Francis Month Free Song: St. Francis by Gretchen Peters

by Sister Julie Ann on October 1, 2013

In this Year of Faith and in this month celebrating St. Francis, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity offer a free music download St. Francis by Gretchen Peters. Challenging us always to preach the Gospel at all times, this poor man of Assisi’s spirituality remains vital in today’s reality.

St.-Francis-of-AssisiChrist, sent by His Father, came among us to establish the Kingdom of God and to reveal the mystery of His Father. He is the source and foundation of the whole apostolate of the Church. As we respond to His summons to make His mission our own, we work with all Christians to bring His message and grace to all persons and to permeate the world with His Spirit.” (FSCC Constitutions)

As we each do our part to rebuild the Church through our own gifts and talents, St. Francis, pray for us!

Gretchen PetersI co-wrote this song with Tom Russell after receiving an email with some lyrical fragments from him, among them the opening lines, “Saint Francis walking on the water/All his lambs have gone to slaughter”. I was sitting in my house on the Gulf of Mexico, trying to write but mostly obsessing about the thousands of gallons of oil an hour that were spewing into the gulf due to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. His words reached me like a balm.

For me the theme of spiritual awakening in the song goes beyond awakening to our own nature, and extends to the natural world of which we’re undeniably a part – the world that Saint Francis called “the mirror of God”.

-Gretchen Peters

About Gretchen Peters

Peters’ own voice and guitar playing have been at the core of her music since she started performing in the Boulder, Colorado folk circuit as a teenager. Inspired by Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and a new generation of songwriters rising out of Nashville that included Steve Earle, Nanci Griffith and Rodney Crowell, Peters relocated to Music City in the late 1980s.

Martina McBride’s 1995 recording of Peters’ “Independence Day,” the gritty story of an abused woman’s revenge, made her a songwriting sensation. The performance received a “Best Country Song” Grammy nomination and won the Country Music Association’s “Song of the Year” title. After that a string of great vocalists – Pam Tillis, Trisha Yearwood, Patty Loveless, Neil Diamond, George Strait, Etta James – began to record Peters’ songs. Peters also signed her own record deal, yielding her 1996 debut album The Secret of Life. The title track was cut by Faith Hill in 1999 and hit number five on the country charts.

Since then Peters has recorded five other solo albums: Gretchen Peters (2001), Halcyon (2004), Trio Live (2006), Burnt Toast and Offerings (2007) and Northern Lights (2008). The compilation Circus Girl was released in 2009. And that same year Peters collaborated with one of her favorite songwriters, Tom Russell, for their One To the Heart, One To the Head. The Grammy nominated singer-songwriter from Nashville calls Hello Cruel World her “most close-to-the-bone work, written at a time when I felt absolutely fearless about telling the truth.”


St. Francis Banner in Franciscan Sisters MotherhouseST. FRANCIS

by Gretchen Peters/Tom Russell

St. Francis walking on the water

All his lambs have gone to slaughter

All the creatures who receive his grace

You can see them all in his haggard face

St Francis begging at your doorway

You want to let him in but what will the neighbors say

And you know you can’t go on but you can’t give up

And he answers you with his begging cup

St Francis sitting at your table

A cup of tea among the faithful

Behind a wall that’s made of little lies

Much to your surprise you start to cry

By these wounds you will be whole again

By these signs you will know

You’ll feel a stirring in your soul again

’Til sweet amnesia takes a hold

Saint Francis sleeping in the meadow

His halo is a raven’s shadow

He’s been sleeping for 800 years

In a potter’s field full of sparrow’s tears

And while we sleep and dream of heaven’s gates

Down here on earth the old man waits


14 thoughts on “Francis Month Free Song: St. Francis by Gretchen Peters”

  1. Sister Mary Ann says:

    “To make his [Francis] mission our own” has been the call to focus of my life through teaching, learning, listening, discovering who are those in need at my door. Thanks to you Gretchen and Tom for stirring my soul through your song about this patron of ours, you capture the “real Francis” –very moving!

  2. Sister Pamela Catherine says:

    This song reminds me of the cliche “You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk.”

    We as Christians need to find our true selves, to step beyond the lies we create, the excuses we tell ourselves for not living a truly Christian life. We must not be ashamed to be Christ to another. We need to let Him in, to open ourselves to Him, baring both the good and the bad. We must do as we say, reawaken our faith which stretches beyond mere words. It is the message of Pope Francis. We need to start “doing” Christian, to stop dreaming the dream and begin living the dream, reawakening St. Francis here on earth in our actions with each other.

    Beautiful song of self-reflection!! Thank you!

  3. Mary says:

    Creation, Crib, and Cross – these are the three C’s
    of St. Francis. It seems to me that
    these three C’s are not only the pillars of Franciscan spirituality, but of
    spirituality as a whole. Plus, the fact
    that they are intrinsically connected points to the totality of our own beings
    – as physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual beings. Yet, despite the fact that we cannot
    completely separate these elements from one another, there is one element that
    seems to speak to me particularly at this time, and that is the crib.

