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Francis & Clare of AssisiSelected Writings
By Adam HarperCollins Spiritual Classics
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Adam HarperCollins Spiritual Classics
All right reserved.
The Canticle of Brother Sun
Song, music, and poetry were so deeply a part of the nature of Saint Francis that in times of sorrow and sickness as well as of joy and good health he spontaneously gave voice in song to his feelings, his inspirations, and his prayers. The clearest expression of this aspect of the personality of il Poverello -- "the Poor Man of Assisi," as Saint Francis was known -- is the Canticle of Brother Sun. G. K. Chesterton, in his reflections on the saint, wrote of this work: "It is a supremely characteristic work and much of Saint Francis could be reconstructed from that work alone."
This magnificent hymn expresses the mystical vision of Saint Francis of Assisi and, since it springs from the depths of his soul, provides us with many insights into the profundity of his life of faith in the triune God, who so deeply enters into creation. In this vision, however, the Poor Man does not lose himself in space or in the vastness of the created world. He becomes so intimate and familiar with the wonders of creation that he embraces them as "Brother" and "Sister" -- that is, members of one family. More than any other aspect ofthe Canticle of Brother Sun, this unique feature has enhanced the spiritual tradition of Christian spirituality.
Most high, all-powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor, and all blessing.
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no man is worthy to mention Your name.
Praised be You, my Lord, with all your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
who is the day and through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor;
and bears a likeness of You, most high One.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather
through which You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night,
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love
and bear infirmity and tribulation.
Blessed are those who endure in peace,
for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no living man can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.
Excerpted from Francis & Clare of Assisi by Adam HarperCollins Spiritual Classics Copyright © 2006 by Adam HarperCollins Spiritual Classics. Excerpted by permission.
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