Thursday, 7 January 2016

Sir William Walton and the Agincourt Carol

This is another classic example in which "modern" orchestral instruments are used to fine effect by Sir William Walton in the famous film of Henry V starring  Olivier. It is directly based on the Argincourt Carol.

The Medieval interpretation of the Argincourt Carol appears in the following Wikipedia article near the end

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Facsimile of the Agincourt Carol in the Trinity Carol Roll (Trinity MS O.3.58)

Facsimile of the Oxford version of the Agincourt Carol (15th century). Oxford, Bodleian Library, Manuscript Archives.
The Agincourt Carol (sometimes known as the Agincourt Song, the Agincourt Hymn, or by its chorus and central words, Deo gratias Anglia) is an English folk song written some time in the early 15th century. It recounts the 1415 Battle of Agincourt, in which the English army led by Henry V of England defeated that of the French Charles VI in what is now the Pas-de-Calais region of France. The carol is one of thirteen on the Trinity Carol Roll, probably originating in East Anglia, that has been held in the Wren Library of Trinity College, Cambridge since the 19th century.[1]
The carol is featured in Laurence Olivier's 1944 film Henry V.[2]


Deo gratias Anglia redde pro victoria!
[Give thanks, England, to God for victory!]
Owre Kynge went forth to Normandy
With grace and myght of chyvalry
Ther God for hym wrought mervelusly;
Wherefore Englonde may call and cry
Deo gratias!
Deo gratias Anglia redde pro victoria!
He sette sege, forsothe to say,
To Harflu towne with ryal aray;
That toune he wan and made afray
That Fraunce shal rewe tyl domesday.
Then went hym forth, owre king comely,
In Agincourt feld he faught manly;
Throw grace of God most marvelsuly,
He had both feld and victory.
Ther lordys, erles and barone
Were slayne and taken and that full soon,
Ans summe were broght into Lundone
With joye and blisse and gret renone.
Almighty God he keep owre kynge,
His peple, and alle his well-wyllynge,
And give them grace wythoute endyng;
Then may we call and savely syng:
The pattern of a strophe (verse) sung in English followed by a burden (chorus) in Latin followed a structure typical of the religious carols of the period.[4]
The Agincourt Carol was recorded by The Young Tradition on Galleries, (with both the Early Music Consort and Dave Swarbrick contributing), and by the Silly Sisters (band) (Maddy Prior and June Tabor) on their second album No More to the Dance.

External links[edit]


  1. Jump up ^ BBC Music, Christmas 2011
  2. Jump up ^ "Soundtracks for "The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France"". IMDb entry for "The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France" (1944). Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  3. Jump up ^ "Der Hundertjährige Krieg: Der sogenannte "Agincourt Carol"". Abteilung für Mittelalterliche Geschichte der Universität Tübingen. Universität Tübingen. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  4. Jump up ^ Roden, Timothy; Wright, Craig; Simms, Bryan (2010). Anthology for Music in Western Civilization 1. Boston, MA: Schirmer. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-495-57274-9. 

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