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This score formed part of a massive cycle which I planned in the 1970s with texts from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.  The score was substantially completed in short score in the summer of 1976 but was then abandoned.  In preparing the final version in 1998 I completed the episode in accordance with the original plans and sketches, and the orchestration was completed as far as possible from those sketches, with only minor amendments to the original short score for reasons of practicability.
The episode of Tom Bombadil relies to a large extent on its context as part of the incomplete cycle based on The Lord of the Rings. But, as has been pointed out by many commentators, the episode is also detachable from the body of the narrative (and has indeed been cut from adaptations of the book, including Peter Jackson’s film, without violence to the whole),  For these reasons this torso of a work that is unlikely ever to be completed in accordance with the original design has possibly some value in its own right.

The Curtain rises to show a pattern of shifting trees. The four hobbits are seen making their way through the Old

Forest. It seems that they try to make their way through towards the back; but always the trees force them on across

the scene. Towards the end of the prelude the lights behind the inner curtain rise, and the scene at the front fades

and vanishes


Scene One

The scene disclosed is a river bank concealed by mists and reeds. The main part of the stage is a wide bank above

the river, with a great willow tree extended over the sward. From behind this great tree the four hobbits come

forward, with Merry leading and obviously relieved

MERRY   Well, now at least I have some idea of where we are! This is the River Withywindle.

PIPPIN   But we can’t go another step without rest.

SAM   It’s cool under the willow. Less flies!

FRODO   Come on! We can’t have a nap yet. We must get clear of the forest first.

MERRY   Must have a nap…

He, Pippin and Sam lie down beneath the great tree, with their backs to cracks running up its trunk. Frodo looks at

them for a moment, and then sleep suddenly seems to overwhelm him. He staggers, and in that moment the tree

suddenly moves towards him with menace. At the same time the cracks in its trunk close around the three sleepers,

and Frodo suddenly screams

FRODO   Help! help! help!

Again he staggers, as sleep seems to overwhelm him. At that moment there comes a voice singing from along the


TOM BOMBADIL [very distant]

Hey dol, merry dol, ring a ding dillo!

Ring a dong, hop along, fall al the willow!

Tom Bom, jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

All the forest suddenly becomes still, as if under a spell of silence. The voice slowly draws nearer; Frodo stirs and starts as if awakening from a dream

Hey come merry dol, derry dol, my darling!

Light goes the weather wind and the feathered starling.

Down along under hill, shining in the sunlight,

there my pretty lady is, River-woman’s daughter,

slender as the willow wand, clearer than the water.

Old Tom Bombadil water-lilies bringing

comes hopping home again. Can you hear him singing?

Hey come merry dol, derry dol and merry oh,

Goldberry, Goldberry, merry yellow berry oh!

Poor old Willow Man, you tuck your roots away!

Tom’s in a hurry now. Evening will follow day.

Tom’s going home again water-lilies bringing.

Hey! come derry dol! Can you hear me singing?

He comes onto the stage, dancing and singing to himself as he does so. Frodo rushes towards him

FRODO   Help!

TOM BOMBADIL   Whoa, whoa! steady there! Now, my little fellow, where be you a-going to, puffing like a bellows? What’s the matter here then? Do you know who I am? I’m Tom Bombadil. Tell we what’s your trouble! Tom’s in a hurry now. Don’t you crush my lilies!

FRODO   My friends are caught in the willow tree!

TOM BOMBADIL   What? Old Man Willow? Naught worse than that, eh? That can soon be mended. I know the tune for him. Old grey Willow Man! I’ll freeze his marrow cold, if he doesn’t behave himself. I’ll sing his roots off. I’ll sing a wind up and blow branch and leaf away.

He strides up to the tree, and breaking off a hanging branch lashes the trunk of the tree with it

You let them out again, Old Man Willow! What be you a-thinkin’ of? You should not be waking. Eat earth! Dig deep! Drink water! Go to sleep, Old Man Willow! Bombadil is talking! 

   There is a sudden crack and the trunk splits open, releasing the imprisoned hobbits. A shudder runs through the

   willow from root to tip, and a complete silence falls

Well, my little fellows! You shall come home with me. The table is all laden with white bread and butter. Goldberry is waiting. Time enough for questions around the supper table. You follow after me as fast as you are able!

