Thursday, April 21, 2011

Now We Are Free

Now We Are Free,  is the soundtrack music  played at the end of the box-office success and critically acclaimed epic movie, Gladiator. Hanz Simmer did the musical arrangements while Lisa Gerrard did the lyrics. It is very interesting to note that since its release in 2000 to this date, there are endless debates online on what the song really means. Perhaps equal amount of stir that Simmer produced because of alleged plagiarism on his musical scoring. Carefully examining and listening to the lyrics, you might think it would be Hebrew because of the words Shalom and Shaddai. After a while you get confused because of the word flavum which is Latin. As you move on, some of the words sound Gaelic in the same mode as Enya's works, which would make you conclude this is definitely another piece of Ireland flavor:

Anol shalom
Anol sheh lay konnud de ne um (shaddai)
Nom de leesh
Ham de nam um das
La um de

We de ze zu bu
We de sooo a ru
Un va-a pesh a lay
Un vi-i bee
Un da la pech ni sa
Un di-i lay na day
Un ma la pech a nay
Mee di nu ku

La la da pa da le na da na
Ve va da pa da le na la dumda

Anol shalom
Anol sheh ley kon-nud de ne um.
M-ai shondol-lee
Flavu... {Live on...}
Lof flesh lay
Nof ne
Nom de lis
Ham de num um dass
La um de
Shom de nomm
Ma-lun des
Alas sharum du koos
Shaley koot-tum.

Although I find the lyrics strange way back in 2000, I didn't really care. I remember watching Gladiator a couple of times on then VCD but I was more impressed with the production designs and the idea of how much it had cost the producers to do the film, not really paying attention with the scores. I could not even remember the entire story until TNT kept showing it lately. I was more of a Braveheart  officionado. I can recall post-Gladiator's biggest effect on me was that I named my youngest son Russell (his complete name is Gabriel Russell Lorenzo), after Russell Crowe. Then, my elder twin Meiguell was just two and pronounced R as W. The name stuck and until now we call him Watel, just as unique as Gerrard's words?

My sense of music has changed over the last fours years. I used to enjoy pop music, mostly ballads. But I think as one grows older or to bluntly put it, "as one journeys to middle age", we become more aware of our inner self. Such journey is best appreciated and travelled with  contemplative type of music because of the sense of liberation, creativity, and possibility it brings.

Because of the amount of interests by both followers and critics of this song, I painstakingly surfed the internet for translations I was awed with how much technology provided an avenue for interaction.  The threaded discussions seemed cerebral at one point and then at another, just shallow bickerings. I was enlightened and entertained at the same time. The argument mostly centered on what language was used. Some thought it to be  Aramaic or Hebrew and Latin, the same as my observation. But then someone said it is definitely a derivative of Gaelic or Celtic, since Lisa speaks Breton, not far fetched because she was born of Irish parents, who migrated to Australia. Just when I was almost sold to this idea, someone said it is definitely Armenian and Greek! Along the threaded exchange of ideas, I found two translations, but even then, the authors admitted theirs were not exact, somehow literal to a certain point:

Almighty Freedom
Almighty freer of the soul
Be free
Walk with me
Through the golden fields
So lovely
We regret our sins, but...
We sew our own fate and
Under my face I remain feeble
Under my face, I smile
Even alone/afraid
Under my face I will be waiting
Run with me now soldier of Rome
Run and play in the field with the ponies
Run with me now soldier of Rome
Run and play in the field with the ponies
Run with me now soldier of Rome
Run and play in the field with the ponies
Run with me now soldier of Rome
Run and play in the field with the ponies
Almighty Freedom
Almighty freeer of the soul
Be free
Be free
And imagine
Free with peace at last
It's lovely
It's lovely, this land
No one can believe or understand
How far I came just for my lovely family
I should have been there
with them when the world crashed down
But now they rest with me.
I'll never forget
How I felt that moment
I became free.

