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1226 : ST FRANCIS OF ASSISI

St Francis of Assisi – a famous Christian saint who lived in Italy – wrote his hymn Altissimu omnipotente (‘Canticle of the Sun’) in the last year of his life. The text draws heavily on Psalm 148, but it also reflects Francis’ love for nature as the text calls on all things to join together in the praise of God. The hymn has been translated into many languages. The English translation used in many hymnals currently in use was by done by William Draper, a Church of England clergyman. This version is mostly associated with a tune of 17th century tune from Friederich Spee’s collection Auserlesene, Catholische, Geistliche Kirchengesang. More recently John Rutter set the text to music as an anthem. The hymn version has appeared several times in popular culture: Mr Bean sings it (or parts of it, at least) in the first episode of the television series, Mr Bean; and David Crowder included a cover version of it on a 2002 album.

Francis of Assisi is also attributed as the writer of the hymn ‘Make me a channel of Thy Peace’, although this is not certain.

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