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In recently watching the first few numbers from the 10th anniversary of the musical Les Misérables, I wondered: in contemporary culture is there another example of something so popular where the Christian themes are so numerous and explicit?

See, for example, the number of themes you can identify in these first 10-15 minutes:

As many readers will now, this December (2012) a new film version—with some of the musical numbers—will appear, starring Hugh Jackman (Valjean), Russell Crowe (Javert), and Anne Hathaway (Fantine)—and also including Sacha Baron Cohen as Thénardier and Colm Wilkinson (the original Valjean in the London musical) as the Bishop of Digne. It is directed by Tim Hooper, who previously directed The King’s Speech.

Those who want to read the book will probably want to consider the recent edition by acclaimed translator Julie Rose.

John Piper writes, “We have little hope that his spiritual pilgrimage led him to Christ and heaven. But in the providence of God, and by the grace he scatters so liberally among his adversaries, Hugo was brilliant in his blindness. The imago dei and the remnants of his Christian roots break forth—to the praise of his Maker.” Piper reproduces some of his favorite quotes from the novel here. For more extensive list, see this series of excerpts collected by Trevin Wax.

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5 thoughts on “Les Misérables”

  1. Steve S. says:

    The most powerful musical ever. If you haven’t seen the 25th anniversary DVD go out and buy it now! It’s amazing.

    Shameless plug: my daughter played Ephonine (who happens to be my favorite character other than Val Jean) in the youth version last fall. The video is crappy but the audio is decent. It’s a beautiful song beautifully sung.

  2. Steve S. says:

    Eponine is played by Samantha Barks in both the 25th anniversary edition and in the movie. Here is a video of her singing On My Own:

  3. Dan W. says:

    Or if you’d like the audio book, George Guidall will read to you all 60+ hours of the unabridged Rose translation.

    He’s good.

    More info and an audio sample here:

  4. Michael Mills says:


    My heart sunk reading the Piper quote. He virtually states that Hugo is in Hell. Perhaps so. The point is none of us know who is redeemed and who is not. That’s God’s job, not ours to guess…or judge. Perhaps it would have been better to say, “We pray that Hugo came to the place of repentance before his death….”

    I mention this not in an attempt to start and argument. Rather, merely to point out that we stand on shaky ground when we attempt to proclaim who is saved and who is not. Again, only the Father knows. That’s his job…not ours.

  5. Michael Abbott says:

    Hugo must have been blessed to write a piece of literature where he touches all human feelings and trespassings. The music to the story is heavenly and I admit to cry every time I am listening and I am listening regulary. The top is the anniversary concert and unfortunately for many other good singers, it sets the bar very, very high and is hard to follow.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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