Do You Hear the People Sing?

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"Do You Hear the People Sing?" or À la volonté du peuple (At the people's will) in the original French version, is one of the principal and most recognizable songs from the musical Les Misérables. A stirring anthem, it is sung twice in the stage musical.


The song is first sung in Act I by Enjolras and the other students at the ABC Cafe as they prepare themselves to launch a rebellion in the streets of Paris during the funeral procession of the general, and member of the parliament, Jean Maximilien Lamarque. The song is sung again in the "Finale" as the final song of the musical. This second version, which immediately follows a number by Jean Valjean and others, is sung by the entire cast with revised lyrics, and becomes progressively louder with each stanza.

The song is a revolutionary call for people to overcome persecution and adversity. The "barricades" referenced in the song are erected by the rebel students in the streets of Paris in the musical's second act. They are to draw the National Guard into combat and ignite a civilian uprising meant to overthrow the oppressive government, but their rebellion eventually fails.

Use in various languages[edit]

The song used as a slogan in the 2014 Hong Kong protests
  • The original French version of Les Miserables did not end with the full ensemble singing this song; It only later became the musical's Finale song when it was revamped for the English-language version.
  • At the special Les Miserables 10th Anniversary Concert in 1995, Do You Hear the People Sing? was sung by 17 different actors who had played Jean Valjean around the world. Each actor sang a line of the song in his own language. The languages sung were English, French, German, Japanese, Hungarian, Swedish, Polish, Dutch, Norwegian, Czech, Danish, and Icelandic.
  • There are also unofficial adaptations of Do You Hear the People Sing? in various Chinese dialects, intended as actual protest songs; better known versions include "Ask Who Hasn't Spoken Out" (問誰未發聲), written in Cantonese for Occupy Central with Love and Peace, and Lí Kám Ū Thiann-tio̍h Lán Ê Kua (你敢有聽着咱的歌) in Taiwanese Hokkien.[1]

Use as a protest song[edit]

Aside from the aforementioned Cantonese and Taiwanese Hokkien adaptations, The Telegraph said that the song "has long chimed with people protesting around the world", adding that it was heard at the 2011 Wisconsin protests, the 2013 protests in Turkey, and a protest against the opening of a McDonald's restaurant in Australia in 2013.[1] It has also been used by anti-TTIP protesters who have interrupted TTIP congresses as flashmobs singing the song.[2]


  1. ^ a b Moore, Malcolm (30 September 2014). "How a song from Les Misérables became Hong Kong's protest anthem". (London). Retrieved 1 October 2014. 
  2. ^