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The Bells of Notre Dame

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The Bells of Notre Dame
The Bells of Notre Dame
Originally performed by
Composer Alan Menken
Lyrics Stephen Schwartz
Performer(s) Clopin (Paul Kandel)
Claude Frollo (Tony Jay)
Archdeacon (David Ogden Stiers)
Length 6:24
Films The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Shows
Attractions
Video games
Albums The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Original Soundtrack)
Preceded by
Followed by Out There
Video

"The Bells of Notre Dame" is a song from the 1996 Disney film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, composed by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. It is sung at the beginning of the film by the clown-like gypsy, Clopin.

The song details about Quasimodo's origin and is the film's opening credits. During the song, Clopin tells young children about the mysterious bell-ringer of Notre Dame. He then talks about a story that goes back twenty years where a group of gypsies attempted to ferry their way into Paris, but a trap had been laid and they are captured by Judge Claude Frollo and several soldiers. When Quasimodo's mother amongst gypsies is seen carrying a bundle, a guard attempts to confiscate it, prompting her to flee.

Frollo pursues her on his horse, believing her to have stolen goods, in a brutal chase that comes to a head on the steps of Notre Dame cathedral. Here, Frollo takes the bundle out of her hands but, in doing so, strikes a blow to her head with his boot, causing her to fall down onto the stone steps, breaking her neck and killing her. Frollo then learns that the bundle is actually a deformed baby. He sees a well and attempts to drown the baby, as he believes it is a demon from Hell, but is stopped by the Archdeacon, who tells Frollo that he has killed an innocent woman and that, if he wishes for the survival of his immortal soul, he must raise the child as his own. Frollo reluctantly does so and raises the baby in the bell tower of Notre Dame and gives him a cruel name; Quasimodo, which, according to Clopin, means "half-formed". It is quickly learned that Quasimodo is the mysterious bell-ringer.

It is a grand, atmospheric way to open one of Disney's darker and more dramatic animated films.

Musical Version

Die Glocken Notre Dames (The Bells of Notre Dame) is the show’s opening number and it is pretty much exactly the same as it is in the movie but there are some differences, for example, Clopin appears as a beggar and not as a performer, so any humor that the Disney version had is gone and as a result, his puppet is ommitted. Giving us a clear tone. Also Clopin is not telling the story of Quasimodo and Frollo to children he instead tells it to the audience which makes him more clearly a narrator.

Another difference is Quasimodo’s mother talks back to Frollo.

Also, there are more instruments being used. The difference can really be heard when the Archdeacon is singing. There is a Piano and a lower brass opposed to the original which seems to be woodwinds, bells and a high brass. Also the usage of bells at the end is different whereas the movie uses what sounds like low octave bells that play a few notes the musical opts for scales of higher octave bells and, presumably, a xylophone.

Finally, the attitudes of Frollo and the Archdeacon are different. In the movie Frollo is cool and calm and the Archdeacon has a sad yet kind of soft tone for a short period. In the stage show Frollo is flustered and the Archdeacon is forceful from the get go.

Lyrics to opening

Chorus Olim, Olim, Deus Accelere (Once, long ago, God Accelere)
Hoc saeculum splendium (This century splendor)
Accelere fiat venire olim (Accelere may come once)

Clopin: Morning in Paris, the city awakes
To the bells of Notre Dame
The fisherman fishes, the bakerman bakes
To the bells of Notre Dame
To the big bells as loud as the thunder
To the little bells soft as a psalm
And some say the soul of the city's
The toll of the bells
The bells of Notre Dame

(song stops, speaking segment begins)

Listen, they're beautiful, no?
So many colors of sound, so many changing moods
Because you know, they don't ring all by themselves

Clopin puppet: They don't?
Clopin: No, silly boy.
Up there, high, high in the dark bell tower lives the mysterious bell ringer.
Who is this creature?
Clopin puppet: Who?
Clopin: What is he?
Clopin puppet: What?
Clopin: How did he come to be there?
Clopin puppet: How?
Clopin: Hush... (bonks puppet on the head)
Clopin puppet: Ow!
Clopin: and Clopin will tell you.
It is a tale, a tale of a man and a monster.

