"The Bells of Notre Dame" is a song from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (film). It
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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 they are captured by Judge Claude Frollo, and several soldiers. When Quasimodo's Mother amongst gypsies is seen carrying her deform infant child, a guard attempts to confiscate it, prompting her to flee.

Frollo pursues her on his horse, believing her infant child to be stolen goods, in a brutal chase that comes to a head on the steps of the Notre Dame cathedral. Here, Frollo takes her infant child out of her hands but, in doing so, strikes a blow to her head with his boot, causing her to fall down backwards onto the stone steps, breaking her neck and killing her. Frollo then learns that the bundle is actually a deformed baby. He sees a well and attempts to drown the baby, as he believes it is a demon from Hell, but is stopped by the Archdeacon, who tells Frollo that he has killed an innocent woman and that, if he wishes for the survival of his immortal soul, he must raise the child as his own. Frollo 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.


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)

Clopin : 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!
Man #2 : We'll be spotted!
Quasimodo's Mother : Hush, little one.
Clopin : Four frightened gypsies slid silently under the docks near Notre Dame
Man #3 : 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.
Quasimoldo's father : 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 irae, dies illa (Day of wrath, that day).
Solvet saeclum 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!
Archdeacon : Stop!
Clopin : 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.
But I won't let him live here 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 : 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?
Clopin and Chorus : Sing the bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells. Bells of Notre Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaame


  • The late Mary Kay Bergman, who was the voice of Quasimodo's Mother has her name, and Jim Cummings name edited out in the soundtrack.
  • When Clopin asks, "Who is the monster, and who is the man?" this would eventually refer to Frollo and Quasimodo.
  • Clopin says that "Quasimodo" means "half-formed" (in other languages "deformed"), in reality means "almost made" or "more or less".
  • During the song, two songs from the movie can be heard. First, during the introduction, the tune to Someday is heard briefly being hummed. Second, the melody to Hellfire is heard throughout then at the very end, it's used in a brighter tone.
  • A portion of the Dies Irae music can be heard in the scene where Frollo kills Quasimodo's mother. It was part of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozarts famous last compositions, Requiem in D Minor. Tom Hulce, the voice of Quasimod, played Mozart in the 1985 movie Amadeus.

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Hunchback of Notre Dame - Bells of Notre Dame

Hunchback of Notre Dame - Bells of Notre Dame