Back in 2004 I, along with two of my best friends and several friars from my province, happened to be in Assisi for the 750th anniversary of the dedication of the Basilica of St. Francis. In the piazza (photo above) below the basilica, on the night before the big celebratory liturgy presided over by the papal legate, a concert took place. The popular Italian musician and songwriter Angelo Branduardi performed selections from an EP dedicated to Francis of Assisi (remember that for Italians – even for secular Italians – Francis hold a very special place). One of my favorite songs is his Canticle of the Creatures. To watch a more recent version of Branduardi performing this piece live, watch below.
I showed this clip to my freshman foundations seminar students while we were studying Francis’s text in translation. I thought it might be good to gain a contemporary appreciation for how the text speaks poetically, musically and spiritually to people today. It is especially fitting to hear the Canticle sung in Italian because, as you might already know, Francis’s Canticle was the first such work composed in the vernacular of his day, a form of early Umbrian Italian.
Because I woke up this morning thinking of this song, I share it now with you. On a related note, I got a kick out of the fact that Italian MTV also featured Branduardi performing this song. It’s very different from our U.S. MTV with programs like TRL featuring Justin Beiber and other pop stars of the moment. Here’s the link to the Italian MTV clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfanZqUEjM0