Something for Thursday

Listening to this piece might lead one to assume that it is perhaps a movement from a larger sacred work for baritone, chorus, and orchestra, but it is not: It’s a piece of film music, composed by Patrick Doyle for Kenneth Branagh’s 1989 production of Shakespeare’s Henry V. This piece comes after the Battle of Agincourt, when it becomes clear that the vastly-outnumbered English host has in fact routed the French. King Henry says this:

Do we all holy rites:
Let there be sung Non nobis and Te Deum,
The dead with charity enclos’d in clay;
And then to Callice, and to England then,
Where ne’er from France arriv’d more happy men.

Composer Doyle–for whom Henry V was the first major film project–wrote a penetrating and lyrical theme of both sadness and hope to accompany a long tracking shot as King Henry marches across the field of battle, carrying one of his English casualties on his back. Braveheart gets a lot of credit for the brutality of its battle scenes, but Henry V was there first, depicting medieval battlefields as places of churned mud and bloody filth. Doyle’s soaring sacred piece soars above all of this, building and building from the soloist onward as more and more of the musical forces join in. The result is sublimely effective, and it’s easy to see why Branagh has returned to Patrick Doyle for his filmscores in many, if not all, of his subsequent directorial efforts.

Here is “Non nobis domine” from Henry V.

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2 Responses to Something for Thursday

  1. Michael May says:

    Oof. I love this piece so much.

  2. Annehueser says:

    Me too!

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