    crib is like the glue that holds all three together, because the crib is the
    Incarnation, and so the crib is Christ – the focal point of all
    spirituality. We see in creation the
    goodness of God pouring forth into all of creation. This has two key implications for us: first,
    all of creation is “good” (Gen. 1:10), and second all of creation finds it’s
    summit in God, it’s source.
    Unfortunately, we do not always reflect this goodness that is inherent
    to us, because we freely choose to sin.
    Consequently we have estranged ourselves from God, in whom we alone can
    reach fulfillment. What we need is
    Someone who can bridge the divide between God and man, Someone who can
    reconcile us to God so that we may be reunited.
    What we need is precisely what we got in Jesus – One who is fully
    divine, and yet also fully human. In His
    divinity He willingly condescended to our poor humanity, and so is rightfully
    called “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col.
    1:15). Christ is the perfect creation – He is what we were made to be. Yet not only that, but He makes us what we
    are made to be. How? Through the cross. Yet the cross is devoid of meaning without
    the Incarnation. If God did not
    condescend to also be fully human, the cross would not have the same
    implications that it now has. Jesus’
    humility and sacrificial love which are so plainly seen in His Passion and
    death on the cross are first noticed in the Incarnation. For what better example is there of humility
    than God becoming man? Truly the crib is
    where the cross begins. As Fr. William
    Saunders says, “We must never forget that the wood of the manger that held Him
    so securely would one day give way to the wood of the cross” (Saunders).

    in the crib we find the fullness of creation and the promised victory of the
    fullness of redemption and salvation, all wrapped in the tiny bundle of an
    innocent child. Should it come as any
    wonder then that “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matt.
    19:14)? The love of a child is so
    perfect and pure, so I want God to love me as a child, just as He wants me as a
    child to love Him. There is so much that
    can be unpacked from the Incarnation, but I think the most important is the
    fact that the Incarnation transforms purely intellectual faith into authentic
    love. And so it can be said that
    “Christmas is about the physical birth of
    Love among us” (Quigley).

  4. Sister Kathleen says:

    This morning the line “his halo is a raven’s shadow” struck me. Francis was such a reluctant Saint, so ready to see the weakness in himself, and so firm in putting himself in the lowest place. Not even the sheen of the actual raven would he claim for halo, but only the
    raven’s shadow. The raven was one of the birds sent out by Noah to find dry land, a place to stay. The bird returned, finding no home. This speaks to me of Francis’ spirit. He too, roamed and searched for a place for his soul to rest, but finally returned to his Creator feeling he had failed, but actually coming home to the greatest of rewards. It’s a lovely song!

  5. sisterjune says:

    The song was very thought provoking and was easy to see the
    images portrayed in it. I like the part where St. Francis is drinking tea – calming his spirit from all the walking and begging he did in his life time.

  6. Chris says:

    St. Francis’ life and the teachings from and about him have impacted me greatly. His love for creation shows his love for the Creator of these creations. I find myself looking at nature differently than I used to. I gaze at all the beautiful trees, plants, and animals and just thank God for all He has done in me and around me. I also get motivated to pick up trash or say something to someone who is trashing our environment because of my love for God and his creation, much like St. Francis.

  7. Sr. Emiliana says:

    The Canticle of Creation

    Out of the darkness Saint Francis found God’s presence. Saint Francis had a unique call,
    the call to integrate with all God’s creation. Knowing himself, Saint Francis realized his weakness. He understood the goodness of God and his call of taking care of His creation.

    In the discovery of God’s presence in creation, Saint Francis inspires me. Now I understand the importance of God’s creations in my life. God loves me through material world, and He entrusted me to care for his nature and all living things. In the story
    of creation from Genesis, it illustrates how God entrusted to human being all
    livings, “Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all
    the living things that move on the earth.” (Gn. 1:28-30) My life depends on
    God’s creation. I get water, food, and air through God’s creation. The
    development of science and technology has contributed much in air pollution. My
    call today is to love God through his nature and participate in his creation by
    taking care of His nature. Like Jesus humbled himself and suffered patiently for my salvation, I will follow him by making a sacrifice for taking care of His creation for the praise and glory of his name. To reach this stage, I need to understand God’s so that I can share his spiritually gift with others.

  8. Maria Echezonachukwu Dim says:

    It is an enriching insight to learn that the flamboyant
    joyful test of the canticle of creatures was forged out of the apophatic and kataphatic
    mystical experience of St Francis. The poetic and joyful hymn of the canticle
    of creatures of St Francis is the culmination of Francis’s understanding and
    appreciation of the whole creation as a gift of God.

    Francis in his canticle of creature shows us that God is
    present in and through his creatures. It
    deepens my understanding of a verse in the book of wisdom which says “From the
    greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of
    their creator” (Wis 13:5, cf, Rom 1:20).

    Francis has helped me to appreciate my connectedness with all
    the creatures and my unique way of praising God through His creation.

    What a spiritual
    insight to know that each creature praises its creator according to its nature.
    And more awesome to learn that man endowed with powers of the soul, praises God
    by doing God’s will and enduring ills in peace.
    And so my deepest desire is to appreciate God’s love in his creatures,
    love him in others and in the whole

    O’ God, may I gain interior peace by doing your will and
    enduring in peace.

  9. Sister Julie Ann says:

    Thanks for sharing how much Francis is part of your own life!

  10. Sister Julie Ann says:

    Your own relationship with God shines through your sharing!

  11. Sister Julie Ann says:

    Out of the darkness…with Jesus, Francis ever saw light in darkness! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  12. Sister Julie Ann says:

    Your goodness is evident in this post. Thanks for an excellent summary of all that Francis held dear in his relationship to God and all of creation.

  13. G. says:

    Right away I sense the song’s peacefulness. Gretchen Peters does a fine job on inviting one to know more about St. Francis. It gives you a sense that he is with you and you are on your journey toward Christ.

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