nargothrond, where Beren appears before Finrod.  The whole of this scene consists of already heard musical material: Beren’s plea for aid is accompanied by 62, 22, 72, 85 and 80; Finrod’s reply acknowledging his debt and his oath and explaining the guards that Morgoth has set about the Silmarils is accompanied by 64, 26, 23, 4 and 53 culminating in an exact quote of 26 from the first triptych of Fëanor where the Silmarils were first seen.  Finrod goes on to refer to the Oath of Fëanor and his sons (39) which conflicts with his own oath (22).  There then follows a choral restatement of the Oath of Fëanor recapitulating the material from the second triptych of Fëanor but now the timpani chords which originally accompanied the Oath are replaced by a full orchestral accompaniment.  Finrod stands and takes his crown from his head (22, followed by a turbulent variation on 64; he laments the shadow of our curse (49) before 22 is haltingly but loudly blasted out by the full orchestra.  Beren (62) reaffirms Finrod’s rightful claim to the crown (22 and 64) as the scene ends.

   There now follows a turbulent orchestral interlude which takes as its basis 10 but combines it in rapid and kaleidoscopic counterpoint with 8, the latter part of 6, and 4 finally culminating in a downward chromatic slide reminiscent of 61 as Sauron captures Finrod and Beren (this material was originally written as part of the development section of the Third Symphony).  He interrogates them to a heavy statement of 61 simultaneously stated at normal speed and at half-speed a fifth below.  This counterpoint continues beneath Finrod’s evasive replies, referring to tears and distress (4), burning fires and flowing blood (24).  Finrod expresses ignorance of what has transpired in Nargothrond (64 and 22), even denying his own abdication.  Sauron is unimpressed (14) but goes on to ask after the fair white body of Lúthien (77 in the highest reaches of the oboe, accompanied by 60 and the harmonies of 14).  This enrages Beren, and his grim expression arouses Sauron’s suspicions.  67 returns in a fragmented form on muted trumpets and horns; Beren attempts to deflect suspicion (62) but Sauron advances towards them and unveils his cloak (61, as before in counterpoint at the fifth).

   The contest of wizardry between Sauron and Finrod is told in verse, as in the fragment of The Lay of Leithian introduced into the published Silmarillion, and is given to the chorus.  67 now takes on a new form, using the rhythm of 60, as the chorus sing

                He chanted a song of wizardry,

                of piercing, opening, of treachery:



Finrod’s theme soars higher above the chorus (22) but Sauron’s 61 in increasing agitation overwhelms it.  Finally Finrod falls before the Throne and 22, 61 and 62 subside before a massive eruotion of wind and thunder.  Beren and Finrod are seen in their dungeon.  Beren offers to tell all to Sauron to save Finrod’s life (22 and 62), releasing him from his oath; but Finrod (8) warns that neither of them would ever escape from Sauron’s clutches (62, 61 and 4) if once he knew their quest (26).  But Sauron has overheard their words (61, again in counterpoint at the fifth), and while declining to save the outlaw mortal (42), resolves to save the undying Elvenking (22 and 8) who could suffer much that no man might endure.  The rhythm of 60 thunders out as a wolf appears and advances on the prisoners:



Finrod  breaks  his  bonds and struggles with the     wolf (61, 89, 62 and 22 in violent opposition) and breaks its neck; but he falls mortally wounded in the fight.  As he falls back into Beren’s arms a new theme is heard:



Those familiar with Donald Swann’s settings of Tolkien in The Road Goes Ever On will recognise this phrase as being one written by Tolkien himself as part of his setting of Namárië, Galadriel’s farewell to the Fellowship of the Ring on their departure from Lothlórien.  Its use here is deliberate, for this is a theme of farewell.  Finrod dying (22) tells Beren (62) of his departure to his long rest in the timeless halls beyond the seas and the mountains (8).  The orchestra refers to the theme of Mandos (17) before a solo violin and cello whisper a last farewell (90) and Finrod dies (85).

   A voice is heard from above; Lúthien sings of the wonders of nature and of the Elvenstars.  The music for this song originated in a separate setting of Sam’s song in The Lord of the Rings but a number of alterations were made.  85 returns at the end of the verse as Beren raises himself in defiance.  At his words

                beyond all towers strong and high,

                beyond all mountains steep,

a new phrase will subsequently recur:



The phrase of Namárië (90) continues to recur around the gentle restatements of 85 as he brings the song to an end on the word farewell.  The orchestra at once take up again the opening phrase of 91, Lúthien’s voice responds with the second phrase:

                I hear a song far under welling,

and Beren’s own 62 recurs again as she hears his voice.  But Sauron too has heard her (61, yet again with counterpoint at the fifth) and seeks to confront her.  She overwhelms him by the power of light (77 and 78 rising above 61); she threatens him with annihilation (68, stated both as a sequence of notes and as a simultaneously sounded chord).  Sauron rises in defiance:




and 68 forms both the melody and (at eight times the speed) the harmony to his apostrophe to the powers of darkness, which terminates with a restatement of 92 and a final dying whisper of 68.

   Lúthien comes forward to find Beren, crouched over the body of Finrod; a memory of 22 precedes 62, and then a new theme: 



This theme will continue to dominate the remainder of the scene; a love theme for the reunited Beren and Lúthien.  After Lúthien has sung it, Beren repeats the long melody; a brief reference to 4 at the phrase terror’s lair hardly interrupts the extended outpouring.  But when Beren contemplates his oath to Thingol (26) and the thought that he has brought Lúthien’s life into peril (85), he wishes that he had been slain.  Lúthien reassures him (91); 93 returns as she sings of her love which has made her subject to his doom (87, 85 and 26).  A final restatement by the orchestra of 93 is interrupted as Beren points to the body of Finrod (22) and Lúthien recoils (61 and 68).  Further fff statements of 22 and 78 bring the second triptych to an end—the longest single musical span so far in the whole of the cycle.

