“The one who sings, prays twice.” St. Augustine of Hippo

By: Louie Bailey

One of my very favorite hymns is “All Creatures of Our God and King,” attributed to St. Francis of Assisi circa 1225.  Although it was not published until 400 years after his death, it is one of the great hymns of all time. I learned it when I was 9 years old in Junior Choir and it has played a significant role in my vocational calling and spiritual formation through the years.

All creatures of our God and King, lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia, Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam, thou silver moon with softer gleam!
O praise him! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong, ye clouds that sail in heaven along,
O praise him! Alleluia!
Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice, ye lights of evening, find a voice!

Thou flowing water, pure and clear, Make music for thy Lord to hear,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright, That givest us both warmth and light.

And all those of tender heart, forgiving others, take your part,
O sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear, Praise God and on him cast your care!

Let all things their Creator bless, and worship God in humbleness,
O praise him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son, and praise the Spirit, Three in One!

As our Crescent Hill congregation sang this so powerfully two Sundays ago with a wonderful descant by John Rutter, I could not help but think of a Jewish prayer that expresses similar sentiments about prayer and its all-encompassing parameters:

It is not we alone who pray, all things pray.
All things pour forth their souls.
The heavens pray, the earth prays,
every creature and every living thing prays.
In all life there is longing.
Creation itself is but a longing,
a prayer to The Almighty.
What are the clouds, the rising of the and setting of the sun,
the soft radiance of the moon, and the gentleness of the night?
What are the flashes of the human heart?
They are all prayers---
        the outpouring of boundless longing for God.      Mishkahn T’filah (Gates of Prayer)

What great gifts God has given us in music and prayer. May we always use our voices and hearts to
sing and pray to the One who created us and gives us life.
What hymns or prayers have contributed to your spiritual formation? I would be delighted if you would share those with me.