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.
Christ, 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!
I 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”.
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.”
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