   The third triptych starts with a sinister choral setting describing the fortress of Morgoth in Angband, with vast heights and pits suggested on all sides.  Over a bass drum roll the solo trombone blares forth a desolate phrase derived from 9:



and this is taken up by the chorus.  Sinister rumbles in the timpani and vague suggestions of 4 hardly disturb the atmosphere of oppression.  As the chorus comes to a conclusion the texture suddenly clears as a chilly phrase appears, the upper part on piccolo and flutes and the lower part, four octaves below, on bassoons:



The long phrases coil and wind round one another in changing and different registers as Beren and Lúthien appear across the desert plains before the Gate of Morgoth.  Suddenly they see the doorwarden, the giant wolf Carcharoth (89 returned).  A rapid patter of 60 and a disjointed series of 62 accompanies 89 as Beren challenges the wolf, but 89 it is which rises higher and higher as the wolf seeks to attack him.  Suddenly Lúthien stands forward with upraised hand, and her cloak of darkness and sleep ready to overcome the wolf:



This new phrase, repeated in several different registers, is accompanied by rapid figurations based on 77 and a deep slow bass line based on 78.  89 also joins in the cacophony, but suddenly falls in a descending chromatic line as Carcharoth falls unconscious at Lúthien’s feet and dies away in a series of rapid reiterations of the opening four notes of 89 (which are also, by no coincidence, the notes of 61).  The voice of Morgoth is heard from below, and 4 rises up in a newly elevated form:



which pierces through any attempt to hide from thy Lord’s gaze (96).  As Beren and Lúthien descend to the Throne of Darkness, heavy statements of 12 rise through the orchestra, as the harmonies of minor seconds and diminished fifths conjure up the vision of Morgoth before the eyes of the horrified Beren and Lúthien.

   Lúthien adopts the form of a bat in the original text (by covering herself with the skin of Thúringwethil); in this context she does not change form, but Morgoth refers to her a bat and she still assumes the identity of Thúringwethil.  96 illustrates the deception which she seeks to practice; but Morgoth thunders out his demand for her real name:



Lúthien puts aside her disguise, and Morgoth gloats over his prize (96 and 4).  He asks why Thingol cannot keep his daughter secure, and Lúthien represents herself as in rebellion against her father and seeking refuge in Angband.   Morgoth’s reply is much softened (98 in gentle strings) and shortly 97 (itself a transformation of 4) is itself transformed into an almost caressing melody:



Morgoth sings (now totally forsaking his blasting monotones and becoming almost human in the shape of his melodic line) of the Bliss of Valinor and the delights of the flesh.  A new theme laps around his voice as he sings of the honey-sweet blossoms which he has lost:



before 98 returns in an even more heightened lyricism.  Lúthien offers her services before him as a minstrel (to a similarly caressing variant of 96 over 99 and followed by a rocking rhythm founded on 77) before she begins her dance.

   The dance of Lúthien is an extended orchestral fantasy on a number of themes already heard—96, 77, 78, 81 and 82 all figure—before a new theme, almost capricious in its delicate cross-rhythms, forms a trio to the dance:



and 81 and 82 return in greater frenzy before a sudden quiet descends.  The chorus gently re-enters as Morgoth and his court are enchanted into sleep: the themes of the first part of the dance return almost as a gentle lullaby, and as Morgoth’s head droops and his crown falls to the floor 94 is heard in the lowest depths of the orchestra.  All is still as Beren cuts the Silmaril from the crown (26 and 62 in harmonisation).  But Morgoth’s court is roused: 16, 17, 31 and 97 rise above an ever-more insistent 98.  The wolf Carcharoth menaces Beren and Lúthien as they make their escape (89) and Beren tries to menace him with the Silmaril clasped in his hand (26); but the wolf bits off the hand together with the Silmaril it holds, and Beren and Lúthien flee desperately into the darkness.  In the original story they are rescued by the Eagles whose intervention plays such an important part at such junctures in all Tolkien’s tales from The Hobbit through The Lord of the Rings to several similar instances in The Silmarillion, but for reasons of staging I decided to suppress the perhaps rather too obvious overtones of the deus ex machina.  But the theme of the Eagles (which I had formerly used in my drafts for The Hobbit) does recur here, and again at a later point in The Fall of Gondolin where the Eagles played a part, so the deus ex machina is present in spirit if not in the flesh:



   The eighth scene opens in a forest glade back in the Hidden Kingdom of Doriath.  The plunging flight theme of 102 gives way to a gently undulating theme which rises from the lowest depths of the basses:



and this in turn engenders a slowly moving theme sung by Beren to the words

                Farewell now here, ye leaves of trees,

                you music in the morning breeze!



Beren lies near to death, and his gentle song of farewell to the earth and to Lúthien is founded entirely around this new theme.  When Lúthien responds, it is with words of hope, because she sees and proclaims that death is not the end of the story of their love. A new theme emerges as she sings

Oh bold and fearless hand and heart,

                not yet farewell!  Not yet we part!



to an extended harmonisation of 77.  20, a theme heard in Fëanor on a few occasions as an adjunct to the theme of Mandos as the Lord of Death, now rises ever higher in the orchestra, its final phrase moving the music ever into more exalted keys, as she sings

                Beloved fool! escape to seek

                from such pursuit:

and then, as the two lovers embrace to the words

                Though all to ruin fell the world

                and were dissolved and backward hurled

                unmade into the old abyss,

yet another new theme, as the real “love duet” of the work reaches its climax:




Thingol and Melian enter the glade (to a combination of their themes, 84 and 86).  Beren looks up at them with pain in his eyes (104 weaving its way in counterpoint with itself) and explains that a Silmaril is indeed in his hand (26), holding up his severed wrist in evidence.  84 becomes more sombre as he lies back dying, saying that his doom is full-wrought.  As he sinks into death 85 sounds gently through the orchestra, and Lúthien sinks down upon his breast.

   The scene is still.  The harmonies of the theme of Mandos himself (19) return, heard for the first time since Fëanor, and now 20 instead of rising out of the theme and developing into new keys, is almost lost as the spirit of Lúthien comes to the realm of the dead seeking for Beren.  The chorus sing gently of her beauty which moves even the Powers (2) where those that wait sit in the shadow of their thought.  Lúthien sings to Mandos, and 105 rises in gentle spirals ever higher as she sings of the Lands of Ease and the lands of the lost.  Mandos raises his hand, and Lúthien dies upon the body of Beren; but, again, she and Beren are rejoined in life, as 85 undergoes a mystical translation:



The light slowly fades, and there is no movement as the unseen voices of the chorus quietly murmur the final words of the legend to the return of 75 (not heard since the scene of the lovers’ meeting):

                The Sundering Seas between them lay,

                and yet at last they met once more,

                and long ago they passed away

                in the forest, singing, sorrowless.