(song resumes, scene changes to flashback)

Clopin: Dark was the night when our tale was begun
On the docks near Notre Dame
Quasimodo's father: Shut it up, will you!
Male Gypsy: We'll be spotted!
Quasimodo's mother: Hush, little one.
Clopin: Four frightened gypsies slid silently under
The docks near Notre Dame
Barge Driver: Four guilders for safe passage into Paris
Clopin: But a trap had been laid for the gypsies
And they gazed up in fear and alarm
At a figure whose clutches
Were iron as much as the bells
Quasimodo's father: Judge Claude Frollo.
Clopin: The bells of Notre Dame

Chorus: Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy)

Clopin: Judge Claude Frollo longed to purge the world of vice and sin

Chorus: Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy)

Clopin: And he saw corruption everywhere, except within
Frollo: (speaking) Bring these gypsy vermin to the palace of justice.
Guard: You there, what are you hiding?
Frollo: Stolen goods, no doubt. Take them from her
Clopin: (speaking) She ran.

Chorus: Dies irae, dies illa (Day of wrath, that day)
Solvet saeclum in favilla (Shall consume the world in ashes)
Teste David cum sibylla (As prophesied by David and the sibyl)
Quantus tremor est futurus (What trembling is to be)
Quando Judex est venturus (When the Judge is come)

Quasimodo's mother: Sanctuary, please give us sanctuary!

Frollo: A baby? A monster!

Clopin and Archdeacon: Stop!
Clopin: Cried the Archdeacon

Frollo: This is an unholy demon.
I'm sending it back to Hell, where it belongs.
Archdeacon: (singing) See there the innocent blood you have spilt
On the steps of Notre Dame
Frollo: (speaking) I am guiltless. She ran, I pursued.
Archdeacon: Now you would add this child's blood to your guilt
On the steps of Notre Dame?
Frollo: (speaking) My conscience is clear
Archdeacon: You can lie to yourself and your minions
You can claim that you haven't a qualm
But you never can run from nor hide what you've done from the eyes
The very eyes of Notre Dame

Chorus: Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy)

Clopin: And for one time in his life
Of power and control

Chorus: Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy)

Clopin: Frollo felt a twinge of fear
For his immortal soul
Frollo: What must I do?
Archdeacon: (speaking) Care for the child, and raise it as your own
Frollo: What? I'm to be settled with this misshapen...?
Very well. Let him live with you, in your church.
Archdeacon: Live here? Where?
Frollo: Anywhere
(singing) Just so he's kept locked away where no one else can see
(speaking) The bell tower, perhaps, and who knows, our Lord works in mysterious ways
(singing resumes) Even this foul creature may
Yet prove one day to be
Of use to me

(scene changes to puppet show)

Clopin: And Frollo gave the child a cruel name
A name that means half-formed: Quasimodo
Now here is a riddle to guess if you can
Sing the bells of Notre Dame
Who is the monster and who is the man?

Clopin and Chorus: Sing the bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells
Bells of Notre Dame!

Musical Lyrics

CLOPIN
Morning in Paris, the city awakes
To the bells of Notre Dame
The fisherman fishes, the bakerman bakes
To the bells of Notre Dame
To the big bells as loud as the thunder
To the little bells soft as a psalm
And some say the soul of
The city's the toll of the bells
The bells of Notre Dame

Listen, they are beautiful, aren't they? The bells. So many colors of sound, so many changing moods. But, they do not ring all by themselves. No, there is a bellringer.

Now, you think this is just an ordinary scarf, don't you? No, this scarf belonged to a magical woman who - along with the famous bellringer - once brought Paris to its knees. And who better to tell you the tale than the one who knows it best of all! But I must warn you in advance: you are about to see an ugly monster! Just something that I hope that you wish to decide.

Dark was the night when our tale was begun
On the docks near Notre Dame

GYPSY MOTHER
Hush, little one.

