May I Be an Instrument of Peace

from the Prayer of Saint Francis

The anonymous text commonly known as The Prayer of Saint Francis is a widely known Christian prayer for Peace. Although it cannot be traced to his writing, the sentiment is resonant with the teachings of Saint Francis of Assisi, a Catholic friar who lived in Italy in the late 1100’s-early 1200’s. He was canonized as a Patron Saint of Italy, and is remembered as the Patron Saint of Animals and the Natural Environment. He is often shown surrounded by sweetly approaching animals, like the Snow White of Italian Saints.

This round takes the first line of The Prayer of Saint Francis and sets it to a melody whose author I have been unable to find. (If you know, please email me). I learned it from musician and music therapist Dale Allen Boland when I first moved to the Bay Area.

A note on the musicality:

This is a 4-part round. The tricky part is holding the final “peace” for the full 8 counts – there is a tendency to finish the long note of “peace” early, and jump on the cycle of the roundsingers ahead of you. I suggest either being mindful of counting the beats of the final “peace” to avoid coming in too early on the next round, or keeping an eye on the roundsingers ahead of you – then it’s just a matter of coming in right after their “May I be an -“.


The original French version of The Prayer of Saint Francis, traced back to 1912

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.

The English translation, line for line. (Source)

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.