Year Song title Composer Subcollection
Lyric Manuscript

The Collection contains images of original or duplicated handwritten lyric manuscripts written by Cheng Kok-kong between 1974 and 2016. The purpose of this Collection is to make Cheng Kok-kong’s original and revised versions of lyrics accessible to the general public for teaching and research and thus enabling scholars to study and observe social changes in Hong Kong over the years through Cantopop lyrics.

 A Streak of Teardrops by Pansy Lau is the oldest song in this Collection and it is also Cheng Kok-kong’s first publicly recorded work. The song was first broadcasted in 1974, and because the Copyright Ordinance was not established at that time, the lyrics was sold for a mere HK$100.

Cheng Kok-kong played a significant part in developing what is now deemed as the golden age of Cantopop during the 70s and 80s [1]. He has penned over 2,000 songs, many of which are now classics Hongkongers are familiar with. Cheng Kok-kong’s lyrics often contain beams of positivity that are able to lift the spirits of listeners and it is with this power to move listeners through his words, he earned the title of "The Inspirational Lyricist". In 1985, he wrote the theme song Oshin for the TV series "The story of Oshin”. It is a song that still tugs many Hongkongers’ heartstrings with its evocative and inspirational lyrics - “Fate is the rival to which I never succumb”. Government departments and non-profit organizations often invite Cheng Kok-kong to write theme songs for their campaigns. Among them are songs written for an anti-drug series that have been immensely popular, including  Treasure Beautiful Life (1981) by Chelsia Chan and For Tomorrow (1982) by Elisa Chan, The Perfect Future (1982) by Roman Tam, Arm Our Heart (1985) and All for Love (1985) by Teresa Cheung. Cheng Kok-kong has also penned the theme song A Little Candlelight for the "International Year of Disabled Persons (IYDP)” in 1981. Because many of his songs convey strong social messages, his songs encapsulate, and silently imprinted, the many societal changes that has taken place in Hong Kong over the past 40 years.

Apart from inspirational songs, Cheng Kok-kong has also written many children’s songs. The Collection contains the published and unpublished lyrics for the famous theme song of the TV series When I was Little in 1977. The unpublished version was more inspirational whereas the published version highlights children’s curiosity and innocence. Even though this song has been written almost 42 years ago, it stands the test of time as many Hongkongers born after 1970s can still remember the lyrics today.

Penning over 80 of his songs, George Lam has been one of the most frequent artists Cheng Kok-kong has worked with. The song In the Middle of the Lake written in 1982 has an earlier unpublished version entitled the Little Village. In his book “Life of Lyrics and Paintings”, Cheng Kok-kong explained how the change came to be “I originally wrote Little Village. But one day I saw colours of the dusk shining on a couple in love, and the picture reminded me of a verse in a Chinese poem “The twilight shines through the trees, sprouting crimson flowers". It inspired me to write In the Middle of the Lake to describe a couple boating on a lake at dusk. This imagery matched the oriental melody well”. [2]

In recent years, Cheng Kok-kong has written songs for different organisations, including  Hundred Years by Joey Yung written in 2005 for a TV series on modern China. The melody for this song was taken from the American song Dreaming of Home and Mother [3] written by John Pond Ordway in 1851 and later published in 1868. In 1904 Japanese musician Inudou Kyuukei wrote and published his lyrics Traveller’s Sorrows to the melody of Dreaming Home and Mother and this song gained popularity in Japan. Whilst studying in Japan between 1905 and 1910, Li Shutong (Venerable Hong Yi) was introduced to the modified melody of Traveller’s Sorrows , he was so moved that he later wrote the song Farewell in 1915. The lyrics for Hundred Years  drew imagery to depict China’s development over the past 100 years. A total of four different versions of lyrics were written for this song, all of which are in this Collection. When talking about the process for writing this song, Cheng Kok-kong said “This song was very hard to write. I was very worried that any word deemed inappropriate will attract huge criticism”. [4]


[1] 簡嘉明. (2012). 逝去的樂言 : 七十年代以方言入詞的香港粤語流行曲研究. (初版.). 香港: 匯智出版有限公司.

[2] 鄭國江. (2013). 鄭國江詞畫人生 (第1版.). 香港: 三聯書店 (香港) 有限公司.  頁141-144.

[3] Dreaming of Home & Mother. Song and Chorus. (1868). The Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection, John Hopkins University.

[4] 馮應謙. (2009). 歌潮・汐韻 : 香港粤語流行曲的發展 (初版. 次文化普及文化叢書). 香港: 次文化有限公司. 頁280-304.