[in the following origins of texts are cited from the following:
HME   History of Middle-earth, ed Christopher Tolkien
Silmarillion, ed Christopher Tolkien
LR   The Lord of the Rings
Page references are to relevant volume in the original hardback editions and are used with the permission of the Tolkien Estate and HarperCollins]


FIRST TRIPTYCH                         



The stage is laid out on three levels.  Across the back there is a raised platform, which to the right extends forward across the stage to the front.  From this level various ramps and slopes descend to the lower (main) level of the stage, one part of which is sometimes lowered further to produce a pit or dungeon. The Curtain rises into a scene covered in dense mist

UNSEEN VOICES   Dagor Bragollach, the Battle of Sudden Flame!   [adapted from the Quenta Silmarillion, HME Vol 5 page 280]

    Fires erupt through the mist, at first spasmodically and then in increasing brightness.  As dark shadows against the

    flames, shapes move: an army, bent on conquest

Slowly, like a cloud, the Shadow rolled from the North.  On the proud, that would not yield, the vengeance of Morgoth fell; to death or thraldom all the North was doomed beneath his ghastly hand.  His hosts he armed with spears of steel and brands of flame, and at their heels the wolf walked and the serpent crept with lidless eyes.                                   

In the near foreground a group of warriors stand alone, isolated against the ghastly forces of Morgoth that surround them.  At their head is the Elvenking Finrod Felagund, and by his side stands the mortal man Beren son of Barahir with twelve companions, among whom is Gorlim               

Now forth leaped his ruinous legions, kindling war in field and forest and fenland.  And in the fen of reedy Serech stood at bay Finrod with a small company in the day of defeat; and Beren son of Barahir with his people came up with the bravest of his men to rescue him.  And they cut their way out of the battle with great loss.   [adapted from The Lay of Leithian revised version, HME Vol 3 page 334] 

The forces of Morgoth are driven towards the back of the stage.  Finrod comes to Beren, who stands leaning on his sword                            

FINROD   An oath I shall swear, of abiding friendship and aid in every need; and this oath I shall freely fulfil, even if I go down into the darkness.   [adapted from the Quenta Silmarillion, HME Vol 5 page 281]                              

He gives Beren his ring in token of this promise, and leads his Elvish forces away to the back.  The front of the stage vanishes into total darkness.  Finrod turns at the summit of the hill towards the back and raises his arm in salute, before he too vanishes into the mist and gloom                                                                


Interlude and Scene One                                 

The fires die down, and below at the front of the stage a deep pit is slowly revealed     

UNSEEN VOICES  Thus Felagund escaped, and returned to his dark fortress of Nargothrond; and there abode, unconquered still and defying the sleepless hate of Morgoth.  [adapted from The Lay of Leithian revised version, HME Vol 3 page 334] But Gorlim was enslaved, his house plundered and forsaken; and he was brought into the dreadful presence of Sauron, the Dark Lord. [adapted from the Quenta Silmarillion, HME Vol 5 page 296]

Gorlim is now seen, chained and fettered to the sides of the pit at the front of the stage.  Above the pit is seen a dark and brooding form, that of Sauron

SAURON   Wouldst thou forsake thy life, who with a few words might win release for Eilinel thy wife, and go in peace and dwell forever far from war, friends of Morgoth the Elder King?              

GORLIM   Eilinel, Eilinel!  I cannot forsake you.  I cannot linger, cold and loveless as a barren stone!

SAURON   So thou wouldst bargain with me?  What is thy price?                           

GORLIM   That I may find my Eilinel again, and with her be set free.                  

SAURON   That is a small price for so great a treachery.  So shall it surely be.  Say on!  Where may the rebel Beren now be found?                      

He advances to the very edge of the pit.  Gorlim recoils in his fetters, but is drawn to look into the daunting eyes of Sauron who stares grimly into his face                        

Thou base and cringing worm! now drink the cup that I have sweetly blended for a fool!  Thou art deluded by a phantom, made to snare thy lovesick wits.  Thy Eilinel is long since dead, food for worms less low than thou.  Nonetheless I shall grant thy prayer; and thou shalt to Eilinel, and be set free of my service, to know no more of war—or of manhood.   [adapted from The Lay of Leithian revised version, HME Vol 3 pages 338-39]              

He signs to his creatures, who descend to Gorlim in the pit.  They close in on the chained man, and then  one holds up his head.  Sauron smiles.  Sudden darkness                                                                                              


Interlude and Scene Two                                 

   Mists begin once more to swirl across the scene

UNSEEN VOICES   But still there remained in hiding cold Beren, once a prince of men, of land bereft and lordship shorn, now lurking as an outlaw in the grey woodland.  [adapted from The Lay of Leithian revised version, HME Vol 3 page 334] 

Through moor and marsh, by tree and briar he wandered under leaves alone and sorrowing. 

     Shadows of trees standing by the shore of a stagnant lake are thrown through the mists             

BEREN   I hear rumour of the strength of Morgoth, and my food is nigh spent.  Gorlim in the woods is long astray or dead. [adapted from The Lay of Leithian revised version, HME Vol 3 page 340] 

I wandered long in shadows deep where dwell the dead; already hill and dale are shaken.  The hunt is up, the prey is wild! and Orcs and phantoms prowl and peer from tree to tree, and every shade and hollow is filled with terror.  The road is long.  [adapted from The Lay of Leithian, HME Vol 3 page 268] 

   He falls unconscious by the border of the lake

UNSEEN VOICES       He slipped then down into darkness until, as a man drowning strives upward gasping, it seemed to him that he rose through slime beside the brim of the sullen pool beneath dead trees.  Their livid boughs in a cold breeze trembled, and all their black leaves stirred: each one letting fall a gout of blood into the winding weeds.   And it seemed that he saw a shadow faint and grey gliding over the dreary lake.  [adapted from The Lay of Leithian revised version, HME Vol 3 pages 340-41]                                  

A red glow glimmers in the distance; and in the ghastly illumination a wraith-like form drifts slowly across the surface of the lake                             


Gorlim I was, but now a wraith

of will defeated, broken faith,

traitor betrayed.  Go!  Stay not here! 

