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Helm’s Deep is prepared for war. Éowyn complains to Aragorn that she should be allowed to fight, not required to join the other women and children in the Glittering Caves. A particularly emotive setting of her melody begins this composition, though ten measures in it becomes clear that we’re listening to a new Éowyn theme. In her plea, she blurts out that she loves Aragorn. This is the Éowyn and Aragorn theme, in some ways the most courageous in Éowyn’s catalogue. It rounds off the searching rise of her principle theme with earnest descending contours, but this kind of self-expression is still foreign to Éowyn. Immediately she shrinks back, resigned to her place in the Caves. The line dissipates, only to be replaced by a steady and abject setting of the Rohan theme for orchestral strings.

The Fellowship surveys the arming of Rohan, boys and old men alike. Swords are distributed, while low strings assemble a few steely phrases built off minor triads. “They are all going to die!” Legolas tells Aragorn. He shoots back, “Then I shall die as one of them!” As noble as the sentiment may be, the score sets it against a dark French horn Evil Times variant. Unless the situation changes, the Elf is correct. Théoden, too, is readying himself, privately fearful of what fate seems to promise. Again, low strings present a series of hardened figures based on minor triads, this time less militaristic and more fatalistic. Chorus rises with “The Call” over a heartbeat of timpani.

The soldiers convene upon the ramparts, but Aragorn has lost his resolve. He sits dejected, watching the troops until he sees Háma’s son, Haleth, a mere boy, ready to join the men in battle. Another trumpet call sounds, aspiring to be a bold call to arms, but stuck on the first two pitches of the Rohan Fanfare, unable to complete the line. Aragorn speaks with the boy as low strings continue with an accompaniment, likewise attempting to complete the Rohan phrase, but again, incapable. Fearful, Haleth looks to Aragorn for words of encouragement. The Heir of Isildur offers no false optimism, but tells the boy to never surrender hope. In this moment, Aragorn understands why he must lead. As he arms himself the trumpet call returns, still unable to complete a heroic statement of the Rohan Fanfare, but enlivened, quicker, coupled with a bold snare drum tattoo. The three members of the Fellowship of the Ring reunite, and the down-and-back-up pitches of the Fellowship theme sound in reverberant strings. The odds of survival may not have improved, but there is honor, nonetheless, in doing what is right.

The low string figures under Aragorn’s talk with Haleth are dissolved out of the film’s sound mix.

Text by J.R.R. Tolkien
Old English Translation by David Salo
First Heard: Disc Two | Track Thirteen
Hwæ ´r cwóm helm? hwæ ´r cwóm byrne? | Where is the helm and the hauberk,
Hwæ ´r cwóm feax flówende? | and the bright hair flowing?
Hwæ ´r cwóm hand on hearpestrenge? | Where is the hand on the harpstring,
Hwæ ´r cwóm scír fyyr scínende? | and the red fire glowing?
Hwæ ´r cwóm lencten and hærfest? | Where is the spring and the harvest
Hwæ ´r cwóm héah corn weaxende? | and the tall corn growing?
Hwá gegaderath wuduréc of wealdholte byrnende? | Who shall gather the smoke of the dead wood burning?
Oththe gesiehth of gársecge thá géar gewendende? | Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?

© The Annotated Score (The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films)

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