I love the Crispin’s Day Speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V. It gives me so much hope. Several years ago, after once again watching Kenneth Branagh’s version of the play, I memorized Crispin’s Day. Ever since, whenever I get depressed and start losing hope, I imagine Christ giving me this speech, reminding me of the day that is coming, when His Kingdom will reign visibly and gloriously upon the earth. How could I turn back? Just like Peter, I agree that Christ alone has the words of life. Where else could we go?
The setting of the Crispin’s Day Speech finds King Harry and his men in dire straits. In the long journey to meet the French on the fields of Agincourt, just before Harry delivers his address, he overhears his cousin, Westmoreland, wishing that the English army could be fortified with more troops from home. Not only were the English tired, hungry, and depleted from previous battles, but they were now facing a French opponent that outnumbered them 5 to 1. Henry responded to Westmoreland by spurning the idea that they needed more troops. In his address to the men, Henry appealed to his men’s sense of honor and loyalty, declaring that if any man wanted to leave, he would pay them to do so. He would not die in that man’s company that feared the fellowship of dying together with him.
In the same way, Christ also calls us to follow Him, to engage in a battle where the only thing we are promised is the glory and joy of fighting beside our Sovereign King; a King who will never leave us and never forsake us. Just like Henry’s men, may we respond to Jesus’ clarion call – ‘He who wishes to gain his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for the sake of Christ, will most assuredly find it.’
Click below to hear my version of the speech and to read the speech as it is written: