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"The Bells of Notre Dame" is the opening 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 most of them are captured and taken to the Palace of Justice by Judge Claude Frollo and several soldiers to be executed. 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, he takes the bundle out of her arm 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. He then learns that the bundle is actually a deformed baby. He sees a well and attempts to drown him, as he believes it's a demon from Hell, but is stopped by the Archdeacon, who tells him that he has killed an innocent woman and that, if he wishes for the survival of his immortal soul, he must spare the child and raise as his own. He 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.

Lyrics

Chorus: Olim, olim, Deus accelere (Someday, someday, God speed)
Hoc sæculum splendium (This bright millenium)
Accelere fiat venire olim (Let it come someday)

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: *in alarm* 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 iræ, dies illa (Day of wrath, that day)
Solvet sæclum 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!

Chorus: Solvet sæclum in favilla
Dies iræ, dies illa

Clopin: "Stop!" 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: (speaking) And Frollo gave the child a cruel name
A name that means half-formed: Quasimodo
(singing) 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!

Clopin: So here is a riddle to guess if you can
Sing the bells of Notre Dame
What makes a monster and what makes a man?

Chorus: Sing the bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells…

Clopin: Whatever their pitch you
Can feel them bewitch you
The rich and the ritual knells…

Clopin and Chorus: Of the bells of Notre Dame!

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, to hear these bells is to be reminded of an extraordinary time, when this lowly bellringer brought Paris to its knees. And who better to tell you this story than someone who knows it best of all. But, I must warn you in advance. You are about to see an ugly monster. Just who that might be is for you 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!


Chorus: Olim, olim, Deus accelere (Someday, someday, God speed)
Hoc sæculum splendium (This bright millenium)
Accelere fiat venire olim (Let it come someday)

Congregation: Morning in Paris, the city awakes
To the Bells of Notre Dame
The fisherman fishes, the bakerman bakes
To the Bells of Notre Dame

Phoebus: To the big bells as loud as the thunder

Congregation: 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

Long years ago did this story begin
in this place called Notre Dame
Two orphan brothers were both taken in
by the Grace of Notre Dame

Frollo: Claude, the older who cared for his brother

Jehan: Young Jehan, full of beauty and charm

Both: And they lived and they grew
And awoke to the music of Bells
The Bells of Notre Dame

Chorus: Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy)

Frollo: Oh dear brother
Meet these arches and this Sacred dome

Chorus: Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy)

Frollo: We are Blessed to find our
Sanctuary and our home.

Congregation: Righteous Claude Frollo
Was ever more drawn
Like a son to Notre Dame
Not like his profligate brother Jehan
Who'd have none of Notre Dame
Though as brothers they loved one another
Frollo watched in despair and alarm
As Jehan who grew wild
And defied and defiled
All the Laws
The Laws of Notre Dame

Chorus: Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy)

Father Dupin: You must leave, Jehan,
This holy refuge where you've dwelled

Jehan: Leave? But Father—

Father Dupin: Sorry Claude, but I've no choice
Your brother is expelled

Congregation: And Frollo didn't hear from his brother for several years. Meanwhile…
Frollo was acsended
Uncommonly fast through the ranks of Notre Dame
Till he was named the Archdeacon at last
And gave thanks to Notre Dame
And then one doleful day got a message

Frollo:
And the name that it bore was "Jehan"

Congregation:
And concealing his face
Frollo strolled to a place
Far away…
Away from Notre Dame

Frollo: Jehan! …Let me take you back. I'll bring you home.

Brother dearest, come with me
Where we will find a remedy
And Notre Dame once more will be
Your Sanctuary
Healing you will be my goal
Not just your body, but your soul
We’ll be together in our Holy Sanctuary

Jehan: Enough, Claude! It's too late for me anyway. But if you have truly discovered charity at this late date, there is someone you can help.
Frollo: A baby? Yours? A…a monster! It's God's punishment on you! The wicked shall not go unpunished!
Jehan: I should have known! I was a fool to think you'd look after him!
Frollo: Look after him? Me?
Jehan: There is no one else! Take him…if you can find anymore heart.

Frollo: Jehan? Jehan?!

Chorus: Dies iræ, dies illa (Day of wrath, that day)
Solvet sæclum in favilla (Shall consume the world in ashes)
Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy)

Congregation: And the Saints regarded Frollo
From their stone façade

Chorus: Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy)

Congregation: And he felt their gaze
As if it were the Eyes of God

Frollo: O Lord, You've sent me a test. This child is my cross to bear. I may not have saved my brother, but I will save this… thing.

See this loathesome creature
From whom lesser men would flee
I will keep and care for him
And teach him at my knee
To think like me

Congregation: And Frollo gave the child a name. A cruel name that means half-formed…

Frollo: Quasimodo!

Congregation: Now here is a riddle to guess if you can
Sing the Bells of Notre Dame

Quasimodo: What makes a monster and what makes a man?

