431. All Creatures of Our God and King

1 All creatures of our God and King,
lift up your voice with us and sing:
alleluia, alleluia!
O burning sun with golden beam,
and shining moon with silver gleam,
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

2 O rushing wind so wild and strong,
white clouds that sail in heaven along,
alleluia, alleluia!
New rising dawn, in praise rejoice,
you lights of evening, find a voice:
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

3 Cool flowing water, pure and clear,
make music for your Lord to hear,
alleluia, alleluia!
Fierce fire, so masterful and bright
providing us with warmth and light,
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

4 Earth ever fertile, day by day
bring forth your blessings on our way;
alleluia, alleluia!
All flowers and fruits that in you grow,
let them his glory also show:
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

5 People and nations, take your part;
sing praise to God with all your heart:
alleluia, alleluia!
Let all things their Creator bless
and worship him in lowliness:
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Text Information
First Line: All creatures of our God and King
Title: All Creatures of Our God and King
Author: Francis of Assisi (1225)
Translator: William H. Draper
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: LM with alleluias
Scripture: Job 12:7-10; Psalm 148
Topic: Praise & Adoration; Songs for Children: Hymns; Creation and Providence
Language: English
Tune Information
Name: LASST UNS ERFREUEN
Adapter and Harmonizer: Ralph Vaughan Williams (1906)
Meter: LM with alleluias
Key: E♭ Major
Source: Auserlesen Catholische Geistliche Kirchengesäng, Cologne, 1623
Copyright: By permission of Oxford University Press


Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Job 12:7-10, Ps. 148:3
st. 2 = Ps. 148:8
st. 4 = Ps. 148:9
st. 5 = Ps. 148:11-13

Virtually blind and unable to endure daylight, St. Francis (b, Assisi, Italy, c. 1182; d. Assisi, 1226) wrote this nature hymn during the summer of 1225 in the seclusion of a hut near San Damiano, Italy. The text is a meditation on Psalm 145 (although it also reflects Psalm 148 as well as the Canticle of the Three Young Men in the Furnace-an apocryphal addition to Dan. 3). Originally in Italian ("Laudato sia Dio mio Signore"), the text is known as the "Song of All Creatures" and as the "Canticle of the Sun."

St. Francis of Assisi is universally known for preaching to the birds and urging them to praise God. But his whole life was one of service to God and humanity. The son of a wealthy cloth merchant, Francis led a carefree, adventurous life as a youth, but after an illness and a pilgrimage to Rome in 1205, he voluntarily began a traveling life of poverty. He restored run-down chapels and shrines, preached, sang devotional "laudi spirituali" (adapted from Italian folk songs), and helped the poor and the lepers. Other young men joined him, and Francis founded the order named after him; the Franciscans were approved by the Pope in 1210. Legends about Francis abound, and various stories, prayers, and visions are attributed to him.

William H. Draper (b. Kenilworth, Warwickshire, England, 1855; d. Clifton, Bristol, England, 1933) translated–or rather paraphrased–the text (which appears in virtually all English hymnals) for a children's Whitsuntide (Pentecost) Festival in Leeds, England, around 1910. Originally in seven stanzas, Draper's translation was published with the tune LASST UNS ERFREUEN in the Public School Hymn Book (1919). The modernized version in the Psalter Hymnal omits the original stanza 6 (about death) and combines the original stanzas 5 and 7 into one (now st. 5).

Educated at Cheltenham College and Keble College, Oxford, England, Draper was ordained in the Church of England in 1880. He served at least six churches during his lifetime, including the Temple Church in London (1919-1930). He is known for his sixty translations of Latin, Greek, and German hymns, many published in The Victoria Book of Hymns (1897) and Hymns for Holy Week (1899).

"All Creatures" is a catalog text that enumerates various features of the creation and summons all to praise the Lord with their "alleluias." Although not found in the original text, the "alleluias" make splendid sense and are necessary for the tune. Repeating the words "O praise him" each stanza emphasizes the cosmic praise of all creation: the sun and moon (st. 1); wind, clouds, and light (st. 2); water and fire (st. 3); the earth and its produce (st. 4); all creatures (st. 5).

Liturgical Use:
Many occasions as a strong opening hymn of praise; a congregational call to worship; springtime prayer services for crops/industry and for harvest thanksgiving (especially st. 4); festive processionals (use a concertato arrangement with brass and choral parts).

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

LASST UNS ERFREUEN derives its opening line and several other melodic ideas from GENEVAN 68 (68). The tune was first published with the Easter text "Lasst uns erfreuen herzlich sehr" in the Jesuit hymnal Ausserlesene Catlwlische Geistliche Kirchengesänge (Cologne, 1623). LASST UNS ERFREUEN appeared in later hymnals with variations in the "alleluia" phrases.

The setting is by Ralph Vaughan Williams (PHH 316); first published in The English Hymnal (1906), it has become the most popular version of LASST UNS ERFREUEN. In that hymnal the tune was set to Athelstan Riley's "Ye watchers and ye holy ones" (thus it is sometimes known as VIGILES ET SANCTI).

In this hymn a great text is matched by an equally strong and effective tune. Try these two possibilities of antiphonal singing: divide stanzas between women and men, or assign the verses to one group and the "alleluias" to another. Accompanists can signal such antiphonal effects in their use of varied registration. Registration changes also will help interpret the text; for example, the third stanza can begin with a lighter registration and move to a "blazing" sound on the second half.

Try having the congregation sing some stanzas unaccompanied but add organ (with full stops) at the "alleluias." Or, for a fine effect, have the congregation sing some stanzas in unison with accompaniment and the choir sing the "alleluias" in harmony unaccompanied, as indicated in the Psalter Hymnal. It is musically correct and pastorally wise to observe a fermata at the end of the second "alleluia" on the second system by turning that half note into a whole note. No ritard is necessary at the end of the hymn; it is built right into the final "alleluia" phrase. Try adding instruments to enhance this magnificent tune; there are several fine concertato versions in print that involve trumpets and/or full brass scoring.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


Media
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