- Orchestral/Large Orchestra
- Choral Music
Saint Francis of Assisi (1186-1226) was said to have been so saintly that he was called ‘the other Christ’. His canticle hymn in praise of ‘all created things’ is, in its pure simplicity and humility, a source of great inspiration. This setting uses parts of the text incorporated into a ceremonial Masque of five scenes, all set in the open air. Each scene follows without a break.
Scene 1 is an orchestral portrait of the ancient city of Assisi at sunrise, the light breaking in upon a heavy darkness and showing Saint Francis, along among rocks and grassland in the growing heat, inspired by the vastness of the world about him.
Scene 2 begins his prayer in praise of the glory of God; of brother sun who brings light; of sister moon and the stars that make the heavens clear to us; of brother air and the wind and all weathers; of the chaste riser water and brother fire who illuminate the night with joy and vigour; and of mother earth from whom we have the fruits and flowers.
Scene 3 is an interruption of the Saint’s prayer as hundreds of birds darken the sky, flying in all directions and chattering, actions over which only God has any control.
Scene 4, summoned by the fanfare of trumpets from all sides, the Saint produces a sudden outburst of praise in God for all those who forgive because of divine love and bear infirmity and trials - they will be crowned with peace.
Scene 5 shows Saint Francis kneeling in humility with the birds encircling his head. H praises god and sister death, from whom no living creature escapes; yet for those who live by god’s holy wishes, the second death will not harm them.
This is the second use of the canticle Standford has made; an earlier setting (1976) is for solo voice and string orchestra entitled ‘Cantico delle creature’.