‘The Light of Other Days’

House Music at Your House

What did these old songs actually sound like? It might seem obvious – just sing and play the notes printed on the page. The problem is that the way people perform music is very subtle, most of what they do is not written in the score and unwritten musical traditions change over time.

‘The Light of Other Days’ comes from the opera ‘The Maid of Artois’ and was composed by Michael William Balfe (1808-1870), with words by Alfred Bunn (1796-1860). The opera premiered in London in 1836 and performance highlights and sheet music copies were available in Sydney by the end of the decade. The copy of the song used for our version was found at Rouse Hill Estate in a bound collection of music called the Dowling Songbook. This volume originally belonged to a young couple who lived in Sydney and Bathurst and their collection is particularly important because the pencil markings they added to the score offer clues as to how they may have performed their songs in the 1830s. 

Performance students from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney, were asked to learn songs from the Dowling Songbook using the pencil markings made by the original owners of this music as inspiration. The journey of these students was documented in the film ‘Songs of Home’, provided below.

Watch the performance

Listen to Nyssa Milligan and Katrina Faulds perform ‘The Light of Other Days’ and then have a go yourself! We have also provided a link to the film ‘Songs of Home’ which features Nyssa and fellow performance students exploring ways of performing these types of 19th-century songs. We have created one of the only available recordings of this song so we’ve also provided some different compositions inspired by the title. Why not help us share more versions with the world.

You can find links to the music and lyrics below and perform and share your own interpretation.

Get the music

‘The Light of Other Days’

1. Score [flipbook version]

2. Score [download as zip file]

3. Lyrics

Listen to more examples:

None of these examples use the tune of our original song, but the title clearly has a strong contemplative resonance with contemporary music makers.


Share your musical or creative response

We invite you to share your response with us, and we’ll share the best responses across our website and social media. We want to highlight the ways in which music making at home is for everyone, by everyone – just as it has always been. The more ‘homely’ and amateur your recordings are, the better! 

Make your version in any style or format you like – perform it straight or turn it into blues, country, rap, hip-hop, slam poetry, K-pop, Bollywood or any other style; rearrange it for different instruments, voices or electronics; sing it, play it, dance it, write about it, photograph it or paint it. 

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Upload your video, or photo, picture, or written response of your response to your own Facebook or Instagram and tag us with @sydlivmus #SLMhousemusic
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Share via Youtube or Soundcloud

Upload your recording to your own Youtube or Soundcloud and share with us by completing the below form and provide links to the recording. 

Please note: if submission is by someone aged under 16  years, a parent or guardian must complete the below form.

Share your version

Meet the performers

Nyssa Milligan

A vocalist who performs in many genres, Nyssa has sung with Hans Zimmer, OneRepublic and for Screen Australia.

More about Nyssa

Katrina Faulds

Dr Katrina Faulds studied fortepiano with Geoffrey Lancaster (University of Western Australia) and Colleen Rae-Gerrard (Australian National University) before completing postgraduate studies with Stanley Hoogland at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam.

More about Katrina


‘The Light of Other Days’ 

The light of other days is faded,
And all their glories passed.
For grief with heavy wing had shaded
The hopes too bright to last;
The world which morning's mantle clouded,
Shines forth with purer rays!
But the heart ne'er feels, in sorrow shrouded,
The light of other days

The leaf which Autumn tempests wither,
The birds which then take wing,
When Winter winds are past, come hither
To welcome back the Spring;
The very ivy on the ruin.
In gloom-full life displays;
But the heart alone, sees no renewing,
The light of other days.

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