Awaken, son of Barahir,           

and haste! for Morgoth’s fingers close

upon your throat; he knows                     

your trysts, your paths, your secret lair.  [from The Lay of Leithian revised version, HME Vol 3 page 341] 

The fires suddenly go out, and the wraith vanishes.  A cold daylight fills the stage, in which the dead trees hang desolately in the mists by the lake shore.  Beren rises     


Thy death I will avenge, even though my fate

should lead at last to Angband’s gate!  [adapted from The Lay of Leithian revised version, HME Vol 3 page 341] 

No more shall hidden bowstring sing,     

no more shall shaven arrows wing!

No more my hunted head shall lie          

upon the heath beneath the angry sky.  [adapted from The Lay of Leithian revised version, HME Vol 3 page 345] 

UNSEEN VOICES                                                            

In winter’s night the houseless North      

he left behind, and stealing forth             

the leaguer of his watchful foe

he passed; a shadow on the snow,          

a swirl of wind, and he was gone.  [adapted from The Lay of Leithian revised version, HME Vol 3 page 341] 


Interlude and Scene Three              

The mists have once again covered the scene in darkness

Southward he turned, and south away through valleys woven with deceit and washed with waters bitter-sweet dark forces lurked in gulf and glen, where horror and madness walked;    [adapted from The Lay of Leithian revised version, HME Vol 3 page 341] 

and spiders spun their unseen webs in which all living creatures were ensnared, and monsters wandered there that were born in the long dark before the coming of the Sun, hunting silently with many eyes.   [adapted from the Quenta Silmarillion, S page 164]

    Slowly moonlight, clean and wholesome, begins to filter from above.  A woodland glade, heavy with the scent of

    spring, is slowly disclosed.  Hemlocks lie across the edge of the glade, and swift waters run through it    

UNSEEN VOICES                                            

The leaves were long, the grass was green,

the hemlock-umbrels tall and fair,          

and in the glade a light was seen             

of stars in shadow glimmering.

A movement through the trees is suddenly seen as Lúthien runs into the moonlight.  She pauses for a moment, listening; and the voice of pipes like the sound of distant nightingales fills the air as she begins to dance                                              

Tinúviel was dancing there       

to music of a pipe unseen

and light of stars was in her hair              

and in her raiment shimmering.    [adapted from The Fellowship of the Ring, LR Vol 1 page 204]           


Ir Ithil ammon Eruchín                  The Father raised the moon

menel-vîr síla díriel                        and the white-shining infinite heavens

si loth a galadh lasto dîn!            and the blossoms here beneath the leaves of the  trees!

A Hir Annun gilthoniel,              O Queen of the West who kindled the stars,

le linnon im Tinúviel!                   I sing to you here like a nightingale!   [from The Lay of Leithian revised version, HME Vol 3 page 354] 

Another movement is seen through the trees, this time towards the front.   Beren, weary and hardly able to stagger along, blunders into the edge of the glade and stops suddenly as if enchanted                     

UNSEEN VOICES                            

Enchantment healed his weary feet   

that over hills were doomed to roam;

and forth he hastened, strong and fleet,            

and grasped at moonbeams glistening.              

Beren starts towards the dancing elf-maiden in the glade, but she with sudden movement eludes him and vanishes into the trees                                 

Through woven woods in Elvenhome                

and left him lonely still to roam           

she fled on lightly dancing feet,           

in the silent forest listening.    [adapted from The Fellowship of the Ring, LR Vol 1 page 204]  


Slowly the sundering flood rolls past!                 

To this my long way comes at last:    

a hunger and a loneliness,     

enchanted waters pitiless.   [from The Lay of Leithian, HME Vol 3 page 177]  

The trees begin to move; and in their movement Lúthien is then and again glimpsed, sometimes near and  sometimes far, but ever dancing            

UNSEEN VOICES                                            

He heard there oft the flying sound    

of feet as light as linden-leaves,           

or water welling underground

in hidden hollows quivering.

Her mantle glistened in the moon,      

as on a hill-top high and far

she danced, and at her feet were strewn            

the mists of silver wavering.  [adapted from The Fellowship of the Ring, LR Vol 1 page 204]  


Come, dance now Beren, dance with me!

the wild and headlong maze

they dance who dwell beyond the ways            

that lead to the lands of men;              

teach the feet of Lúthien!     [from an early draft for The Lay of Leithian, HME Vol 3 page 326] 

Beren starts after her into the forest, and the glade remains empty.  As if lifted from the enchantment of spring, a sudden winter descends on the scene

UNSEEN VOICES                                            

Now withered lay the hemlock-sheaves,            

and one by one with sighing sound     

whispering fell the beechen leaves      

in the wintry woodland shivering.        

Beren once more emerges into the glade, but the winter landscape remains    

He sought her ever, wandering far      

where leaves of years were thickly strewn,        

by light of moon and ray of star         

in frosty heavens quivering.  [adapted from The Fellowship of the Ring, LR Vol 1 page 204]  


Where art thou gone? the day is bare,                

the sunlight dark, and cold the air!      

Tinúviel, where went thy feet? 

O wayward star!  O maiden sweet! 

O flower of Elvendom, too fair            

for mortal heart!  The woods are bare!              

Ere spring were born, the spring hath died!   [from The Lay of Leithian, HME Vol 3 page 183]         

Lúthien suddenly emerges into the glade, and halts half in amazement and half in desire, looking intently   at Beren; then, suddenly, she turns to run once more into the trees         

UNSEEN VOICES            

Again she fled, but swift he came.


Tinúviel!  Tinúviel!

UNSEEN VOICES            

He called her by her Elvish name,

and there she halted listening.

Lúthien remains as though transfixed as Beren moves Slowly towards her       

One moment stood she, and a spell                

his voice laid on her; Beren came,

and doom fell on Tinúviel                

that in his arms lay glistening.          