Congregation: What makes a monster and what makes a man?
Sing the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells of Notre Dame

Versions

Characters (numbered to fit singers) Singers (numbered to fit characters) Language Title Title (Translated to English)
1-Clopin
2-Frollo
3-Archdeacon
1-ياسر شعبان (Yasser Shaaban)
2-سمير البنا (Samir Al-Banna)
3-علي حسنين (Ali Hassanein)
Arabic "أجراس نوتردام" "The Bells of Notre Dame"
1-Clopin
2-Frollo

3-Archdeacon
1-Cláudio Galvan
2-Leonardo José (speaking)
2-Rodrigo Esteves (singing)
3-Lafayette Galvão
Brazilian Portuguese "O Sons de Notre Dame" "The Sounds of Notre Dame"
1-Clopin
2-Frollo
3-Archdeacon
1-龍天生 (Lóng Tiānshēng)
2-盧國雄 (Lú Guóxióng)
3-???
Cantonese ??? ???
1-Clopin
2-Frollo
3-Archdeacon
1-Jesús Castejón
2-Constantino Romero
3-Miguel Ángel Jenner
Castilian Spanish (EU) ??? ???
1-Clopin
2-Frollo
3-Archdeacon
1-Pep Antón Muñoz
2-Constantino Romero
3-Joan Crosas
Catalan "Els Sons de Nôtre Dame" "The Sounds From Notre Dame"
1-Clopin
2-Frollo
3-Archdeacon
??? Czech ??? ???
1-Clopin
2-Frollo

3-Archdeacon
1-Jess Ingerslev
2-Stig Hoffmeyer (speaking)
2-Niels Weyde (singing)
3-Bendt Reiner
Danish ??? ???
1-Clopin
2-Frollo

3-Archdeacon
1-Bill van Djik
2-Edmond Classen (speaking)
2-Ernst Daniël Smid (singing)
3-Ger Smit
Dutch "Klokken van de Notre Dame" "Bells from the Notre-Dame"
1-Clopin
2-Frollo
3-Archdeacon
1-Antti Pääkkönen
2-Ossi Ahlapuro
3-Matti Siitonen
Finnish "Notre-Damen Kellot" "Notre-Dame's Bells"
1-Clopin
2-Frollo

3-Archdeacon
1-Peter De Smet
2-François Beukelaers (speaking)
2-Wemer Brams (singing)
3-Bert Andre (speaking)
3-Marc Meersman (singing)
Flemish "De Klok van Notre Dame" "The Bell from Notre Dame"
1-Clopin
2-Frollo
3-Archdeacon
1-Bernard Alane
2-Jean Piat
3-Dominique Tirmont
French "Les Cloches de Notre-Dame" "The Bells of Notre-Dame"
1-Clopin
2-Frollo
3-Archdeacon
1-Heinz Rennhack
2-Klausjürgen Wussow
3-Helmut Krauss
German "Die Glocken Notre Dames" ???
1-Clopin
2-Frollo
3-Archdeacon
1-Κωνσταντίνος Παλιατσάρας (Konstantínos Paliatsáras)
2-Δημήτρης Κοντογιάννης (Dimítris Kontogiánnis)
3-Τζον Μοδινός (John Modinos)
Greek "Στα Σκαλιά της Παναγιάς" "On the steps of Notre-Dame"
1-Clopin
2-Frollo
3-Archdeacon
1-מומי לוי (Momy Levy)
2-אלי גורנשטיין (Eli Gorenstein)3-???
Hebrew ??? ???
1-Clopin
2-Frollo

3-Archdeacon
1-Maros Gábor
2-Heyley László (speaking)
2-Szvétek László (singing)
3-Szabó Gyula (speaking)
3-Sárkány Kázmér (singing)
Hungarian "Zeng a Notre-Dame" ???
1-Clopin
2-Frollo
3-Archdeacon
1-Carlo Ragone
2-Eros Pagni
3-Franco Chilemmi
Italian "Le Campane di Notre-Dame" "The Bells of Notre-Dame"
1-Clopin
2-Frollo

3-Archdeacon
1-光枝 明彦 (Akihiko Mitsueda)
2-日下 武史 (Takeshi Kusaka) (speaking)
2-村 俊英 (Toshihide Mura) (singing)
3-村宮 五郎 (Gorō Muramiya) (speaking)
3-佐川 守正 (Morimasa Sagawa) (singing)
Japanese 「ノートルダムの鐘」 (Nōtoru Damu no Kane) "The Bells of Notre Dame"
1-Clopin
2-Frollo

