Love's Old Sweet Song

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"Love's Old Sweet Song"
Songwriter(s)G. Clifton Bingham
Composer(s)James Lynam Molloy

"Love's Old Sweet Song" is a Victorian parlour song published in 1884 by composer James Lynam Molloy and lyricist Graham Clifton Bingham. The first line of the chorus is "Just a song at twilight", and its title is sometimes misidentified as such. Bingham wrote the lyric of ‘Love’s Old Sweet Song’, after which various composers competed to set it to music.[1] The successful candidate was James Molloy.

It was first sung by Antoinette Sterling at a concert at St. James Hall in London in 1884. James Molloy worked at her house on the melody and accompaniment.[2] The song has been recorded by many artists, including John McCormack and Clara Butt. The song is alluded to in James Joyce's Ulysses as being sung by Molly Bloom.

Arthur Sullivan was accused of using the song’s first two bars for ‘When a merry maiden marries’ in The Gondoliers; he denied it.[1]

Notable recordings[edit]

Film appearances[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

The song is mentioned in the chorus of Moonlight Bay, a popular song written in 1912.

A surreal rendition of the song was performed by comedian Spike Milligan in his series Q5.

A comical abbreviated rendition of the song is performed by Miss Cathcart (Mary Wickes) in the Dennis the Menace TV show episode "Grandpa and Miss Cathcart", first aired on October 25, 1959.

The track A losing battle is raging, from The Caretaker's 2017 album Everywhere at the end of time (Stage 2), features an instrumental sample of Chester Gaylord’s rendition of the song taken from either an Edison Diamond Disc or cylinder record, looped and manipulated in a deliberately disorientating fashion to reflect the fictional protagonist's steadily worsening dementia.

In The Wolvercote Tongue, an episode of Inspector Morse, Morse quotes, or perhaps misquotes, from the song, and mentions its title.

In the Little House on the Prairie series' eighth book, These Happy Golden Years, Pa sings the song to Laura on the night before she is to be married.

In the film Very Annie Mary 2001, the song is sung by Jack Pugh (Jonathan Pryce) at the piano, accompanied by the Mayor of Ogw, South Wales (Radcliffe Grafton) in an early scene, accompanying scenes of Annie Mary running to the local chip shop after having cooked a disastrous meal for her father.

In the first act of Arthur Miller's "All My Sons," written in 1947, the character of Ann references the lyric "dear dead days beyond recall" when returning to visit her childhood home.

In the 1947 film “Life with Father” William Powell can be seen playing a few bars and singing a portion of the chorus.


  1. ^ a b "Hyperion Records". Retrieved 28 September 2022.
  2. ^ "Second Hand Songs". Retrieved 28 September 2022.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 544. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  4. ^ "The Online Discographical Project". Retrieved October 9, 2017.
  5. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  6. ^ "". Retrieved October 9, 2017.
  7. ^ "". Retrieved October 9, 2017.
  8. ^ IMDB entry
  9. ^ "The Sea Beast". The New York Times. 16 January 1926. Retrieved 7 December 2014.

External links[edit]