Henry V, Act 4, Scene III – “This day is called the feast of Crispian…”

Today is called the Feast of Crispian…

Some video versions … in order:

Henry V (1944) directed by and starring Lawrence Olivier
Henry V (1979) directed by David Giles and starring David Gwillim
Henry V (1989) directed by Michael Bogdanov and starring Michael Pennington
Henry V (1989) directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh

Richard Burton’s version:

Tom Hiddleston:

Happy Feast of Sts. Crispin and Crispinian.

And let the revival of our liturgical worship continue.  The numbers of Holy Masses in the Extraordinary Form are growing, though but slowly.  For now content us saying “the fewer men, the greater share of honour”.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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16 Responses to Henry V, Act 4, Scene III – “This day is called the feast of Crispian…”

  1. Finarfin says:

    I have a fascination with this day. Even though I believe the English were on the wrong side of the 100 Year’s War, I still find Henry’s speech rather inspring, and more still his victory. My favorite version of the video though, was the one you posted last year Father. But I must say, these are good too.

  2. kab63 says:

    Thanks for the reminder! Branagh’s is still my favorite. I need to hear “remember-ed” pronounced with its 4 syllables.

    You forgot to include Billy Zane from “Tombstone”. ;) Not quite at Olivier’s level of expertise, but still fun.

  3. Thank you, Fr., for the commemoration. Shakespeare could not, I think, have foreseen that one day, October 25 would not longer be Crispin Crispinian, thus making a hash of the claim that it “shall ne’er go by, / from this day to the ending of the world, / but we in it shall be remembered!”

    Perhaps this is the lesson: “Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot, / but he’ll remember with advantages / what feats he did that day!”

  4. mamajen says:

    The (rather odd) storybook “Mr. Dog” by Margaret Wise Brown is a favorite in our house. I had no idea the dog’s name, Crispin’s Crispian, was saintly in origin…or at least I presume that’s where she got the idea from.

  5. Like kab63, Branagh’s version remains my favorite (most of Tom Hiddleston’s was too soft, although I think he hit the “band of brothers” line out of the park). But I think the best part of Branagh’s version of the play is actually Patrick Doyle’s gorgeous score and its centerpiece, a fantastic setting of “Non nobis, Domine, sed nomini tuo da gloriam” (Ps. 113:9 in the Vulgate), which the soldiers sing after the Battle of Agincourt as they gather up the dead. It starts out with a single, exhausted, mournful voice before eventually rising into a majestic hymn of praise to the Lord.

  6. Andkaras says:

    Here is a vote for the Branagh version because it got my husbands attention.He even asked what the Te Deum was.

  7. Will D. says:

    I agree with Scitoviasdomini, Branagh’s my favorite, and the beautiful music has a great deal to do with it. The way it builds up behind Henry’s speech really helps deliver the emotional punch.
    I’d never seen the Gwillim version, but I rather liked it. He does a nice job switching from the light jovial tone describing the old soldiers telling war stories, to a very heartfelt solemn tone his voice catching just slightly at the “band of brothers” line.
    Richard Burton, that unhappy man, was one of my favorite actors. He always imbued the characters with with a sort of world-weary strength that appeals to me, and I delight in his voice. However, I don’t think that those qualities quite suit the character of Harry.

  8. Sissy says:

    Branagh for the win!

  9. dnicoll says:

    Branagh version by far. Olivier version leaves me cold.

  10. dnicoll says:

    Branagh is my fave version by far. Olivier version leaves me cold.

  11. Theodore says:

    Fr Z. Thanks for the reminder. Another filmatic depiction of this speech is the recurrent use of it by the Eastern swells and toffs who joined the Rough Riders as shown in Milius’s movie of the same name. I can’t find a clip of it but if you have the movie it occurs during the charge up Kettle Hill by the Rough Riders who supported the charge of the 10th U.S. Cavalry “Buffalo soldiers” on same.

  12. introibo says:

    Wow, Loki/Cap. Nicholls (War Horse) doing King Hal..never saw it before.

    I do love Doyle’s Non Nobis Domine..

  13. asperges says:

    Olivier is a far more faithful rendition than Branagh, whose delivery is far more Hollywood than Shakespeare: more familiar to our modern ears perhaps than the more polished, measured and declamatory style of earlier times, but the latter is vastly superior. Listen to the delivery and rhythms.

    Richard Burton speaks faster but still with weight: that version was made for radio in the 50s. The others lack gravitas in comparison, with Hiddleston almost going through the speech almost as an aside.

    Compare a sermon in chatty style with a microphone, and a classical sermon from a pulpit properly measured to make the voice carry and you have the difference. Gravitas. However the absolute master of Shakespeare was not Olivier but Gielgud. Lawrence Olivier was in constant anxiety of being upstaged by him.

    BTW: The Feast of Crispin and Crispinian (French saints) still appears in the traditional Dominican rite ordo for today and will have been celebrated accordingly. They also appear in the Anglican calendar in England at least,ý some of the few not to be knocked out at the Reformation. They didn’t survive Vatican II reforms however.

    They are patron saints of coblers, tanners, leatherworkers and lacemakers.

  14. Norah says:

    Scito… you said all I wanted to say far better than I could have said it. Thank you.

  15. Luce says:

    Loved watching these. Agree with Scitoviasdomini though, the music puts Branagh’s speech in another category. I wonder how he would fare in the competition without it.

  16. Mariana says:

    1st choice Olivier
    2nd choice Branagh
    3rd – what 3rd?!