Song from Les Miserables of the 1848 revolutionairies

My daughter was asked to learn a song which is the song the revolutionaries sang. I got flustered and thought it was the French Revolution and asked if the song could be changed, which they agreed to but then I realized it was the revolution of 1848, about which I onow nothing.

It is not for being in a play, it’s for a stand-alone recital sort of thing.

Sooooo, here are the lyrics–thanks for any thoughts!

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the song of angry men?
It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again.
When the beating of your heart echoes the beating of the drums,
there is a life about to start when tomorrow comes.

Will you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me?
Beyond the barricade, is there a world you long to see?
Then join in the fight that will give you the right to be free.

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the songs of angry men?
It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again
When the beating of your heart, echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start when tomorrow comes

Will you give all you can give so that our banner may advance?
Some will fall and some will live
Will you stand up and take your chance?
The blood of the martyrs will water the meadows of France

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the songs of angry men?
It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again
When the beating of your heart, echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start when tomorrow comes!

Lyrics from

What kind of thoughts do you want? :confused:

It’s a beautiful song and that scene in the movie makes me cry. These were poor, starved men with families, who had no one to speak for them, no one to help them, and were oppressed by the opulant rich who cast them off as swine. THese were children who slaved away in workhouses. I don’t see what’s wrong with this movie’s POV, even if one has other issues with the French Revolution

If permitted, maybe she could sing their reprise from the end of the movie when they’re in Heaven?

My thoughts are, singers are often required to play roles when singing. For this assignment, your daughter would be playing the role of a revolutionary. Whether or not the revolutionaries in the play are morally correct, that is the role she is playing. That is part of being an artist and a musician. I don’t see anything particularly offensive in the lyrics of this song.

I love this song! …was there some sort of problem with it?

Well, when I thought it was a song from the French Revolution, I didn’t want her to sing it as a stand-alone sort of song… it just bothered me. Those who fought against the French revolutionaries wore the badge of the Sacred Heart and it just seemed wrong to sing one of their songs without the context of the surroundings.

But then I realized it was actually from a revolution I knew nothing about :o

Oy vey!

Thanks so much :slight_smile:

oh, thank you, this makes it all seem much better.

Obviously I haven’t seen the movie…

I think I understand your concerns. However, there isn’t much to be concerned with here.

The 1830 revolt was a separate phenomenon from the French Revolution.

In essence, after the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, the defeated French were forced by Britain to resubmit to the old monarchy (under Louis XVIII, brother of the beheaded Louis XVI).

Human and economic conditions remained desperate in France, leading to revolts in 1830 and 1832 (the setting of Les Miserables).

The philosophical and antitheistic motivations from 1789 were not carried on, and do not appear in the song lyrics from the stage version of LM.


GEddie is correct, and in addition to that, if you watch either the movie or the stage version, the revolutionaries have a semi-religious character–obviously they aren’t stopping for prayer every few minutes, but their songs and dialogue have Christian overtones. This is consistent with the beliefs of Victor Hugo, who was a Christian but was not heavily religious. While Les Miserables is not religious, it has a message of mercy and redemption that is very Christian in character. I would have no problems with a Catholic child singing this song.

If it helps, the song is not actually from that time period at all, so I would be hesitant to call it one of “their songs”. The song was written to be sung by characters in a musical about a revolution. In as much as the lyrics are not offensive and hopefully your child’s teacher has the sense to explain that they are playing a role when performing the piece, I would not be concerned.

Which adds to the irony of the fact that Les Miserables, the Hugo book, was on the “Index of Forbidden Books” for years, and as I understand it, was taken off the “Index” not too long before the Index itself was abolished. I can only surmise that Church authorities at the time distrusted its anti-authoritarian and revolutionary message.

Les Miserables “Do You Hear The People Sing”:

Some further context for the OP;

They are at the funeral procession for a politician who spoke for the poor, the only one who gave the abused and oppressed a voice. With his death, the students leading this revolution knew that was it, there was no one to help them. From what I remember from history class, IRL there were also founded concerns by some that the water wells of the poor were being poisoned to continue to eradicate the “street rats”

Thanks so much, everyone :slight_smile: I apologized to the lady and it looks like this will go forward with the song as orginally planned.

And I will try to remember in the future not to react so quickly on so little information :o

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