The other one goes:

Healing to me
And freely to you from Sol Omnipotens
Wings of Joy
Warmth of Day,
Sun of Dawn
O Sun of Yellow,
The Son of Righteousness,
Son of Morning Light,
Shine high and below!
Shine Aeonion!
Shine now, O Great I AM!
Shine now, O He Who Was!
Shine now, O Great to Come!
Now we are Free!
(Fast tempo, 4 times)
One the One now whom he was to be!
And the One by whom we now do all see
Healing to me;
Healing to you now freely from Sol:
For all the world too
Live on
Rays below,
Come now,
Wings of Joy
Warmth of Day, Sun of Dawn;
The Sun of
Flame by Day
From Our Lord
True Sun of Liberty
Healing you free.

Different translations but the theme is pointing toward the same direction: freedom. I am inclined to go for the first one though since the movie's setting was  the period of the Roman Empire.

Still intrigued, I scoured every single item there is until I came across a post by Nate Jackson which was verified  by some other bloggers about an interview by Hans Simmer and Lisa Gerrard on what the song really meant and what was the language used. In the interview, Simmer stated, "They mean nothing. He went on, "you better be recording when Lisa starts to sing because whatever she starts singing cannot be duplicated." On her part, Gerrard said, "I sing in the language of the heart. It is invented language that I've had for a long time. I believe I started singing it when I was about 12. I believe that I was speaking to God when I sang in that language. Now I am filled with the Holy Ghost, that is the promise in the Bible the Church will not talk about, because this secret would mean the fall of religion." This interview also was supported by another review which was very critical of Simmer's works.

Inspite of Lisa's admissions, still a quite few believes that  in her works, Gerrard engages in glosalalia or speaking in tongues and melisma, which is the singing of a single syllable of text while moving between several different notes in succession unlike syllabic,where each syllable of text is matched to a single note. Wikipedia notes Ding Dong Merrily on High, Unto Us a Child is Born, Gloria  (in French) and Stevie Wonder and Mariah Carey's music as having melismatic features. It also termed Gerrard's language as idioglossia.

What is factual in all of these is Gerrard being an elite artist. If she were a painter, she would have been a Picasso,a Leonardo da Vinci, or a Michaelangelo. If she were a musician, she could definitely be a Mozart, a Bach, or a Beethoven. If a filmaker, a Spielberg, a Jackson, or a Scorsese. Most singers will wait for a good material from composers and writers. She does her own thing. And exceptions are a true mark of a genuine artist. Her soul is deeply imbedded in her works, which are not your regular popular music. You cannot just read between the lines, you have to dig deeper. As I can see, she does not restrict herself in her works. It seemed like she is  drawn to some form of "darkness" which I believe enables her to understand the "light"better. Even her voice is steeply dark, as if  it were emanating from the bowels of the earth, and will make your hair stand on ends. Every word she utters penetrates deeply into the soul. She provokes thoughts and emotions.

The next time I chance upon a Now-We-Are-Free-like song, and there is no translation available, I will just close my eyes and feel the music. I will not go through all these troubles again. No translation is suffice  when  emotions are universal. I will let my heart listen to my soul.

Lisa Gerrard, singing like one of the fallen angels

Lisa Kelly of Celtic Woman, singing like one of the seraphim


  1. I loved this song since I first heard it. I agree with, "I will just close my eyes and feel the music"

  2. I do not recall watching the movie, but now after listening to the music, i am watching tonight. The music and lyrics are very touching. As i am a Hypnotherapist then identify the music as very hypnotic. Love it.

  3. This song always stops me in my tracks no matter what I am doing.

  4. Yes, dark as you have stated... Somehow dark, so I bet it does not belong to soul... İt belongs to ego...

    1. I disagree. This song is so full of soul it is hauntingly beautiful. Possibly the feeling you are misinterpreting as ego.

  5. Did Celtic Thunder sing this song

  6. This music and song make all the hairs on my body stand on end. Absolutely beautiful

  7. Isn't the theme of this song about God Almighty, the Great I Am.checkout for the 2 Megaprophets of Yhwh

    1. Yes, I believe it is about an inner dialogue between her and YHWH. Very personal and intimate that is why no one is able to truly interpret it properly. And Gerrard was correct, this relationship with HIM transcends all religion. It is magical and breathtaking at times.