All Creatures of Our God and King
All Creatures of Our God and King comes from the Oxford tradition. St. Francis of Assisi was a monk during the 13th century. Though he grew up wealthy, he dedicated his life in servanthood to God following a serious illness and pilgrimage to Rome. He focused his work on rebuilding churches and ministering to the poor, sick, and social outcasts. Canticle to the Sun, also known as Song of All Creatures, praises God for His provision through nature. In 1225, during the last year of his life, St. Francis composed his poem from memory as he was so frail he was unable to even sit outside.
Being inspired by Psalms 145 and 148, St. Francis created his own prayer of praise. Here are St. Francis’ opening and closing verses of his hymn.
Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing. To you, alone, Most High, do they belong. No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.
Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him. And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.
Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you; through those who endure sickness and trial. Happy those who endure in peace, for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.
Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whose embrace no living person can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those she finds doing your most holy will. The second death can do no harm to them.
Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks, and serve him with great humility.
Psalm 148 celebrates Creations Creator: Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the Lord from the heavens: praise him in the heights. 2 Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts. 3 Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. 4 Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. 5 Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were created. 6 He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass. 7 Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps: 8 Fire, and hail; snow, and vapours; stormy wind fulfilling his word: 9 Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars: 10 Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl: 11 Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth: 12 Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children: 13 Let them praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven. 14 He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints; even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him. Praise ye the Lord.
All Creatures of Our God and King, arr. Mark Hayes
Image: Icon of Saint Francis of Assisi with Dove