With a sudden leap and bound he rushes dancing away along the path. The hobbits look at each other with blank  

amazement. His voice is heard, already far in the distance

Hop along, my little friends, up with Withywindle!

Tom’s going on ahead candles for to kindle.

Down west sinks the sun; soon you will be groping.

When the night shadows fall, then the door will open,

out of the window panes light will twinkle yellow.

Fear no alder black! Heed no hoary willow!

Fear neither root nor bough! Tom goes on before you.

Hey now! merry dol! we’ll be waiting for you!

The light fades quickly, and the inner curtain falls. Before this the scene appears with the trees moving as in the

prelude; but now the movement becomes a dance of great shadows. The four hobbits hurry along, at the front of the

stage, while the scene moves past them. Then there appears a light through the inner curtain, and the voice of Tom

Bombadil is heard

Hey come derry dol, hop along my hearties!

Come on then, hobbits all! we are fond of parties.

Now let the song begin! Let us sing together!


Now let the song begin! Let us sing together

of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather,

light on the budding leaf, dew on the feather,

wind on the open hill, bells on the heather,

reeds by the shady pool, lilies on the water;

old Tom Bombadil and the River-daughter!

   The lights rise as the inner curtain dissolves


Scene Two

A woodland glade is disclosed, lit by lamps hanging from high branches. In this glade stand Tom Bombadil and

Goldberry. Frodo and the hobbits come forward into the light, and Frodo halts in amazement


O slender as a willow-wand! O clearer than clear water!

O reed by the living pool, fair River-daughter!

O springtime and summertime, and spring again after!

O wind on the waterfall, and the leaves’ laughter!

GOLBDERRY   Have peace now until the morning! Heed no nightly noises! For nothing passes door and window here save moonlight and starlight and the wind off the hill-top.

The light again grows dim, and the hobbits lie down to sleep. Tom Bombadil remains watching over them for a

while in silence; then, as the light fades, he speaks to them

TOM BOMBADIL   The sun will rise tomorrow; ’twill be a glad morning.  But  keep well to the green    grass. Don’t you go a-meddling with old stone or cold Wights or prying in their houses, unless you be strong folk with hearts that never falter! And if you fall in difficulty, sing and call to me:

Ho! Tom Bombadil, Tom Bombadillo!

by water, wood and hill, by reed and willow,

by fire, sun and moon, hearken now and hear us!

Come, Tom Bombadil, for our need is near us!

He fades into the darkness; all that can be seen are the forms of the slumbering hobbits. Slowly there appears a

distant vision above their forms. The moon appears to rise; and in its light there appears a tall pinnacle of rock,

with a man seated upon its highest point. Suddenly a shadow like the shape of great wings passes over the scene.

There is a noise like a strong wind blowing, and a sound of distant hoofbeats. The vision fades and darkness covers

the scene. In the darkness the inner curtain falls

TOM BOMBADIL [behind the scene]

Ring a ding dillo! Wake now, my merry friends!

Ring a ding dillo, derry dol, my hearties!

Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow;

bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow!

GOLDBERRY [behind the scene] Speed now, fair guests! and hold to your purpose! North with the wind to the left eye, and a blessing on your footsteps! Make haste while the Sun shines! It was a merry meeting!

Her voice fades into the darkness and slowly becomes inaudible. At the same time the inner curtain rises


Scene Three

The scene is completely filled with mist. The four hobbits are seen groping their way forward through the fogs. But

Frodo, who is leading, pushes on too quickly, and the others suddenly vanish into the vapour. Frodo walks on a few

paces further, and then suddenly stops

FRODO   Sam! Pippin! Merry! Come along! Why don’t you keep up?

   There is no answer. He rushes back and calls again

Where are you?

Again there is no answer. He comes back towards the centre. At the same time the mists begin to lift, and a tall

standing stone appears, looming high over him

Where are you?

The BARROW-WIGHT [its voice seeming to come from the stone] Here!...I am waiting for you!

FRODO [crying out] No!...

