Sunday, May 15, 2016

All Creatures of Our God and King

All Creatures of Our God and King
By: St. Francis of Assisi

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! 

Thou rushing wind that art so strong, ye clouds that sail in Heaven along, O praise Him! Alleluia! Thou rising morning praise rejoice, ye lights of evening find a voice. O praise Him! O praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Let all thing 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! O praise Him! O praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! 

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So many stories have arisen around St. Francis of Assisi that it's difficult to separate truth from fiction. We know he was born in 1182 in central Italy, son of a rich merchant. After a scanty education, Francis joined the army and was captured in war. He came to Christ shortly after his release, renounced his wealth, and began traveling about the countryside, preaching the gospel, living simply, seeking to make Christ real to everyone he met.

Francis loved nature, and many stories spotlight his interaction with animals. Once as he hiked through Italy's Spoleto Valley, he came upon a flock of birds. When they didn't fly away, he decided to preach them a little sermon: "My brother and sister birds," he reportedly said, "you should praise your Creator and always love Him. He gave you feathers for clothes, wings to fly, and all other things you need. It is God who made your home in thin, pure air. Without sowing or reaping, you receive God's guidance and protection." The flock, it is said, then flew off rejoicing. 

That perspective is reflected in a hymn Francis composed just before his death in 1225, called, "Cantico di fratre sole" - "Song of Brother Sun." It exhorts all creation to worship God. The sun and moon. All the birds. All the clouds. Wind and fire. All men of tender heart. All creatures of our God and King. 

Though written in 1225, an English version didn't appear until 1919, when Rev. William H. Draper decided to use it for a children's worship festival in Leeds, England. But is it sound theology to exhort birds and billowing clouds to lift their voices in praise? Yes! "All Creatures of our God and King" simply restates an older hymn - Psalms 148:1-13 - which says:

Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the Lord from the heavens: praise him in the heights. Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts. Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. Praise him, ye heaven of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were created. He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass. Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps: Fire, and hail; snow, and vapours; stormy wind fulfilling his word: Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars: Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl: Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth: Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children: Let them praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.
Taken from "Then Sings My Soul" by Robert J. Morgan
 
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With the eternal perspective in view,
Ashley

2 comments:

  1. I love this hymn!! Beautiful! :) Thank you for a lovely post.

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  2. I love hymns, and reading some of the stories of the people who've written them. I was playing some from our hymnbook on our piano recently, and was considering the words from many of them that were written many years ago; the thought came to me how very special it is that these words that they wrote have been an encouragement and blessing to thousands of God's children through the years, and what a thrilling thought for those of us who know the Lord to one day meet all of those children of God who wrote these hymns! Thanks for sharing this post.

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