Peace is a frequent topic in the Bible. As well as emerging from our Lectionary readings, it gets its own Sunday during Advent. And this year, it also features as part of our Season of Creation.
Of course, as we’re leading up to celebrating the feast of St Francis of Assisi, the topic of peace immediately suggests singing the Prayer of St Francis. (Actually, he didn’t write it, but that’s what the text is known as.) The version of the prayer that we sing most frequently is still in copyright, so in my planning I wrote “St Francis / O WALY WALY”, referencing the version I learned as a teenager.
The tune probably originated in Scotland, but by the time it was published in a book of Somerset folk songs in 1901, it was already well established not only in Ireland and Wales, but at least as far as the Appalachians. It was rediscovered in the folk music revival as ‘The Water is Wide’, and many recordings were released in my childhood.
I was astonished to discover that this combination of text and melody is a Kiwi special. The rest of the world seems to have missed out on it, so all the more reason for me to include it in the Hymnody Project. It was printed in the Sing Now songbook we used for informal “youth group” worship, predating the Scripture in Song books. Unfortunately, I gave away my copy when we moved to Australia. I can’t find any record of who modified the text to fit this tune, and I think the melody we used was more closely related to ‘The Water is Wide’ than to the simplified hymn tune version in our hymnbooks, but I really liked how it flows with O WALY WALY.
Listen to the Audio file here, or preview the SD version on YouTube.
Short and meditative in 4 verses, Make me an Instrument of Peaceis available as audio only, or as a Lyric Video in two sizes, in a setting which is a comfortable sing for all congregations.
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