Prayer of Saint Francis

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St. Francis on a painted altarpiece by Gerard David (early 1500s)

The anonymous text that is usually called the Prayer of Saint Francis (or Peace Prayer, or Simple Prayer for Peace, or Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace) is a widely known Christian prayer for peace. Often associated with the 13th-century Italian saint Francis of Assisi, but entirely absent from his writings, the prayer in its present form has not been traced back further than 1912. Its first known occurrence was in French, in a small spiritual magazine called La Clochette (The Little Bell), published by a Catholic Church organization in Paris named La Ligue de la Sainte-Messe (The League of the Holy Mass). The author's name was not given, although it may have been the founder of La Ligue, Father Esther Bouquerel. The prayer was heavily publicized during both World War I and World War II. It is frequently set to music by notable songwriters and quoted by prominent leaders, and its broadly inclusive language has found appeal with diverse faiths.[1]:21,27–28[2][3]

Text[edit]

French original, English translation[edit]

In most of the published versions of the prayer, the text is abridged, paraphrased, and/or copyrighted. Below is the complete original text from its earliest known publication (1912, in French, copyright expired), alongside a line-by-line English translation:

Seigneur, faites de moi un instrument de votre paix.
Là où il y a de la haine, que je mette l'amour.
Là où il y a l'offense, que je mette le pardon.
Là où il y a la discorde, que je mette l'union.
Là où il y a l'erreur, que je mette la vérité.
Là où il y a le doute, que je mette la foi.
Là où il y a le désespoir, que je mette l'espérance.
Là où il y a les ténèbres, que je mette votre lumière.
Là où il y a la tristesse, que je mette la joie.
Ô Maître, que je ne cherche pas tant
à être consolé qu'à consoler,
à être compris qu'à comprendre,
à être aimé qu'à aimer,
car c'est en donnant qu'on reçoit,
c'est en s'oubliant qu'on trouve,
c'est en pardonnant qu'on est pardonné,
c'est en mourant qu'on ressuscite à l'éternelle vie.
[4]

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offense, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.

Consistency with Saint Francis?[edit]

The Franciscan Order does not include the prayer in its official "Prayers of St. Francis",[5] and a friar/historian has noted that the phrasing of the first half of the text is atypically self-oriented for St. Francis.[6] However, the Order often recommends a version of the 1912 text as a "Simple prayer for peace",[7] and the second half does have similarities to this saying of Blessed Giles of Assisi, one of the saint's close companions:

Blessed is he who loves and does not therefore desire to be loved;
Blessed is he who fears and does not therefore desire to be feared;
Blessed is he who serves and does not therefore desire to be served;
Blessed is he who behaves well toward others and does not desire that others behave well toward him;
And because these are great things, the foolish do not rise to them.[8]

Musical settings[edit]

Sebastian Temple (1967)[edit]

The most-prominent hymn version of the prayer is "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace", or simply "Prayer of St. Francis", adapted and set to a chant-like melody in 1967 by South African songwriter Sebastian Temple (Johann Sebastian von Tempelhoff, 1928–1997), who had become a third order Franciscan. The hymn is an anthem of the Royal British Legion and is usually sung at its annual Festival of Remembrance. In 1997 it was part of the Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, and was sung by Sinéad O'Connor on the Princess Diana tribute album.[10] The hymn was also sung for the religious wedding ceremony of Prince Albert II of Monaco to South African Charlene Wittstock in 2011.[11]

Others[edit]

Additional settings of the prayer by notable musicians include those by:

History[edit]

Christian Renoux, a history professor at the University of Orléans, published in French in 2001 a book-length study of the prayer and its origins, clearing up much of the confusion that had accumulated previously.[1] The Franciscan journal Frate Francesco and the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano published articles in Italian summarizing the book's findings,[3][29] and Renoux published an online abstract in English at The Franciscan Archive.[2]

La Clochette (1912)[edit]

The earliest known record of the prayer[1]:21 is its appearance, as "a beautiful prayer to say during Mass", in the December 1912 issue of the small devotional French Catholic publication La Clochette, "the bulletin of the League of the Holy Mass".[4] Although the prayer was published anonymously, Renoux concluded that, with few exceptions, the texts in La Clochette were generally written by its founding editor, Father Esther Bouquerel (1855–1923).[1]:27–28

