Farewell Song 送别

A real farewell song that makes you feel throbbing every time you listen to it


Chinese Name: 送别

English Name: Farewell Song, Farewell, Songbie, Song Bie

Composer: John Pond Ordway

Japanese Adaptor: Kyuukei Inudou 犬童球溪

Chinese Adaptor: Hong Yi (Li Shutong) 弘一法师(李叔同)

Farewell Song 送别

Farewell Song 送别

John Pond Ordway, born in Salem, Massachusetts in 1824, is a famous American composer, music entrepreneur, and educator. His representative work “Dreaming of Home and Mother 梦见家和母亲” was later adapted into a Japanese song “Traveling Sorrow 旅愁” by the Japanese composer Kyuukei Inudou 犬童球溪. The famous Chinese musician Li Shutong 李叔同 heard “Traveling Sorrow” while studying in Japan, and re-arranged it to make it It has become a well-known song “Farewell Song” in the history of Chinese music.

Story Of Farewell Song

“Dreaming of Home and Mother” was composed in 1851. This song was circulated in the United States as a sentimental song during the American Civil War. In the late 19th century, “Dreaming of Home and Mother” spread to Japan. Kyuukei Inudou (1879-1943), who worked as a music teacher at the Niigata Prefecture Girls’ School, published the tune in 1907 in a music textbook titled “Traveling Sorrow” with Japanese lyrics. Since then, Travel Sorrow has been popular in Japan.

Farewell Song 送别
Kyuukei Inudou 犬童球溪

When Li Shutong was studying in Japan from 1905 to 1911, he heard this song filled with homesickness, which made him feel really empathy in a foreign country.

After returning to China, Li Shutong, when he was a music teacher in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, slightly modified the original music of Ordway, and then added his own lyrics with strong Chinese style, the classic song “Farewell Song” was born, and soon spread across the country.

Farewell Song 送别
the Long Pavilion 长亭

“Farewell Song” was first published in “Fifty Chinese Famous Songs” edited by Feng Zikai 丰子恺 and Qiu Menghen 裘梦痕 in 1927 which published by Kaiming Bookstore; in 1958, Feng Zikai added this song to other songs written by Li Shutong and compiled into “Li Shutong Song Collection,” published by the music publishing house. Since then, “Farewell Song” has been sung repeatedly by the movies “February 早春二月” and “My Memories of Old Beijing 城南旧事” as the theme song. The perfect match between the words and music, artistic conception, and imagery of “Farewell Song” makes it an era symbol.

Farewell Song 送别
My Memories of Old Beijing

In 1982, the film of the same name adapted from My Memories of Old Beijing 城南旧事 used “Farewell Song” both as the theme song and background music, which reinvigorated the song and made it more widely known and deeply popular.

The lyrics of the whole song are pure and sincere, with both the charm of classical poetry and easy to understand. It is full of the helplessness of life and sounds very sad.

Farewell Song 送别
Hong Yi (Li Shutong) 弘一法师(李叔同)

Li Shutong’s “Farewell Song” has been repeatedly quoted and played by future generations in the century-old singing, so the lyrics of “Farewell Song” we hear today are often based on the original work, with many additions and versions, and many interpretations.

In terms of music, Li Shutong published the first music publication, “Music Magazine,” in modern Chinese history. He was the first musician in China to compose music with stave, promote piano in China, and introduce Western music theory. Wrote more than ninety songs. He is the forerunner of the Chinese New Culture Movement, an outstanding artist, educator, thinker, and innovator, and an excellent representative of the combination of Chinese traditional culture and Buddhist culture.

Lyrics of Farewell Song

Chinese Lyrics










English Translation

Outside the long pavilion, along the ancient route, fragrant green grass joins the sky,

The evening wind caressing willow trees, the sound of the flute piercing the heart, sunset over mountains beyond mountains.

At the brink of the sky, at the corners of the earth, my familiar friends wander in loneliness and far from home,

One more ladle of wine to conclude the little happiness that remains; tonight my dreams of parting leave me cold.

Outside the long pavilion, along the ancient route, fragrant green grass joins the sky,

I ask of you, as you go this time, when are you to return? When it’s time to come please don’t hesitate.

At the brink of the sky, at the corners of the earth, familiar friends wander in loneliness and far from home,

In life it is happy reunions that are rare; most often we bid farewell.

At the brink of the sky, at the corners of the earth, familiar friends wander in loneliness and far from home,

In life it is happy reunions that are rare; most often we bid farewell.

Farewell Song My Memories of Old Beijing 城南旧事

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