At noon Mass today, our pastor emeritus chose “Make Me a Channel/Prayer of St Francis” as the hymn of the day. It’s of the generation of “Keep In Mind,” and I remember singing this as a pre-Catholic in sixth grade.
It may be most famous for being a favorite of Princess Di, and it was arranged for four-part singing at her funeral.
My musical colleagues struggled with it in college. We were handed a rather static arrangement of chords to go with the text. GIA’s Diana Kodner improves on the usual accompaniment in the Gather hymnals. I confess I don’t know what to do with it. The tune is singable and it seems to have a certain staying power. Except for the deceased Princess of Wales, I don’t know anyone who counts it as their favorite. Enough people seem to like it well enough.
It has an unusual structure, especially for its day. Four short verses, like most metered hymns. But verse three is suggestive of a different key with the use of the IV and V/V harmonizations. Yet the melody isn’t really all that different. AABA form, right?
OCP gives the briefest bio of the composer (pictured left).
Other composers have attempted to set the text attributed to Saint Francis. I can’t say I’ve ever seen one written for the assembly that really impressed me. Maybe you have.
Those who attend to the “categories” on this site will note I’ve added a new one under “Liturgical Music,” that of “Songlist.” Yesterday’s post on the Deiss classic seemed to have sparked some interesting discussion, so I’ll go with the idea of commenting on specific songs and hymns in the Catholic or Christian repertoire. This category will not include psalms, Mass settings, or compositions of that sort. Any suggestions for hymns or songs we should look at?