Tag Archives: Rose window

The Hunchback of Notre Dame “God Help the Outcasts” (1996)

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After successfully evading Frollo’s soldiers, Esmeralda unexpectedly finds herself a veritable prisoner inside Notre Dame. While Frollo concedes that he can’t arrest the gypsy inside the cathedral, the moment she steps outside his men will be waiting. Esmeralda is rightfully frustrated, but the Archdeacon points out that maybe Someone in the cathedral can help her (hinting that she should turn to prayer). Esmeralda does indeed begin to pray, and the result is “God Help the Outcasts,” one of the best songs to come out of this film. It actually replaced another song named “Someday” (which you can hear over the end credits) when the directors wanted a quieter song for the scene.

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For the song, Esmeralda is voiced by Heidi Mollenhauer (Demi Moore provides her speaking voice). The song is quiet and somber, as Esmeralda reflects on the plight of outcasts like herself, asking for God to help them since nobody else will.

I don’t know if You can hear me
Or if You’re even there
I don’t know if You would listen
To a gypsy’s prayer
Yes, I know I’m just an outcast
I shouldn’t speak to You
Still, I see Your face and wonder
Were You once an outcast, too?

God help the outcasts
Hungry from birth
Show them the mercy
They don’t find on earth
God help my people
We look to You, still
God help the outcasts
Or nobody will

Esmeralda’s prayer for the outcasts is in stark contrast to the rest of the people praying in the cathedral. While Esmeralda prays for others, the wealthy parishioners pray for themselves, asking for wealth and glory. These scenes are intercut with some gorgeous animated shots of the interior of the cathedral and its stained glass windows (the animators spent a lot of time studying the real Notre Dame to make it as accurate as possible).

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I ask for wealth
I ask for fame
I ask for glory to shine on my name
I ask for love I can possess
I ask for God and His angels to bless me

Undeterred, Esmeralda insists that she herself wants nothing. Meanwhile, as this is going on, Quasimodo is slowly making his way down from the bell tower, lured by Esmeralda’s song. In all his life, I don’t think he’s ever heard a prayer like this before. The notion that someone would want to pray for people like him, I think this is the moment when Quasimodo really starts to fall in love with her.

I ask for nothing
I can get by
But I know so many
Less lucky than I
Please help my people
The poor and downtrod
I thought we all were
The children of God
God help the outcasts
Children of God

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One of my favorite details in this song is that Esmeralda finishes while standing beneath one of the famed Rose Windows. Given the intricacies of the stained glass, it’s replicated in stunning detail, including its colorful shadow cast on the cathedral floor. I’m hoping that someday I can go to Paris and see these beautiful windows for myself.

“God Help the Outcasts” is one of those songs that almost always has me crying by the end, because it’s such a beautiful moment. What do you think of this song? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

The Hunchback of Notre Dame “The Bells of Notre Dame” (1996)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame “Out There” (1996)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame “Topsy Turvy” (1996)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame “Heaven’s Light/Hellfire” (1996)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame “The Court of Miracles” (1996)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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