Thursday, July 26, 2012

All Creatures of our God and King

This one goes out to a good friend of mine, Father Tim Biren.

Hymn Title: All Creatures of our God and King

Tune: Lasst Uns Erfreuen

Numeric Outline: with refrain.

     This is one of the few tunes that is played consistently at the Saint Thomas More Newman Center at Minnesota State University Mankato, where I accompany masses with regularity on Sunday evenings. It was written by a man by the name of Francesco Di Bernardone, or otherwise known as Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals. Born as the son of a wealthy merchant in Assisi in 1181, Saint Francis eventually had a vision and gave up his wealth to live in poverty and become a preacher in 1204. In 1210, the Catholic Church recognized the following that Saint Francis had built up and called it the Franciscan order. In 1224, he was considered to have had one of the first experiences of Stigmata (the wounds of Christ appearing on a person) ever recorded on a human. Finally in 1226 St. Francis passed away and was eventually canonized in  1228. St. Francis had a saying, "if you have men that will exclude any of gods creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men." 
     Written just before his death, "All Creatures of our God and King," was written to reflect St. Francis's thoughts on Psalm 145, but was not actually published until nearly 400 years later. The first known tune to the text was composed in 1623 (Cologne), but is most prominently known by the setting written by the English composer Ralph Vaughn Williams. He was the first one to take the hymn and publish is in an English Hymnal in 1906 under the title "Lasst Uns Erfreuen." In 1910, William Henry Draper translated the text of the hymn from Italian to English for a Children's festival in England. Though Draper had actually written over 60 different hymns, this was his only translation, and today it remains as one of his most popular. It wasn't until nine years later (1919), however, that Draper's translation made it into a hymnal. 

The Text:

(1) All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! 

(2) Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!

(3) Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
That givest man both warmth and light.

(4) Dear mother earth, who day by day
Unfoldest blessings on our way,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,
Let them His glory also show.

(5) And all ye men of tender heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
O sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care!

(6) And thou most kind and gentle Death,
Waiting to hush our latest breath,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou leadest home the child of God,
And Christ our Lord the way hath trod.

(7) Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One!

The Hymn:

My take on the Hymn:

     I believe this hymn is one of the most praise-filled hymns I have ever seen. The text implies not that we should praise God, but that everything on the Earth praises God no matter what. God instructs us to give everything back to Him, but how can things with out a voice give God praise? This hymn serves to show us that no matter what, whether it be a flowing river, a cloudy sky, or even just a simple sleeping animal, everything praises God because everything was created by God for that very purpose. Our purpose in life is to use our gifts that were given to us to praise God and to spread his Word.

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