The spring sights, sounds  and scents once more fill the forest                            

As Beren looked into her eyes          

within the shadows of her hair,        

the trembling starlight of the skies   

he saw there mirrored shimmering. 

Tinúviel the elven-fair                       

immortal maiden elven-wise            

about him cast her shadowy hair    

and arms like silver glimmering.   [adapted from The Fellowship of the Ring, LR Vol 1 page 205]     

Darkness enshrouds them as they fall into a long embrace.  The Curtain falls very slowly


SECOND TRIPTYCH                                                                                                                


Prelude and Scene Four                                  

The moonlit glade, as before.  Thingol is enthroned on high to the right of the stage with Melian at his side.  Before him   stand Beren and Lúthien, hand in hand           

THINGOL    Who are you that come hither as a thief, and unbidden dare to approach my throne?                              

LÚTHIEN    He is Beren son  of  Barahir,  lord of men, mighty foe of Morgoth, the tale of whose deeds is become a song even among the elves.

THINGOL    Let Beren speak!   What would you here, unhappy mortal, and for what cause have you left your own land to enter this, which is forbidden to such as you?   Can you show reason why my power should not be laid on you in heavy punishment for your insolence and folly?

BEREN     My fate, O King, led me hither, through perils such as few even of the elves would dare.  And here I have found what I sought not indeed, but finding would possess for ever.  Neither rock, nor steel, nor the fires of Morgoth, nor all the powers of the elf-kingdoms, shall keep me from the treasure I desire.  For Lúthien you daughter is above gold and silver and beyond all jewels.                                             

There is a stunned silence; the courtiers surrounding Thingol make a convulsive movement, and then remain still                                                           

THINGOL [in a cold tone]   Death you have earned with these words; and death you should find suddenly, had I not sworn an oath in haste; of which I repent, baseborn mortal, who in the realm of Morgoth has learnt to creep in secret as his spies and thralls.    

BEREN    Death you can give me earned or unearned; but the name I will not take from you of baseborn, nor spy, nor thrall.  By the ring of Finrod Felagund that he gave to me on the battlefield of the North, my house has not earned such names from any Elf, be he king or no.

He takes the ring of Finrod from his hand and holds it up before the court.  Melian leans in haste over to Thingol                                                           

MELIAN   Forego your wrath; for not by you shall Beren be slain.  Far and free does his fate lead him in the end, yet it is wound with yours.  Take heed!

THINGOL [looking at Lúthien, to himself]  Unhappy men, children of little lords and brief kings, shall such as these lay hands on you and yet live?  [to Beren]   I see the ring, son of Barahir, and I perceive that you are proud and deem yourself mighty.  But deeds alone avail not to win the daughter of Thingol and Melian.  See now! I too desire a treasure that is withheld.  For rock and steel and the fires of Morgoth keep the jewel that I would possess against the powers of all the elf-kingdoms.  Yet I hear you say that bonds such as these do not daunt you.  Go your way therefore! bring to me in your hand a Silmaril from Morgoth’s crown; and then, if she will, Lúthien may set her hand in yours.  Then you shall have my jewel; and though the fate of the earth lie within the Silmarils, yet you shall hold me generous.                             

BEREN [laughing] For little price do Elvenkings sell their daughters; for gems, and things made by craft.  But if this be your will, I shall perform it.  And when we meet again my hand shall hold a Silmaril from the Iron Crown; for you have not looked the last on Beren son of Barahir.

He turns and leaves through the forest, while Lúthien looks in fear after him.  Then the other elves lead her away in the opposite direction, and Thingol and Melian descend from their thrones into the centre of the glade         

MELIAN   O king, you have designed cunning counsel.  But if my eyes have not lost their sight, it is ill for you whether Beren fail in his errand or achieve it.  For you have doomed either your daughter, or yourself.

THINGOL    I sell not to elves or men those whom I love and cherish above all treasure.   And if there were hope or fear that Beren should come ever back alive to Doriath, he should not have looked again upon the light of heaven, though I had sworn it.   [from the Quenta Silmarillion, S pages 166-67]                

A brooding silence falls upon the woods.  The darkness which has already covered the upper part of the stage at the back now extends itself over the whole scene


Interlude and Scene Five                                 

In the upper stage Finrod is seen seated upon his throne in Nargothrond; before him as a suppliant stands Beren, the ring of Finrod held up before him

BEREN   My lord, I have a need of friends, as one who treads a long dark journey and fears the road, yet dares not turn and look back on the lights he has left.  There is naught but night before me, and I doubt to find the light I seek far beyond the hills.   [adapted from The Lay of Leithian, HME Vol 3 page 200]                  

FINROD   It is plain that Thingol desires your death; for not all the power of the elves has ever availed even to see from afar the shining Silmarils of Fëanor.  For they are set in the Iron Crown, and treasured in Angband above all wealth; and spirits of flame are about them, and countless swords, and strong bars, and unassailable walls, and the dark majesty of Morgoth.  And they are cursed with an oath of hatred, and he that even names them in desire moves a great power from slumber.  Yet my oath also holds; and thus we are all ensnared.     [adapted from the Quenta Silmarillion, S pages 169]                 

The sons of Fëanor now become visible, standing in revolt before the throne of the King

UNSEEN VOICES            

Be he friend or foe or foul offspring                   

of Morgoth Bauglir, be he mortal dark

that in after days on earth shall dwell,

shall no law nor love nor league of powers        

nor might nor mercy nor moveless fate,

defend him forever from the fierce vengeance 

of the sons of Fëanor.  Whoso seize or steal     

or finding keep the fair enchanted      

globes of crystal whose glory dies not,

the Silmarils, is cursed forever!    [adapted from The Flight of the Noldoli, HME Vol 3 page 135]                         

Finrod stands and, taking his crown from his head, casts it down before his feet           

FINROD    Your oaths of faith to me you may break, but I must hold my bond.  Yet, if there be any on whom the shadow of our curse has not yet fallen, I should find at least a few to follow me, and should not go hence as a beggar that is thrust from the gates.