Sudden total darkness descends across the scene; the lights in the orchestra go out. The inner curtain falls again


Scene Four

Before the inner curtain the light grows: a pale greenish sort of light. A long tomb-like chamber extends across the

stage. In this tomb there are four biers, and on each of these lie the four hobbits: Frodo to the left, and Sam, Merry

and Pippin to the right. All lie on their backs, and their faces are pale, and they are clad in white. On their heads

are circlets, and there are swords at their sides. But across their three necks lies one naked sword.  Frodo stirs

restlessly and draws one hand across his eyes. At the same time a voice is heard from below the ground


                Cold be heart and hand and bone,

                and cold be sleep under stone:

                never more to wake on stony bed,

                never, till the Sun falls and the Moon is dead.

                In the black wind the stars shall die,

                and still on stone here let them lie,

                till the Dark Lord lifts his hand

                over dead sea and withered land.

Frodo raises his head and looks behind him. A long arms gropes across the stage, walking on its fingers towards

Sam, who lies nearest, and towards the hilt of the sword which lies across the necks of the three hobbits. Frodo

suddenly starts up, seizing a sword that lies by him, and strikes off the hand near the wrist. The hand breaks off,

there is a shriek, and the light vanishes. In the dark there comes a snarling noise

FRODO [with great voice and enthusiasm]

Ho! Tom Bombadil, Tom Bombadillo!

by water, wood and hill, by reed and willow,

by fire, sun and moon, hearken now and hear us!

Come, Tom Bombadil, for our need is near us!

There is a moment’s silence; and then a voice can be heard in the distance, drawing rapidly nearer


Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow;

bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow.

None has ever caught him yet, for Tom he is the master;

his songs are stronger songs, and his feet are faster.

There is a loud rumbling noise, as of stones rolling and falling; and suddenly a low door-like opening appears,

through which the bright sunlight streams into the tomb. In it is seen Tom Bombadil, silhouetted against the door.

He comes forward into the dark chamber, singing

Get you out, you old Wight! Vanish in the sunlight!

Shrivel like the cold mist, like the winds go wailing

out into the barren lands far beyond the mountains!

Come never here again! Leave your barrow empty!

Lost and forgotten be, darker than the darkness,

where gates stand for ever shut, till the world is mended.

At these words there comes a cry, and part of the chamber falls in with a crash. The cry dies away into a long trailing shriek, fading away into an unguessable distance. And then there is silence

Wake now, my merry lads! wake and hear me calling! 

Warm now be heart and limb! the cold stone is broken,

dark door is standing wide, dead hand is fallen,

Night under Night has flown, and the Gate is open!

Sam, Merry and Pippin stir slowly. Then they sit up and look in wonder at their surroundings, and then at


MERRY   What in the name of wonder?...Of course, I remember! The men of Carn Dûm came on us in the night, and we were worsted. Ah! the spear in my breast! No! no!...What am I saying? I have been dreaming. Where did you get to, Frodo?

FRODO   I thought that I was lost; but I don’t want to speak of it. Let us think of what we are to do now!

Tom reaches to lift up the swords which had lain by the hobbits

TOM BOMBADIL    Sharp blades are good to have, if hobbits go a-wandering east, south or far away, into dark and danger. Few now remember them, yet still some go wandering, the men of Westernesse who forged these blades, sons of forgotten kings walking in loneliness, guarding from evil folk that are heedless.

In the darkness there appears a vision: a vast plain over which there stride shapes of men, tall and grim with bright

swords. And last comes a man later to be known to them as the King Elessar: and he bears a star on his brow. The

hobbits look on uncomprehendingly, and the vision fades

Bombadil will give you clothes, and good advice, till this day is over. Four miles hence along the road you’ll come upon a village, Bree under Bree Hill, with doors looking westward. There you’ll find an old inn that is called The Prancing Pony; Barliman Butterbur is the worthy keeper. There you can stay the night, but afterwards the morning will speed you upon your way. Keep up your merry hearts, and go to meet your fortune!

FRODO   It may be all that we could wish, but remember, please—that the name of Baggins must not be mentioned. I am Mister Underhill, if any name must be given.


Hey now, come now! whither do you wander?

Up, down, near or far, here, there or yonder?

Tom’s country ends here; he will not pass the borders.

He has his house to mind, and Goldberry is waiting!

Frodo and the hobbits bid him farewell with silent bows. The inner curtain has grown lighter and now rises to

disclose the bright sunlight playing on the downs. As the hobbits pass down across the plain, Tom Bombadil stands

watching them, silhouetted as a black shadow against the light. The curtain falls

below: photograph by the composer