St. Francis

Album: Hello Cruel World (2012)


  • Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) is one of the most venerated of all the Christian Saints. He preached that the world was created good and beautiful by God but suffers a need for redemption because of the sin of man. St. Francis considered all nature as the mirror of God and treated all creation with kindness. Many stories have been told of his ability to charm wild animals and one of the best known tales concerns a wolf that had been eating human beings. The gentle Assisi native intervened when the town wanted to kill the wolf and talked it into never killing again. The wolf became a pet of the townspeople who made sure that he always had plenty to eat. In 1980 Francis was designated patron saint of ecology by Pope John Paul II.
  • Gretchen Peters co-wrote this yearning track inspired by the medieval saint with country-folk troubadour Tom Russell. In 2008 Peters recorded a joint album with Russell titled One to the Heart, One to the Head.
  • The song originated with Russell, who was finishing up an album and had some song fragments left over. He sent them over to Peters including this track's first verse, which she immediately gravitated to. Speaking to Billboard magazine, Peters explained: "At the time, I got his email, I was at my house down in the panhandle in Florida writing for this album. The album has a lot to do with your ideas about faith and loss of faith - your world view when you're up against difficulty. There was also an undercurrent or a layer of that song that is about the earth and ecology. At that time when I was in Florida, the oil spill had happened. St. Francis is the patron saint of ecology for the earth, and that was swimming around in my head. To see that happen and feel so powerless over it were some of the reasons I said 'Let me take this song, and run with it."
  • So what sort of music did St. Francis listen to on his medieval iPod? Before his conversion, Francis of Assisi loved the songs of France, especially the free adventurous French troubadours who wandered through Europe. After he became a Christian, St Francis continued to enjoy jovial singing, and music played on the fiddle. He possessed no musical instrument so instead accompanied himself by sawing one stick with another. Francis is said to have written "Canticle of the Sun," which he and his fellow Friars would sing as they walked around preaching. The song praised God for: "Brother Sun, Sister Water and Mother Earth."


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Randy NewmanSongwriting Legends In Their Own Words

Newman makes it look easy these days, but in this 1974 interview, he reveals the paranoia and pressures that made him yearn for his old 9-5 job.

Classic MetalFact or Fiction

Ozzy, Guns N' Roses, Judas Priest and even Michael Bolton show up in this Classic Metal quiz.

Wedding Bell BluesSong Writing

When a song describes a wedding, it's rarely something to celebrate - with one big exception.

Barney Hoskyns Explores The Forgotten History Of Woodstock, New YorkSong Writing

Our chat with Barney Hoskyns, who covers the wild years of Woodstock - the town, not the festival - in his book Small Town Talk.

Harry ShearerSongwriter Interviews

Harry is Derek Smalls in Spinal Tap, Mark Shubb in The Folksmen, and Mr. Burns on The Simpsons.

Strange MagneticsSong Writing

How Bing Crosby, Les Paul, a US Army Signal Corps Officer, and the Nazis helped shape rock and Roll.