When thinking of running Middle Earth 5 games come to mind
1. MERPS, the source books are great but the rules are rolemaster light and humans can be wizards
2. Deciphers much better than MERPS, actually seams alot like an expanded version of MERPS Quest (a much lighter MERPS game to hook kids) while humans can still be wizards the magic system is much more like tolkiens works than MERPS. However you get waaay to many hit points in my opinion. Amd it has this sorta "I took d20 and moved it to 2d6 removing levels" feel
3. The Riddle of Steel, really gritty, interesting magic system and while not tolkien there are solid reasons elves are better with magic. They handle the side effects to being a spellcaster as you ages as you cast spells. Interesting take.
4. Burning Wheel, very very tolkien inspired but they don't have halfings! Theres a fan made halfing online though. Mouseguard which i a simpler version of Burning Wheel has a fan game around being rangers of the north.
5. Runequest (Mongoose Version) Ok its not great but the character creation is fun and the wiki has all the rules. It really only has the advantages of simple, available, and easy to convert MERPS stuff into.
All in all if I was going with people who can handle complexity I would go with Burning Wheel. If not I would use Dechipers with a house rule to lower the hit points to reasonable.
Running: infrequent VtM game
"I'm beautifully hideous!" - Sven the Nosferatu