Poem: St. Francis

Friday is the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi.  This crude vernacular verse--sometimes described as a piece of rhyming prose-- is written in Umbrian, an Italian dialect distinct from but not too different from the Florentine Tuscan that Dante made  the language of Italian literature

Laudes Creaturarum

ALTISSIMU omnipotente, bon signore,
tue so le laude, la gloria e l’ onore et onne benedictione:
ad te solu, altissimu, se confanno,
et nullu homo ene dignu te mentovare.
Laudatu si’, mi signore, cum tucte le tue creature,
spetialmente messor lu frate sole,
lo quale lu jorno allumeni per nui;
et ello è bellu e radiante cum grande splendore:
de te, altissimu, porta significatione.
Laudatu si’, mi signore, per sora luna e le stelle;
in celu l’ ài formate clarite et pretiose et belle.
Laudatu si’, mi signore, per frate ventu,
e per aëre et nubilo e sereno et onne tempu,
per le quale a le tue creature dai sustentamentu.
Laudatu si’, mi signore, per sor acqua,
la quale è molto utile e humele e pretïosa e casta.
Laudatu si’, mi signore, per frate focu,
per lu quale n’ allumeni la nocte,
ed ellu è bellu e jocondu e robustoso e forte.
Laudatu si’, mi signore, per sora nostra matre terra,
la quale ne sustenta e guverna,
e produce diversi fructi e colorati flori et herba.
Laudatu si’, mi signore, per quilli che perdonano per lo tuo amore,
e sostengo infirmitate e tribulatione:
beati quilli ke le sosteranno in pace,
ka da te, altissimu, siranno incoronati.
Laudatu si’, mi signore, per nostra sora morte corporale,
de la quale nullu homo vivente po skampare:
guai a quilli ke morrano in peccato mortale;
beati quilli ke se trovarà ne le tue sanctissime voluntati,
ka la morte secunda nol farrà male.
Laudatu e benedicite lu mi signore et rengratiate
et serviateli cum grande humiltate.

Canticle of the Sun

Oh, Most High, Almighty, Good Lord God, to Thee belong praise, glory, honour and all blessing.
Praised be my Lord God, with all His creatures, and especially our brother the Sun, who brings us the day and who brings us the light: fair is he, and he shines with a very great splendour.
Oh Lord, he signifies us to Thee!
Praised be my Lord for our sister the Moon, and for the stars, the which He has set clear and lovely in the heaven.
Praised be my Lord for our brother the Wind, and for air and clouds, calms and all weather, by which Thou upholdest life and all creatures.
Praised be my Lord for our sister Water, who is very serviceable to us, and humble and precious and clean.
Praised be my Lord for our brother Fire, through whom Thou givest us light in the darkness; and he is bright and pleasant and very mighty and strong.
Praised be my Lord for our mother the Earth, the which doth sustain us and keep us, and bringeth forth divers fruits and flowers of many colours, and grass.
Praised be my Lord for all those who pardon one another for love's sake, and who endure weakness and tribulation: blessed are they who peacefully shall endure, for Thou, Oh Most High, will give them a crown.
Praised be my Lord for our sister, the death of the body, from which no man escapeth. Woe to him who dieth in mortal sin. Blessed are those who die in Thy most holy will, for the second death shall have no power to do them harm.
Praise ye and bless the Lord, and give thanks to Him and serve Him with great humility.

All Creatures of our God and King

A version written for a children's festival by W.H. Draper
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 moon, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!

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.

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.

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!

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.

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!

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Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

2 Responses

  1. Harry Colin says:

    Thanks for sharing these on a very special day, especially for anyone with any connection to the Franciscans of various stripes.

    Chesterton’s first book after his entry into the Church was his biography of Francis; I think we can view that as both an act of gratitude to the saint and a realization that Chesterton also saw himself as Francis did – Jongleur de Dieu.

  2. David Wihowski says:

    Thanks for posting the original text. I know enough Latin and Italian to trippingly read it, crudely understand most of it and gain a little appreciation for the poetry. I enjoyed the Arnold version as well.