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Agincourt Song, The

(Anonymous 15th century English)

Also sometimes known as “The Agincourt Hymn”, “The Agincourt Carol”, “Our King Went Forth to Normandy” or “Deo Gratias Anglia”, which are also words used in the chorus, this folk song was written in England in the first decade to fifteen years of the 15th century either just before or on the return of Henry V from battle.  It describes the Battle of Agincourt, which was fought in France by the armies of Henry V of England and Charles VI of France, where Charles VI was defeated.

It is doubted how much of the song would have been sung at that time though as Henry V put a ban on singing by minstrels in thanks for the victory as he felt all thanks should be given to God.  To this end he put on an “Order of Silence”, but it is also known that the song “Battayle of Agincourt” was adapted for harp around that time.

Although not widely known, it was used in the soundtrack for the film Henry V , which starred and was directed by Sir Laurence Olivier.  An original manuscript of the text is housed in the Bodleain Library, Oxford, England and was published in 1779 by J. Stafford Smith in his Collection of Ancient English Songs, and in 1889 in Reliques by Percy and by Burney in his History of Music Vol. II.

Philips Jones Brass Ensemble recordings
Decca B0000807 (CD: Music from the Royal Court)