Most High, Omnipotent, Good Lord
Craig Phillips

Composer Craig Phillips
Text Canticle of the Sun, St. Francis of Assisi; tr. H.W. Robbins
Voicing SATB, organ
Topics Creation, Praise and Adoration
Price $2.95 (U.S.)
Released 3/10
Catalog no. 410-629 Difficulty Mod. diff.

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Text
Most High, omnipotent, good Lord,
to thee be ceaseless praise outpoured,
and blessing without measure.
From thee alone all creatures came:
no one is worthy thee to name.

My Lord be praised by brother sun
who through the skies his course doth run,
and shines in brilliant splendor:
with brightness he doth fill the day,
and signifies thy boundless sawy.

My Lord be praised by sister moon
and all the stars, that with her soon
will point the glit'ring heavens.
Let wind and air and cloud and calm
and weathers all, repeat the psalm.

By sister water be thou blessed,
most humble, useful, precious, chaste;
be praised by brother fire;
jocund is he, robust and bright,
and strong to lighten all the night.

By mother earth my Lord be praised;
governed by thee she hath upraised
what for our life is needful.
Sustained by thee, through every hour,
she bringeth forth fruit, herb, and flow'r.

For death our sister, praised be,
from whom no one alive can flee.
Woe to the unprepared!
But blest be they who do thy will
and follow thy commandments still.

Most High, omnipotent, good Lord
to thee be ceaseless praise outpoured,
and blessing without measure.
Let creatures all give thanks to thee,
and serve in great humility.

Alleluia.

--Canticle of the Sun, St. Francis of Assisi (ca. 1182-1226); tr. H.W. Robbins (1876-1952)

Description
This setting of the beloved "Canticle of the Sun" by St. Francis of Assisi incorporates a prominent and dramatic organ part. Phillips matches the many character changes in the text with his trademark seamless modulations. The anthem is cast in an arch form: after the more serene middle sections, the work ends as energetically as it began with a festive peal of Alleluias.

Review
"H.W. Robbins' translation of St. Francis of Assisi's 'Canticle of the sun' is widely familiar from its presence in the Hymnals of 1940 and 1982. This through-composed choral version presents the entire Hymnal text (hence the page count!), plus a brief but exuberant concluding Alleluia. A sparkling organ scale-figure ties the piece together, and the final stanza briefly reprises the opening before heading off to the conclusion, but otherwise the music responds closely and locally to the changing affect of the text. Even if your parish doesn't make much of the friar's October 4 commemoration, this would be a beautiful way to acknowledge the occasion musically. (I'm writing this on 'Earth Day,' which would obviously be an equally apt occasion for the piece!)." --AAM Journal, May/June 2010

 



 

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