While working on hymns for the Season of Creation, I was discussing modernisation of this hymn text in one of my online groups when somebody challenged me to stop worrying about Draper’s English translation (made for children) and go back to the original.
I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of this before! After all, I’ll occasionally spend a happy afternoon with a page of the Book of Kells and a Volgate / English translation of the Gospels, improving my reading of the 8th century Uncial script and attempting to revive my Latin skills…
I didn’t really think I had time for this though, I hadn’t begun the orchestration, and translating the text and paraphrasing it to fit the melody in time for St Francis’ Day seemed too much to ask, but I decided to track down the original text and bookmark it for when I had more time. And that’s when things got exciting.
Francis of Assisi didn’t write the Canticle of Creation for liturgical use, so it wasn’t in Latin. He wrote it for personal use in his native Umbrian dialect, the language of northern Italy in the 13th century, and a major contributor to modern Italian. As a voice student, I’d spent 2 years learning to translate Renaissance Italian poetry. That was a long time ago, but it linked strongly to the Umbrian text.
With only a few days to go, I was going to have to compromise. Cutting it down to 3 verses reduced the work load at every point of the project. Using Draper’s versification as a base gave me a structure which I could then enrich with elements from the original Canticle. So I dug deep and got to work.
As the deadline for lyric videos for our St Mark’s Online Service loomed, I called time on LASST, and submitted the video. But it really needed another day or two’s work, to bring it up to standard for publishing, and I couldn’t do that before St Francis’ Day, so I put it aside to finish later.
It seems really appropriate for Christ the King, so here it is finished off. I hope you can put it to good use with your congregation.
Listen to the Audio file here, or preview the SD version on YouTube.
Available as audio only, (with a text file for your convenience) or as a Lyric Video in two sizes, this orchestral setting in 3 verses is designed to be a comfortable sing for all congregations.
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