But the people of Nargothrond turn from him and depart; Beren alone remains, and turning he raises Finrod’s crown from the ground

BEREN    O King, to leave this realm is now our fate, but not to lose your rightful lordship.  For you remain my king, and theirs, whatever may betide.   [adapted from the Quenta Silmarillion, S pages 169]         

Finrod turns and places his crown above the vacant throne.   The upper stage once more is shrouded in darkness


Interlude and Scene Six                                   

Fires begin to blaze at the back of the scene and evil shapes  appear to move through the darkness.  A sudden blaze like a searchlight freezes and catches Beren and Finrod in the centre of the stage; they pull their cloaks about them to hide their identities, but the shadow of Sauron appears lowering above them.  Both cower                            

SAURON  Where have you been, and what have you seen?                    

FINROD  We have seen tears and distress, burning fires and flowing blood; the ravens sit and the owl cries where we have been.                                          

SAURON   Tell me then, what befalls in Elvenesse?  Who reigns now in Nargothrond, if you dared enter that realm?                                                

FINROD   Only its borders, where King Finrod Felagund rules.                 

SAURON   Then heard you not that Felagund is gone?

FINROD   Then Orodreth sits upon his throne.            

SAURON   Sharp and swift are your ears, to get tidings of realms you did not enter!  And what of that domain where robber Thingol and his outlaw folk cringe and crawl beneath the forests of drear Doriath?  Have you heard nothing of the fair Lúthien?  Morgoth would possess that fair white body.  But your captain looks fierce, his frown is grim!  Why is he troubled to think of his master crushing Lúthien in his hoard, that what once was clean should be foul, and  that what once was light should be darkened?                                       

BEREN    Who is Sauron, to hinder our work?  We serve you not, nor owe you obeisance; and we now would go.                                                      

SAURON   Patience! you need not abide very long; but first you shall hear me.   [adapted from The Lay of Leithian, HME Vol 3 pages 228-30] 

He advances towards the centre of the stage and unveils his cloak.  Finrod and Beren shrink back in dread

UNSEEN VOICES                                                            

                He chanted a song of wizardry,

of piercing, opening, of treachery,                   

revealing, uncovering, betraying.     

Finrod suddenly throws aside his disguise and advances to meet Sauron        

Then suddenly Felagund there swaying         

sang in answer a song of staying,    

resisting, battling against power,      

of secrets kept, strength like a tower,              

and trust unbroken, freedom, escape.            

Beren, turning in terror from the contest of Finrod and Sauron, creeps backwards into a dark pit which opens at the front of the stage

Backwards and forwards swayed their song.

Reeling and foundering, as ever more strong

Felagund fought. Then the gloom gathered;

a vast smoke rushed forth, the chanting swelled,

and Finrod fell before the throne.     [from The Lay of Leithian, HME Vol 3 pages 230-31] 

Mists have veiled the whole scene, including the form of Sauron. All that is dimly visible is the pit, with the shapes of Beren and Finrod huddled in despair

BEREN    It would be little loss if I were dead; and I am  minded  all  to tell,  and so perchance  to save your life.  I set you free from your old oath, for you have endured more for me than ever was deserved.

FINROD   O Beren, Beren! have you not learned that Sauron’s promises are frail as breath?  From this dark yoke of pain shall neither of us ever escape with Sauron’s consent, whether he learn our names or no.  And we should drink yet deeper of torment, if he knew he that the son of Barahir and Felagund were his captives; even worse, if he should know our dreadful errand.        

The voice of Sauron is suddenly heard from the blackness above                       

SAURON   True, true the word I heard you speak!  It would be little loss if he were dead, the outlaw mortal.  But the undying Elvenking could suffer much that no man might endure.  Perchance, ere all is done, I shall know your errand also.  The wolf is hungry, the hour is nigh; Beren need not wait for death.   [adapted from The Lay of Leithian, HME Vol 3 pages 248-49] 

A large grey wolf suddenly appears out of the darkness and advances on Beren.  Finrod with a mighty effort advances to meet it, and struggles with the monster.  With his bare hands he succeeds in breaking the wolf’s neck; but with a dying lunge the wolf buries its teeth in Finrod’s chest and he falls back into Beren’s arms dying                      

FINROD   Farewell, my friend and comrade!  I go now to my long rest in the timeless halls beyond the seas and the mountains.  It may be that we shall not meet a second time in death or life, for the fates of our kindreds are apart.  Farewell! [adapted from the Quenta Silmarillion, S pages 174] 

He dies.  Beren lowers his head over his body in grief; darkness covers the pit.  Sauron alone stands shrouded in gloom in the middle of the stage; then a distant voice is heard from above


In western lands beneath the Sun       

the flowers may rise in Spring,

the trees may bud, the waters run,      

the nightingales may sing.     

Or there maybe ’tis cloudless night                     

and swaying beeches bear                    

the Elven-stars as jewels bright                            

amid their branching hair.     

   Beren raises himself in defiance


Though here at journey’s end I lie      

in darkness buried deep,

beyond all towers strong and high,      

beyond all mountains steep,

beyond all shadows rides the Sun,                      

and stars forever dwell.                         

I will not say the day is done,                               

nor bid the stars farewell.     [adapted from The Return of the King, LR Vol 3 page 185]  

LÚTHIEN   [appears above, listening]  I hear a song far under welling, far but strong; a song that Beren bore aloft.  I hear his voice, as I have heard it often in dreams and wandering.     [adapted from The Lay of Leithian, HME Vol 3 page 251]         

SAURON    Ah, little Lúthien! what brought this foolish fly into my web?  Morgoth! my reward will be great when to thy hoard this jewel is added.  [adapted from The Lay of Leithian, HME Vol 3 page 251]                   

A sudden blaze of golden light descends from above; Lúthien is seen to stand with arms raised above the form of Sauron cowering on the ground       

LÚTHIEN   O dark phantom,  wrought of foulness, lies and guile!  Here shalt thou be stripped of thy raiment of flesh, and  thy ghost be sent quaking back to Morgoth; there everlastingly thy naked self shall endure the torment of his scorn, pierced by his eyes, unless thou yield to me the mastery of thy tower.  [adapted from The Lay of Leithian, HME Vol 3 page 251]  


May darkness everlasting old          

that waits outside in surges cold      

drown law, and light, and Moon and Sun!    

