FRIDAY FUN: ‘Non Nobis Domine’

Non Nobis Domine, Venice

I know what you’re thinking. What in the heck does ‘Non nobis Domine’ mean and why should I care? I mean, it sounds kinda Latin-ish or something.

That’s cuz it is. Duh. But don’t let that scare you. Non Nobis Domine is from Kenneth Branagh’s masterful adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry V (1989).  It’s performed at the end of the Battle of Agincourt in which the badly outnumbered* English army led by Henry scores a stunning victory over the French army. Because of mud. And the English longbow. Oh, and one other Hand.

A highlight of the movie, Non Nobis Domine is a choral arrangement performed by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Sir Simon Rattle.  It’s considered one of the most beautiful of all choral pieces and is actually a pretty catchy tune. Bonus points: the complete lyrics are just one line. So don’t freak. From Psalm 115: Non nobis domine, sed nomini tuo da gloriam

Not to us, O Lord, not to us; but to thy name give glory. (You’ll get this if you watch the movie. Or know the history. Even a little.) That’s Kenneth Branagh as Henry V carrying a young Christian Bale to the dead cart.

Here’s another version.

And yep, this film should’ve won Best Picture. Period. If you haven’t seen it, now would be good. I’ve even saved you some time by including a link to the plot summary.

You know what to do.


* Estimates vary. The English army landed in France and besieged the port town of Harfleur some 30,000 strong. But the siege took its toll. Many died from disease and a strong garrison had to be left to defend the captured port. At the Battle of Agincourt, Henry’s army was reduced to around 5,000 knights, men-at-arms and archers. Estimates of the size of the French army vary widely, from 30,000 to as high as 100,000. That’s pretty lop-sided any way you slice it. So. Do you get Non Nomis now?


Photo credit: Creative Commons, Giorgio Minguzzi