‘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.
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.
- Light of other days (electric solo guitar piece, original song)
- The Light of Other Days – Tino Izzo
- The Light of Other Days – Jeff Edwards
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A vocalist who performs in many genres, Nyssa has sung with Hans Zimmer, OneRepublic and for Screen Australia.
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.
‘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.