Mistaken attribution (1916) to 11th-century William the Conqueror[edit]

In 1915, Marquis Stanislas de La Rochethulon, president of the Anglo-French association Souvenir Normand, which called itself "a work of peace and justice inspired by the testament of William the Conqueror, who is considered to be the ancestor of all the royal families of Europe", sent this prayer to Pope Benedict XV in the midst of World War I.[2] The Pope had an Italian translation published on the front page of L'Osservatore Romano on 20 January 1916. It appeared under the heading, "The prayers of Souvenir Normand for peace", with a jumbled explanation: "Souvenir Normand has sent the Holy Father the text of some prayers for peace. We have pleasure in presenting in particular the prayer addressed to the Sacred Heart, inspired by the testament of William the Conqueror."[30] On 28 January 1916, the newspaper La Croix reprinted, in French, the article from L'Osservatore Romano, with exactly the same heading and explanation.[31] La Rochethulon wrote to the newspaper to clarify that it was not a prayer of Souvenir Normand; but he failed to mention La Clochette, the first publication in which it had appeared.[3] Because of its appearance in L'Osservatore Romano and La Croix as a simple prayer for peace during World War I, the prayer became widely known.[2]

Mistaken attribution (c.1927) to 13th-century Saint Francis[edit]

Around 1918, Franciscan Father Étienne Benoît reprinted the "Prayer for Peace" in French, without attribution, on the back of a mass-produced holy card depicting his Order's founder, the inspirational peacemaker from the Crusades era, Saint Francis.[32] The prayer was circulating in the United States by January 1927, when its first known English version (slightly abridged from the 1912 French original) appeared in the Quaker magazine Friends' Intelligencer under the misattributed and misspelled title "A prayer of St. Francis of Assissi".[33][34] The saint's namesake American archbishop and military vicar Francis Spellman distributed millions of copies of the "Prayer of St. Francis" during World War II, and the next year it was read into the Congressional Record by Senator Albert W. Hawkes. As a friar later summarized the relationship between the prayer and St. Francis: "One can safely say that although he is not the author, it resembles him and would not have displeased him."[32]

Other notable invocations[edit]

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Memorial engraving of global religious leaders at the first "World Day of Prayer for Peace", in Assisi

The Prayer of St. Francis has often been cited with national or international significance, in the spirit of service to others:

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Renoux, Christian (2001). La prière pour la paix attribuée à saint François: une énigme à résoudre (in French). Paris: Éditions franciscaines. ISBN 978-2-85020-096-0. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Renoux, Christian. "The Origin of the Peace Prayer of St. Francis". The Franciscan Archive. Retrieved 25 May 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Piccuci, Egidio (19–20 January 2009). "Le origini del testo attribuito a san Francesco d'Assisi: L'Osservatore Romano e la vera storia della Preghiera semplice". L'Osservatore Romano (in Italian). p. 6. 
  4. ^ a b Bouquerel, Esther, ed. (December 1912). "Belle prière à faire pendant la Messe". La Clochette (in French) (12): 285. Retrieved 7 March 2017. 
  5. ^ Francis of Assisi. "Prayers of St. Francis" (PDF). Ordo Fratrum Minorum: Franciscan Friars. Retrieved 26 April 2017. 
  6. ^ Thompson, Augustine (2012). Francis of Assisi: A New Biography. Cornell University Press. p. ix. ISBN 978-0-8014-5070-9. Retrieved 19 March 2017. Noble as its sentiments are, Francis would not have written such a piece, focused as it is on the self, with its constant repetition of the pronouns 'I' and 'me', the words 'God' and 'Jesus' never appearing once. 
  7. ^ Perry, Michael A.; Patton, Francesco (27 November 2016). "Children praying for peace: Letter from the Minister General and from the Custos of the Holy Land". Ordo Fratrum Minorum: Franciscan Friars. Retrieved 26 April 2017. 
  8. ^ Giles of Assisi (1907) [orig. 13th century]. The Golden Sayings of Blessed Brother Giles. Translated by Robinson, Paschal. Dolphin Press. p. 5. Retrieved 27 September 2015. 
  9. ^ Temple, Sebastian. "Prayer of St. Francis" on YouTube (official link). Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  10. ^ "Sebastian Temple: Songs, Bio". Oregon Catholic Press. Retrieved 5 March 2017. 
  11. ^ "Royal Wedding: Live broadcast". Prince's Palace of Monaco. 2 July 2011. Archived from the original on 5 July 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  12. ^ Bliss, Arthur (October 1973). "Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi". Musical Times. 114 (1568): 1–4. doi:10.2307/955423. JSTOR 955423. 
  13. ^ Brennan, Maire. "Peacemaker". Cross Rhythms. Retrieved 10 March 2017. 
  14. ^ "The Burns Sisters, 'Out of the Blue'". Rambles.net. Retrieved 10 March 2017. 
  15. ^ Clarke, F.R.C. "Prayer of St. Francis". Leslie Music Publications. Retrieved 10 March 2017. 
  16. ^ Clausen, René. "Prayer of St. Francis". Shawnee Press. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  17. ^ a b Donovan. "An Instrument of Your Peace". Franciscan Friars of Canada. Retrieved 4 March 2017. 
  18. ^ Wilson, Rich (2009). Lifting Shadows: The Authorized Biography of Dream Theater. Essential Works Limited. pp. 371–372. ISBN 978-1-906615-02-4. 
  19. ^ Foley, John. "Peace Prayer". Oregon Catholic Press. Retrieved 7 March 2017. 
  20. ^ Jordan, Marc. "Instrument of Peace". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  21. ^ Kaur, Singh. "Instruments of Peace". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  22. ^ Kaur, Snatam. "Servant of Peace". Moved By Love. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  23. ^ Maher, Matt. "Instrument" on YouTube (official link). Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  24. ^ McDonald, Mary. "Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace". Choral Tracks. Retrieved 29 March 2017. 
  25. ^ McLachlan, Sarah. "Prayer of St. Francis" on YouTube (official link). Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  26. ^ A Ragamuffin Band. "Make Me an Instrument" on YouTube (official link). Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  27. ^ Rutter, John. "Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 7 March 2017. 
  28. ^ Talbot, John Michael. "Peace Prayer". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  29. ^ Messa, Pietro (November 2002). "Recensioni: Christian Renoux, La prière pour la paix attribuée à saint François: une énigme à résoudre". Frate Francesco (in Italian). 68 (2): 413–416. Retrieved 28 April 2017. 
  30. ^ "Le preghiere del 'Souvenir Normand' per la pace". L'Osservatore Romano (in Italian). 20 January 1916. p. 1. 
  31. ^ "Les prières du 'Souvenir Normand' pour la paix". La Croix (in French). 28 January 1916. p. 6. Retrieved 6 March 2017. 
  32. ^ a b Marty, Christophe-André (January 2014). "La Prière pour la Paix". Le Gallican (in French). Retrieved 6 March 2017. 
  33. ^ "A prayer of St. Francis of Assissi". Friends' Intelligencer. Philadelphia: Religious Society of Friends. 84 (4): 66. 22 January 1927. Retrieved 27 September 2015. 
  34. ^ O'Toole, Garson (22 December 2011). "Prayer Credited to St. Francis of Assisi". Quote Investigator. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  35. ^ Pope John Paul II (27 October 1986). "To the Representatives of the Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of the World Religions, for the World Day of Prayer". The Holy See. Retrieved 7 March 2017. 
  36. ^ Pope Francis (16 March 2013). "Audience to Representatives of the Communications Media". The Holy See. Retrieved 17 March 2017. 
  37. ^ Madre Teresa (TV documentary). RAI. 2003. Retrieved 27 September 2015. 
  38. ^ "The real prayer of Francis of Assisi". The Daily Telegraph. 12 April 2013. Retrieved 6 March 2015. 
  39. ^ "Margaret Thatcher: Her Legacy" on YouTube (official link). The Wall Street Journal. 8 April 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  40. ^ "Pelosi takes the helm in triumph". Los Angeles Times. 5 January 2007. Retrieved 6 March 2015. 
  41. ^ "This Is the Prayer John Boehner Read at His Resignation". Time. 25 September 2015. Retrieved 27 September 2015. 
  42. ^ Wilson, Bill (1953). Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (PDF). Alcoholics Anonymous. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-916856-01-4. 

Further reading[edit]