CLOPIN
Four frightened Gypsies slid silently under
The docks near Notre Dame

GYPSY MOTHER
Please, please be quiet.

CLOPIN
But a trap had been laid for the Gypsies
And they gazed up in fear and alarm
At a figure whose clutches
Were iron as much as the bells
The bells of Notre Dame

One of the most powerful officials in Paris was the Minister of Justice.

Justice Frollo was a man
With morals so pristine
That he swore he would make
All of Paris just as clean

FROLLO
You there! What are you hiding?

GYPSY MOTHER
Please Sir, I only come into the city seeking help for my baby!

FROLLO
A Baby? Likely story. What have you stolen? See what that gypsy has in her hands.

CLOPIN
And the poor woman ran for her life!

GYPSY MOTHER
Sanctuary! Please give us sanctuary!

FROLLO
This is a child of Satan! I shall send it back where it belongs.

CLOPIN
Stop! Cried the Archdeacon.

ARCHDEACON
What have you done? What have you in your hands?

FROLLO
An unholy demon that this woman has borne.

ARCHDEACON
Lord help us! She's dead!

FROLLO
Dead?

ARCHDEACON
See here the innocent blood you have spilt
On the steps of Notre Dame

FROLLO
I was merely enforcing the law. I never meant to hurt her.

ARCHDEACON
Now you would add this child's blood to your guilt
On the steps of Notre Dame?

FROLLO
This misshapen monster can have no life here!

ARCHDEACON
You can lie to yourself and your minions
You can claim that you haven't a qualm
But you never can run from
Nor hide what you've done from the eyes
The very eyes of Notre Dame!

CLOPIN
And the saints looked down on Frollo
From their stone facade
And he knew he must do penance
In the eyes of God

FROLLO
You're right, father. God has given me this challenge. I will take this... thing and look after it. But I ask a favor of you in return.

ARCHDEACON
What is it?

FROLLO
I have no home to speak of. Let him live here, in the church.

ARCHDEACON
Live here? Where?

FROLLO
Anywhere. The bell tower, perhaps. And let us agree never to speak of what has happened here today. In return, I will raise the child as my own.

ARCHDEACON
Very well.

FROLLO
See this loathsome creature
From whom lesser men would flee

I will ennoble him.

I will keep and care for him
And teach him at my knee
To think like me

CLOPIN
And he gave the child a thoughtless name - a name that means "half-formed" - Quasimodo.

Now...
Here is a riddle to guess if you can
Sing the bells of Notre Dame
Who is the monster and who is the man?

CHORUS
Sing the bells, bells, bells, bells
Bells, bells, bells, bells
Bells of Notre Dame!

Trivia

  • During the song, two songs from the movie can be heard. First, during the introduction, the tune to Someday is heard briefly being hummed. Second, the melody to Hellfire is heard throughout then at the very end, it's used in a brighter tone.


The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Hunchback of Notre Dame- 1996
Media: The Hunchback of Notre Dame | The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Original Soundtrack) | The Hunchback of Notre Dame (musical) | The Hunchback of Notre Dame II | House of Mouse | Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance

Characters: Quasimodo | Esmeralda | Claude Frollo | Phoebus | Hugo, Victor, and Laverne | Clopin | Archdeacon | Achilles | Djali | Quasimodo's mother | Quasimodo's father | Madellaine | Zephyr | Sarousch | Snowball | Brutish and Oafish Guard

Locations: Notre Dame de Paris | Paris, France | Palace of Justice | Court of Miracles

Songs: The Bells of Notre Dame + (Reprise) | Out There | Topsy Turvy | God Help the Outcasts | Hellfire | A Guy Like You | The Court of Miracles | Someday | Le Jour D'Amour | An Ordinary Miracle | I'd Stick With You | Fa la la la Fallen In Love | I'm Gonna Love You | Balancing Act | Rest And Recreation | Top of the World | Esmeralda (Song) | City Under Siege | Out of Love + (Reprise) | Dance of the Gypsies | Made of Stone | Grand Finale

See Also: Disney Sing Along Songs: Topsy Turvy

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