This poetic praise of God, reveals Francis’ vision of God, creation and the human soul.
Written in 1225, Francis’ companions tell us of the composition of the first part of this piece, verses 1-9, in which the saint sings the praises of creation in glorifying God. A short while later, after hearing of a quarrel that had broken out between the civil and religious authorities of Assisi, Francis asked the brothers to go before them singing these verses, but added two more, verses 10-11. He composed the final verses 12-13 on his death bed. Verse 14 may well be a refrain used after each verse of the entire Canticle.
Volume 1 of: Francis of Assisi Early Documents (1999) New City Press pg 113
1. Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honour, and all blessing,
2. To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no human is worthy to mention Your name.
3. Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day and through whom You give us light.
4. And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour;
and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.
5. Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.
6. Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather,
through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.
7. Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
8. Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night,
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
9. Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs.
10. Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulation.
11. Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned.
12. Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no one living can escape.
13. Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.
14.Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.