The Canticle of Brother Sunby Francis of Assisi
English version by Ivan M. Granger
Original Language Italian
My Lord most high, all-powerful, all-good,
Celebration, light, and all sweet blessings are yours,
No man speaks
who can speak your Name.
Praise to you, my Lord, and to all beings of your creation!
Praise especially to brother sun,
who fills the day with light
-- through whom you shine!
Beautiful and bright, magnificent with splendor,
He shows us your Face.
Praise to my Lord for sister moon
and for the stars.
You have formed them in the firmament,
fine and rare and fair.
Praise to you, Lord, for brother wind,
for the air, for the clouds,
for fair days and every turn of weather
-- through which you feed the world.
Praise to my Lord for sister water,
precious and pure, who selflessly serves all.
Praise to my Lord for brother fire,
through whom you fill the dark with light.
Lovely is he in his delight, mighty and strong.
Praise to my Lord for our sister, mother earth,
who nourishes us and surrounds us
in a world ripe with fruit, pregnant
with grassy fields,
spangled with flowers.
Praise to my Lord for those seeking your love,
who discover within themselves forgiveness,
rejecting neither frailty nor sorrow.
Enduring in serenity, they are blessed,
For they shall be crowned by your hand, Most High.
Praise to my Lord for our sister death,
the body's death,
whom none avoid.
A great sadness for those who die having missed life's mark;
Yet blessed they whose way
is your most holy will --
Having died once, the second death
does them no ill.
Offer holy blessings to my Lord!
In gratitude, selflessly offer yourself to him.
|-- from The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology), Edited by Ivan M. Granger|
/ Image by rkramer62 /
St. Francis composed his masterpiece, the Canticle of Brother Sun, in three parts. The first part in praise of the beauty and holiness of nature as a reflection of the Divine, was written in the Spring of 1225, immediately after he received the stigmata during an extended meditation retreat among a group of caves.
The second section, the segment on forgiveness and peace, was composed soon after, perhaps in response to the squabbling of political and religious authorities in Assisi.
The final verses were written late the following year as St. Francis was dying, in which he seems to be greeting "sister death."
This hymn is one of the first great works written in Italian. At the time, Latin was the language of the Church and of learning. Yet, as part of Francis's humility and affinity with the common people, he composed this praise poem in simple Italian so all could be inspired by it.
Praise for brother sun and sister moon, for the living wind and water and fire and earth. Praise for love and peace, without which the living awareness collapses to barrenness. And praise to death, too, who, in the fulness of time, brings completion and life's final initiation. Through this poem we witness the whole pageant of life as it expresses itself through us and all the world.