3-Archdeacon
1-김재우 (Kim Jae-woo)
2-김병관 (Kim Byung-gwan)
2-이성훈 (Lee Sung-hoon)
3-송용태 (Song Yong-tae)
Korean
1-Clopin
2-Frollo
3-Archdeacon
1-張明權 (Zhāng Míngquán)
2-林棟甫 (Lín Dòngfu) (speaking)
2-楊小勇 (Yáng Xiǎoyǒng) (singing)
3-金效強 (Jīn Xiàoqiáng)
Mandarin Chinese ??? ???
1-Clopin
2-Frollo
3-Archdeacon
1-Julio Sosa
2-Fernando Escandón
3-José Roberto Reséndiz (speaking)
3-Alejandro Villeli (singing)
Mexican Spanish (LA) ??? ???
1-Clopin
2-Frollo

3-Archdeacon
1-Sigve Bøe
2-Even Stormoen (speaking)
2-Paul Åge Johannessen (singing)
3-Thorbjørn Lindhjem
Norwegian ??? ???
1-Clopin
2-Frollo
3-Archdeacon
1-Robert Rozmus
2-Krzysztof Gosztyła
3-Henryk Machalica (speaking)
3-Jerzy Mahler (singing)
Polish ??? ???
1-Clopin
2-Frollo

3-Archdeacon
1-André Maia
2-Mário Pereira (speaking)
José Lopes (singing)
3-Jorge Sousa e Costa
Portuguese ??? ???
1-Clopin
2-Frollo
3-Archdeacon
1-Алексей Иващенко (Aleksei Ivashchenko)
2-Игорь Балалаев (Igor' Balalayev)
3-Алексей Колган (Aleksey Kolgan)
Russian «Колокола собора Нотр-Дам» "Bells of Notre Dame Cathedral"
1-Clopin
2-Frollo
3-Archdeacon
1-Милан Антонић (Milan Antonić)
2-Бранислав Платиша (Branislav Platiša)
3-Бранислав Платиша (Branislav Platiša)
Serbian ??? ???
1-Clopin
2-Frollo
3-Archdeacon
1-Mikael Grahn
2-Stefan Ljungqvist
3-Håkan Hagegård
Swedish "En sång från Notre Dame" "A song from Notre Dame"

Trivia

  • When Clopin asks, "Who is the monster, and who is the man?", this would eventually refer to Frollo and Quasimodo respectively.
  • Clopin says that "quasimodo" means "half-formed" (in other languages "deformed"), in reality it means (from latin) "almost made" or "more or less".


v - e - d
The-hunchback-of-notre-dame-logo
Media
Films: The Hunchback of Notre DameThe Hunchback of Notre Dame IIVideo

Television: House of MouseEsmeralda
Video games: The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Topsy TurvyKingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
Music: SoundtrackStudio Cast Recording
Books: Big Golden BookClassic StorybookDisney's Wonderful World of Reading

Disney Parks
Disney Animation BuildingStitch and Friends Summer Surprise

Entertainment: Animazment - The MusicalDisney Classics: The Music & The MagicOne Man's Dream II: The Magic Lives On!Mickey's Gift of DreamsThe Golden MickeysThe Hunchback of Notre Dame: A Musical AdventureThe Hunchback of Notre Dame: Festival of Fools
Restaurants: Clopin's Festival of Foods
Parade: The Hunchback of Notre Dame Topsy Turvy Cavalcade
Firework: Disney Dreams!Happily Ever AfterWorld of Color
Halloween: Disney's Not-So-Scary Halloween ShowHappy HallowishesIt's Good To Be Bad With The Disney VillainsRe-Villains! Halloween ParadeThe Disney Villains Halloween ShowtimeVillains Mix and Mingle

Characters
Original: QuasimodoEsmereldaClaude FrolloPhoebusVictor, Hugo, and LaverneClopinArchdeaconAchillesDjaliQuasimodo's motherQuasimodo's fatherOld PrisonerSnowballBrutish and Oafish GuardFrollo's soldiers

Sequel: MadellaineZephyrSarousch

Songs
Original: The Bells of Notre DameOut ThereTopsy TurvyHumiliationGod Help the OutcastsThe Bell TowerHeaven's LightHellfireParis BurningA Guy Like YouThe Court of MiraclesSanctuaryAnd He Shall Smite the WickedInto the SunlightSomeday

Sequel: Le Jour D'AmourAn Ordinary MiracleI'd Stick With YouFa la la la Fallen In LoveI'm Gonna Love You
Musical: Balancing ActRest and RecreationRhythm of the TambourineInto Notre DameTop of the WorldThai Mol PiyasEsmeraldaCity Under SiegeFlight Into EgyptOut of Love (Reprise) • Dance of the GypsiesMade of StoneGrand Finale
Deleted Songs: In a Place of MiraclesAs Long As There's a MoonSomeday

Locations
ParisNotre Dame de ParisPalace of JusticeCourt of Miracles
Miscellaneous
MusicalDisney Sing Along Songs: Topsy TurvyThe Making of The Hunchback of Notre Dame