The real original lyrics of ‘Do you hear the people sing?’

The real original lyrics of ‘À la volonté du peuple’ (known in English as ‘Do you hear the people sing?’) are from Alain Boublil who composed the song with Claude-Michel Schönberg for the musical adaptation in 1980 of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. Many new adaptations have been made since the 80’s until recently, when the last filmed adaptation offered the English version to Hong Kong protesters who used the music and the political symbols behind the lyrics, during the fight over the extradition bill proposition by Hong Kong government in 2019. The English lyrics used in Tom Hooper’s movie – released in 2012 – are quite different from the original French lyrics, even though the spirit had been respected. Many people on social medias tried to translate these lyrics again from French to English, but with due respect to all the generous people who tried their best to render the original meaning but sometimes ignoring the structure of the song, as a teacher and translator myself I felt many times unsatisfied with most of what I’ve seen. Here is my version – also not perfect, indeed – in which I tried to respect both the meaning and the rhythm, in case anyone wants to try and sing it.


TO THE PEOPLE’S DECISION

To the people’s decision
and to well-being of progress
fill your heart with a rebel wine
n’ see you tomorrow, faithful friend
We want to bring up the light
in spite of the mask of the night
to illuminate our land
and to change the life

We ought to earn at the war
our furrow for the ploughing
clear up all misery
to sow the blond wheat ears of peace
which will rejoice dancing
in the great wind of liberty

To the people’s decision
and to well-being of progress
fill your heart with a rebel wine
n’ see you tomorrow, faithful friend
We want to bring up the light
in spite of the mask of the night
to illuminate our land
and to change the life

To the people’s decision
I donate my own decision
If we’ve to die for it
I want to be myself the first
the first of the names carved
in marble on the shrine of hope

To the people’s decision
and to well-being of progress
fill your heart with a rebel wine
n’ see you tomorrow, faithful friend
We want to bring up the light
in spite of the mask of the night
to illuminate our land
and to change the life


Here on Youtube, you may listen and read the original French song sung by Michel Sardou, famous French singer and original singer in the 1980’s adaptation.

JSD


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