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"The Bells of Notre Dame" is the opening song from the 1996 Disney animated film The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It features Clopin telling the origins of Quasimodo and how he ended being raised by the films antagonist, Judge Claude Frollo.

The song was performed by Clopin's voice actor, Paul Kandel, Frollo's voice actor, the late Tony Jay, the Archdeacon's voice actor, the late David Ogden Stiers, and the English National Opera Company as the chorus.

LyricsEdit

Olim, olim, Deus accelere {Someday, someday, God speed}
Hoc sæculum splendium {This bright millenium}
Accelere fiat venire olim {Let it come someday}

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

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

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

[Shut it up, will you!]
[We'll be spotted!]
[Hush, little one.]

Four frightened gypsies slid silently under
The docks near Notre Dame

[Four guilders for safe passage into Paris]

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

[Judge Claude Frollo!]

The bells of Notre Dame

Kyrie Eleison {Lord have mercy}
Judge Claude Frollo longed to purge the world of vice and sin
Kyrie Eleison {Lord have mercy}
And he saw corruption everywhere, except within

[Bring these gypsy vermin to the palace of justice.]
[You there, what are you hiding?]
[Stolen goods, no doubt. Take them from her]

[She ran.]

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}

[Sanctuary, please give us sanctuary!]

[A baby? A monster!]

Solvet sæclum in favilla {Shall consume the world in ashes}
Dies iræ, dies illa {Day of wrath, that day}

["Stop!" cried the Archdeacon.]

[This is an unholy demon. I'm sending it back to Hell, where it belongs.]

See there the innocent blood you have spilt
On the steps of Notre Dame
[I am guiltless. She ran, I pursued.]
Now you would add this child's blood to your guilt
On the steps of Notre Dame?
[My conscience is clear!]

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

(Kyrie Eleison {Lord have mercy})
And for one time in his life
Of power and control
(Kyrie Eleison {Lord have mercy})
Frollo felt a twinge of fear
For his immortal soul

[What must I do?]
[Care for the child, and raise it as your own]
[What? I'm to be settled with this misshapen...?
Very well. Let him live with you, in your church.]
[Live here? Where?]
[Anywhere]

Just so he's kept locked away where no one else can see
[The bell tower, perhaps. And who knows? Our Lord works in mysterious ways]
Even this foul creature may
Yet prove one day to be
Of use to me

[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?"

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

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

[Hush, little one.]

Four frightened Gypsies slid silently under
The docks near Notre Dame

[Please, please be quiet.]

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

[You there! What are you hiding?]
[Please Sir, I only come into the city seeking help for my baby!] 
[A baby? Likely story. What have you stolen? See what that gypsy has in her hands.]

[And the poor woman ran for her life!]

[Sanctuary! Please give us sanctuary!]

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

["Stop!" cried the Archdeacon.]

[What have you done? What have you in your hands?]

[An unholy demon that this woman has borne.]

[Lord help us! She's dead!]

[Dead?]

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

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

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

[This misshapen monster can have no life here!]

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!

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

[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.]

[What is it?]

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

[Live here? Where?]

[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.]

[Very well.]

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

[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?

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

Olim, olim, Deus accelere {Someday, someday, God speed}
Hoc sæculum splendium {This bright millenium}
Accelere fiat venire olim {Let it come someday}

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

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

Claude, the older who cared for his brother
Young Jehan, full of beauty and charm

And they lived and they grew
And awoke to the music of Bells
The Bells of Notre Dame
(Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy))

Oh dear brother
Meet these arches and this Sacred dome
(Kyrie Eleison {Lord have mercy})
We are Blessed to find our
Sanctuary and our home.

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
(Kyrie Eleison {Lord have mercy})

You must leave, Jehan,
This holy refuge where you've dwelled
[Leave? But Father—]
Sorry Claude, but I've no choice
Your brother is expelled

[And Frollo didn't hear from his brother for several years. Meanwhile…]

Frollo was ascended
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
And the name that it bore was "Jehan"
And concealing his face 
Frollo strolled to a place
Far away…
Away from Notre Dame

[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

[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.
[A baby? Yours? A…a monster! It's God's punishment on you! The wicked shall not go unpunished!]
[I should have known! I was a fool to think you'd look after him!]
[Look after him? Me?]
[There is no one else! Take him... if you can find anymore heart.]

[Jehan? Jehan?!]

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

And the Saints regarded Frollo
From their stone façade
(Kyrie Eleison {Lord have mercy})
And he felt their gaze
As if it were the Eyes of God

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

[And Frollo gave the child a name. A cruel name that means half-formed...]

[Quasimodo!]

Now here is a riddle to guess if you can
Sing the Bells of Notre Dame
What makes a monster and what makes a man?
(What makes a monster and what makes a man?)
Sing the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells of Notre Dame

Other AppearancesEdit

  • The song was included in both musical theater versions, the German one and the American one.
  • The song was featured in the film's soundtrack.
  • The song was performed on the jukebox musical revue On the Record.

GalleryEdit

ImagesEdit

VideosEdit

OfficialEdit

CoversEdit

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