San Damiano Each Year Celebrates “Canticle of the Creatures”
St. Francis of Assisi between 1224 and 1225 wrote the famous Canticle of Creatures at the Friary of San Damiano,. Work is also known as "the Canticle of Brother Sun" and marks the first steps in the development of the Italian language. It is a poem, a hymn of praise of God and of all creatures.
It is a piece of music that makes us peer into the heart of Francis, who is reconciled with God and calls brother and sister every creature even Sister Death!
Of this hymn of praise, however, we have only the text: Francis and his friars sang the Canticle of Creatures but we do not have the music. It has been the dream of musicians and Franciscans to hear the original notes as sung by St Francis. But the melody has been forgotten and it was never written down.
Friar Alessandro Brustenghi, O.F.M. Friar Minor of the Seraphic Province of Assisi, and internationally known tenor, has embarked on a quest to discover the hidden melody of the Canticle of the Creatures.
Each year, at San Damiano Friary - where it was composed – the Feast of the Canticle is celebrated. This year the festival was enriched by the presentation on Saturday, September 10, of Friar Alessandro’s book, “Laudato si’ mi’ Signore”.
With the charming night background of San Damiano Friar Alessandro gave a concert of a selection of the most beautiful Franciscan songs of praise.
Friar Alessandro’s study of the Canticle begins with the oldest manuscript of the Canticle with its text and space for the notes that were never written in.
Is it possible that the Canticle was transformed into a hymn of praise? Or actually merged into more than one hymn of praise? Are there some clues for reconstructing it? Helene Nolthenius, over thirty years ago, said that everything was plausible, but got no further. Taking, however, her insights one can make some further suggestions by putting on the clothes of a medieval composer, surrounded by the music and poetry of that time, taking pen and paper and the same steps of artists of the 1200's.
Thus concludes Friar Alessandro - who, not without imagination and creativity, has proposed a solution that at least has the echo of a possible melody of the Franciscan Canticle of the Creatures. Is it the original? The original has never been found but the fact remains to this research has the charm of making one listen to the praises of the Little Poor Man's and the songs of praise of his time.
The details of this research are contained in the book “Laudato si’ mi’ Signore” ("Praised be My Lord") published by Edizioni Porziuncola.