May all in hatred be begun,              

and all in evil ended be,     

in the moaning of the endless Sea!  [from The Lay of Leithian, HME Vol 3 page 230]  

He rises in a sudden burst of dark evil; then the light consumes the darkness, and he fades as an impotent shadow.  Lúthien comes forward and finds Beren crouched over the lifeless body of Finrod   


Ah, Beren, Beren,   

almost too late have I thee found?     

Alas! in tears that we should meet,                     

who once found meeting passing sweet!            


O Lúthien, O Lúthien,            

more fair than any child of men!        

O loveliest child of Elvenesse,              

what might of love did thee possess   

to bring thee here to terror’s lair?                         

O lissom limbs and shadowy hair,                       

O flower-entwined brows so bright,                     

O slender hands in this new light!   [from The Lay of Leithian, HME Vol 3 page 255]       

He embraces her, and then turns with equal fierceness away from her                              

Thrice now I curse my oath to Thingol, and I would that he had slain me in Doriath, rather than that I should bring you under the shadow of Morgoth.

LÚTHIEN   From the shadow of death you can no longer save me, for by my love I now am subject to it.  You can turn from your fate and lead me into exile, seeking peace in vain while life lasts.  But if you will not deny your doom, then either I forsaken must surely die alone, or I must with you challenge the fate that lies before you: hopeless, yet not certain.  [adapted from the Quenta Silmarillion, S pages 177]              

She moves towards him as if to embrace him, but he moves away from her violently.  When she would embrace him again, he points with a grim gesture to the mangled body of Finrod lying at the front of the stage.  She recoils.  Fast Curtain                                                  


THIRD TRIPTYCH                                                                                                               

Prelude and Scene Seven                                 

The halls of Morgoth in Angband.  Vast heights and pits suggested on all sides.  Asleep on the upper level of the stage before the Gate lies the great wolf Carcharoth    

UNSEEN VOICES                                                            

A sable hill, gigantic, rampart-crowned                

under a gleaming sky, on whose dark ground     

stand stony chiselled pillars of the vault              

with shaft and capital of black basalt.

There slow forgotten days for ever reap            

the silent shadows, counting out rich hours,      

and no voice stirs; and all the fretted towers     

black, hot and soundless, ever burn and sleep.    [adapted from In a City lost and dead, HME Vol 1 page 136]              

Beren and Lúthien appear at the back above, and start back in horror when they see the wolf   

BEREN    What grievous terror and dread guard has Morgoth set to wait, to bar his doors against all entering feet?  Long ways we have come at last to the very maw of death that opens between us and our quest!  Yet hope we never had.  No turning back! [adapted from The Lay of Leithian, HME Vol 3 page 289]                         

He advances boldly to meet the wolf and rouses it from sleep                              

Who is this hungry upstart whelp that bars my way?  Aside! for I must in; or go, and swiftly tell my coming!  ! [adapted from The Lay of Leithian, HME Vol 3 page 290] 

The wolf bares its teeth and makes to attack him, but Lúthien coming swiftly forward bars its way with upraised hand                                   

LÚTHIEN   O woe-begotten spirit, fall now into dark oblivion, and forget for a while the dreadful doom of life.   [adapted from the Quenta Silmarillion, S pages 180]                                                                    

Carcharoth falls unconscious at her feet; Beren and Lúthien turn to each other in rejoicing when a voice rises from below

MORGOTH    Shadow, descend! and do not think to cheat mine eyes!  In vain seek to hide from thy Lord’s gaze.  None may defy my will; there is no hope nor escape for those that unbidden pass my Gate.  [adapted from The Lay of Leithian, HME Vol 3 page 296]

Beren and Lúthien proudly descend to the lower stage.  Here at last is the Throne of Darkness, with Morgoth seated upon it.  He appears as a great shape of shadow, crowned with iron and wearing the three Silmarils set within the carcanet.  Beren sinks in horror to the ground, but Lúthien advances proudly, wrapping her cloak about her as a shadow

LÚTHIEN   A lawful errand brought me here from Sauron’s mansions to stand before thy mighty chair.    

MORGOTH     Thy name, thou shrieking waif, thy name! thou foolish, frail, bat-shapen thing, and yet not bat within!  Sauron sent word but short while since.  Why now send such messenger as thou?

LÚTHIEN   Thúringwethil I am, who cast a shadow over the ghastly face of the sallow moon in the doomed realm of shivering Beleriand.               

MORGOTH    Liar art thou, who seeks to weave deceit before mine eyes!  Now leave thy false form and raiment! stand revealed, and delivered to my hand!  [adapted from The Lay of Leithian, HME Vol 3 page 297]

Lúthien casts her cloak aside and stands revealed before him

So, Lúthien! like all Elves and Men a liar!  Yet welcome to my halls!  I have a use for every servant.  What news of Thingol, lurking shyly like a timid vole in his refuge?  What folly fresh is in his mind, that he cannot keep his offspring from straying thus?  or can design no better counsel for his spies?

LÚTHIEN   The road hither was wild and long, but Thingol sent me not; nor does he know where his rebellious daughter has gone.  Yet every road and path will lead at last to the North; and here of  need I trembling come with humble brow to bow before thy throne.       

MORGOTH      And here of need thou shalt remain now,  Lúthien,  in  joy or pain:     which is the fitting doom for all rebels, thieves and upstart slaves.  Why should ye not share in our fate, of woe and travail?  Or should I spare torment to slender limbs and frail bodies?  Of what use here is thy babbling song and foolish laughter?  Minstrels strong are at my call.  Yet I will give a brief respite brief, a little while to live, to the fair Lúthien, though dearly purchased.   In slothful gardens many a flower like thee the amorous Powers are used honey-sweet to kiss, and cast then aside underfoot, losing their bruised fragrance.  But here we seldom find such sweetness amid our long and hard labours; and who would not taste with their lips the honey, or crush with their feet the soft cool tissue of pale flowers, to ease the slow dragging of time?   

