‘London Bridge’

House Music at Your House

The story of family music making at Rouse Hill Estate reflects generations of shared musical experience. While some of the favourite songs of grandparents may have sounded a little old-fashioned to the youngest members of the household, musical tastes across age groups were shared more widely than today.

Like his siblings, Edwin Stephen Rouse (born 1849) would have heard many of the tunes featured in the House Music at Your House program in his formative years and he continued this domestic music tradition into adulthood. Edwin is known to have been fond of holding public entertainments in the arcade at the rear of the house as well.

This copy of ‘London Bridge’ by Irish-born James Molloy was published in London in around 1879 and is later than most of the music we have been exploring in the house music program. Molloy appears to have been a favourite of Edwin with his bound collection of music containing five of the composer’s songs. Like their father, Kathleen and Nina Rouse also seem to have enjoyed Molloy’s music and had their own copies of his songs.

Publishing almost 100 songs, Molloy is best remembered for ‘The Kerry dance’ and ‘Love's old sweet song’. He balanced his compositional life with a busy professional career which included working as private secretary to the British attorney-general and, later, as private chamberlain to Pope Leo XIII. Perhaps not a typical career combination for popular music artists of our own time!

Watch the performance

In this performance Matthew Stephens and Katrina Faulds share their version of ‘London Bridge’. Take a listen and then have a go yourself! We have created the only available recording of this song, so we’ve added a couple of other tunes by the composer. 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

Listen to more examples:

There are no other recordings of ‘London Bridge’, so we have shared some other tunes composed by J.L. Molloy, including a recent Brazilian performance of ‘The Kerry Dance’ (which is also found at Rouse Hill Estate).


Roy Lanham - Kerry Dance

The Kerry Dance (J. L. Molloy)

The Kerry Dance - Atar Trio & Yeela Avital

Early Chordettes - Love's Old Sweet Song (c.1951).

Daoirí Farrell – Love’s Old Sweet Song.

Master Robert Harris (boy soprano) sings Love's Old Sweet Song

ANÚNA : Love's Old Sweet Song

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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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Meet the performers

Matthew Stephens

Dr Matthew Stephens is research librarian at the Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection.  He is particularly fascinated by early book, musical instrument and sheet music collections in NSW and the stories they tell.

More about Matt

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


‘London Bridge’

Proud and lowly, beggar and lord,

Over the bridge they go;

Rags and velvet, fetter and sword,

Poverty, pomp, and woe.


Laughing, weeping, hurrying ever,

Hour by hour they crowd along,

While, below, the mighty river

Sings them all a mocking song,


Hurry along, sorrow and song,

All is vanity 'neath the sun;

Velvet and rags, so the world wags,

Until the river no more shall run.


Dainty, painted, powdered and gay,

Rolleth my lady by;

Rags-and-tatters, over the way,

Carries a heart as high.


Flowers and dreams from country meadows,

Dust and din through city skies,

Old men creeping with their shadows,

Children with their sunny eyes,--


Hurry along, sorrow and song,

All is vanity 'neath the sun;

Velvet and rags, so the world wags,

Until the river no more shall run.


Storm and sunshine, peace and strife,

Over the bridge they go;

Floating on in the tide of life,

Whither no man shall know.


Who will miss them there tomorrow,

Waifs that drift to the shade or sun?

Gone away with their songs and sorrow;

Only the river still flows on.


Hurry along, sorrow and song,

All is vanity 'neath the sun;

Velvet and rags, so the world wags,

Until the river no more shall run.

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