STJ#1066, O Brother Sun

Rejected intro paragraphs:

This makes me think of Greg Greenway, Joe Jencks, and Pat Wictor – the members of the musical group Brother Sun. Except they’ve broken up now, and any memory I have of them has nothing to do with the song.

It’s nice to have a song that’s good to call the directions with…except…wait… huh. I don’t know how you’d do that physically. Never mind.

Let’s start right off with the ugly truth: there’s a lot of binary language. Because I am Captain Obvious.

Who doesn’t love a Scottish melody – because if it isn’t Scottish, it’s crap! Yeah, now I’m just getting silly. Plus, actor/comedian Mike Myers is notoriously a massive, impossible jerk and that’s why he doesn’t make movies anymore.

Well, folks, I’m out of ideas. This song doesn’t move me one way or another, and I can’t seem to find a way in. So… let’s just star. This song, by Sharon Anway, has some nice metaphors for elements of life…

O Brother Sun, you bring us light, all shining ‘round in fiery might.
O Sister Moon, you heal and bless, your beauty shines in tenderness.
O Brother Wind, you sweep the hills, your mighty breath both freshens and fills.
O Sister Water, you cleanse and flow through rivers and streams, in ice and snow.

O Brother Fire, you warm our night with all your dancing colored light.
O Sister Earth, you feed all things, all birds, all creatures, all scales and wings.
O Sister Death, you meet us here and take us to our God so near.
O God of Life, we give you praise for all your creatures, for all your ways.

…which are, by and large, the work of Francis of Assisi. Now normally I’d be cooing over stuff by this particular monk/mystic/saint, because I was born on his feast day and tend to like his mystic writings. But this one has always left me cold. Anway’s setting doesn’t help. The fact that it’s a list doesn’t help either. When we talk about hymns doing some work to get us from one state to another, this one gets me from unchecked-off list to checked-off list without anything actually being accomplished.

Ho hum.

And I’m very likely alone on this. That’s fine. I’m not a fan of it, I struggle to find a way to use it. But blessed are those who do.

One Comment

  1. Just happened to click on this as a first for this blog, but I wanted to mention that this song is based on St. Francis of Assisi’s “Canticle of the Sun,” which is arguably the first every poem written in the vernacular Italian language, and also the first time in the Western theological tradition where d/Death is greeted as a friend/sibling in service of god and in concert with life. So, there is some real richness here.

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