LÚTHIEN   Lord! every minstrel hath his tune, and some are strong and some are soft; but Lúthien hath cunning arts for solace sweet of kings.  [adapted from The Lay of Leithian, HME Vol 3 page 298-300]

   She begins to dance                                        

UNSEEN VOICES        And all the fires faded and were quenched.  But the Silmarils on Morgoth’s head blazed forth suddenly with a radiance of white flame; and the burden of that crown and of the jewels bowed down his head, as though the world were set upon it laden with a weight of care and of desire.  Then Lúthien catching up her robe sprang into the air, and her voice came dripping down like rain into pools profound and dark.  She cast her cloak before his eyes, and set upon him a dream dark as the Outer Void where once he walked alone.  Suddenly he fell, as a hill sliding in avalanche, and hurled like thunder from his throne lay prone upon the floors.  The iron crown rolled echoing from his head.  All things were still. [adapted from the Quenta Silmarillion, S pages 181] 

Morgoth lies motionless upon the floor, his crown almost at Lúthien’s feet.  She looks briskly around and sees Beren, cast in a sleep upon the floor.  She runs rapidly to him and rouses him       


Come forth, come forth! the hours have knelled,

and Angband’s mighty lord is felled!

Awake, awake! for we two meet             

alone before the aweful seat.  [from The Lay of Leithian, HME Vol 3 page 302]                 

Beren raises himself slowly and painfully from the ground; then, reaching for his knife, he cuts a Silmaril from the Crown.   There is a sudden crack of thunder; Morgoth stirs, and Beren  and Lúthien flee.  But the wolf Carcharoth has roused and now bars their way.  Lúthien, spent and faint, draws back; but Beren, holding the Silmaril high in his hand, advances to meet the wolf

BEREN     Get you gone, and fly! for here is a fire that shall consume you, and all evil things.   [adapted from the Quenta Silmarillion, S pages 182]        

He thrusts the Silmaril into the mouth of the wolf.  There is a great howling, and the wolf bites off Beren’s hand before it curls back as the jewel sears its flesh.  Turning madly, it flees before them; Lúthien throws her cloak about the reeling Beren and hurries him away.  Fires and earthquakes rise from below, and then darkness covers the scene    


Interlude and Scene Eight                               

Slowly the light begins to return.  The scene has returned  as  if  in a dream  to  the  forest  glade as    in Scene Three.  It is dawn and it is spring again.  Beren lies dying upon the grass; Lúthien is seated beside him       


Farewell now here, ye leaves of trees,     

you music in the morning breeze!           

Farewell now, blade and bloom and grass             

that see the changing seasons pass;        

ye waters murmuring over stone,            

and meres that silent stand alone!          

Farewell now, mountain, vale and plain!               

Farewell now, wind and frost and rain

and mists and cloud, and heaven’s air,

ye star and moon so blinding-fair,          

that still shall look down from the sky

on the wide earth, though Beren die;      

though Beren die not, and yet deep        

deep, whence comes from those that weep

no dreadful echo, lie and choke              

in everlasting dark and smoke.                

Farewell, sweet earth and northern sky,

for ever blessed, since here did lie            

and here with lissom limbs did run          

beneath the moon, beneath the sun,      

Lúthien Tinúviel                         

more fair than mortal tongue can tell.


O proud and fearless hand and heart,    

not yet farewell; not yet we part! 

Not thus do those of elven race               

forsake the love that they embrace. 

A love is mine, as great a power              

as thine, to shake the gate and tower

of death with challenge weak and frail  

that yet endures, and will not fail            

nor yield, unvanquished were it hurled

beneath the foundations of the world.   

Beloved fool! escape to seek   

from such pursuit; in might so weak

to trust not, thinking it well to save         

from love thy loved, who welcomes grave

and torment sooner than in guard           

of kind intent to languish, barred,           

wingless and helpless him to aid,             

for whose support her love was made!   

   They embrace passionately                                           

BEREN and LÚTHIEN                                   

Though all to ruin fell the world               

and were dissolved and backward hurled

unmade into the old abyss,

yet were its making good, for this:

the dusk, the dawn, the earth, the sea,

that love for a time might be.    [from The Lay of Leithian, HME Vol 3 pages 276-77] 

Another long embrace.  Full daylight.  Thingol and Melian enter with their court; Beren looks up at them with pain in his eyes

BEREN    I return according to my word.  I come now to claim my own.                              

THINGOL   What of your quest, and of your vow?  

BEREN    It is fulfilled.  Even now a Silmaril is in my hand.                     

THINGOL   Show it to me!

Beren holds up his severed wrist.  Thingol looks at him a long time in silence 

BEREN    Now is the quest achieved, and my doom full-wrought.  [adapted from the Quenta Silmarillion, S pages 184-85]                          

He dies; Lúthien bends down over his body and kisses his lips.  A winter falls, and the light fades


Interlude and Scene Nine                                

A cold unearthly light filters slowly from above; the scene is out of place, out of time.  The Guardians are seen, or glimpsed, seated in a semicircle about the centre of the scene    

UNSEEN VOICES   And Lúthien came to the Halls of Mandos, beyond the mansions of the west upon the confines of the world, where those that wait sit in the shadow of their thought.  But her beauty was greater than their beauty, and her sorrow was greater than their sorrows; and she knelt before Mandos and sang to him.   [adapted from the Quenta Silmarillion, S page 186]  

Lúthien stands as if transfigured in the centre of the semicircle; Beren is at her feet     


Long are the paths, of shadows made,

where no footprint is ever made,             

across the hills, across the seas!               

Far, far away are the Lands of Ease,

but the land of the lost is further yet,

where the dead wait, while ye forget. 

No moon is there, no voice, no sound

of beating heart; a sigh profound            

alone is heard.  Far, far it lies,

the Land of Waiting, where the Dead sit                

in their thought’s shadow, by no moon lit.   [from a sketch for The Lay of Leithian, HME Vol 3 pages 308-9]

Mandos, a shrouded figure at the centre of the semicircle,  raises his hand.  Lúthien dies upon the body of Beren—or, indeed, it may be that Beren rejoins Lúthien in life



   The light slowly fades.   There is no movement         

UNSEEN VOICES            

Long was the way that fate them bore,

o’er stony mountains cold and grey       

through halls of iron and darkling door

and woods of nightshade morrowless. 

The Sundering Seas between them lay,

and yet at last they met once more,       

and long ago they passed away              

in the forest, singing, sorrowless.    [adapted from The Fellowship of the Ring, LR Vol 1 page 205]                           

   The Curtain falls very slowly