“… above all shadows rides the Sun”.
That’s a line from a song that the hobbit Samwise Gamgee sings to give him hope at a critical moment in J R R Tolkien’s epic fantasy The Lord of the Rings. Sam is stranded in the dark land of Mordor and Frodo, his master, has been captured. Their quest to destroy the one ring of power looks hopeless. But hope is not lost.
Kaitlyn Facista, who runs the online fan community Tea with Tolkien, says that this belief is what draws people to The Lord of the Rings: the hope that helps people persist through dark times.
On Tolkien Reading Day, observed on March 25 every year, Kaitlyn enjoys reading Tolkien’s writings along with other similarly devoted fans. The poem quoted above – “In Western Lands Beneath the Sun” – is a particular favourite.
In this interview with Life & Faith, Kaitlyn explains the significance of March 25 within the world of Lord of the Rings: it’s the day the one ring is finally destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom. The date is also significant within Tolkien’s own Christian tradition. It’s when the Feast of the Annunciation is celebrated – when the angel Gabriel told Mary she would bear Jesus, God’s son. March 25 is also regarded as the day of Jesus’ crucifixion.
Tolkien once described The Lord of the Rings as “a fundamentally religious and Catholic work”. Kaitlyn explores these religious resonances and tells us about being invited to meet the showrunners of The Rings of Power, the Amazon Prime TV show and prequel (of sorts) to Lord of the Rings.
To Middle-Earth and Back Again: Kaitlyn’s companion journal to The Lord of the Rings
Tolkien’s poem: In Western Lands beneath the Sun