Welcome to the official website of pianist and composer Deanna Witkowski.

Deanna cover photo for Raindrop (no text)

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HYMN TUNE HISTORY: LASST UNS ERFREUEN (All Creatures of Our God and King)

Here’s the third installment in my hymn history co-blog with author and activist, Pam McAllister.  We’re exploring the history of each of the hymns on Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns.

This week, we look at the tune, LASST UNS ERFREUEN with the text, “All Creatures of Our God and King.” The text was based on a poem by St. Francis, the patron saint of ecology, while the tune was composed by a Jesuit priest who dared to speak out against church witch trials and torture in the 1600s! Here’s the fascinating history.


“Saint Francis” painting by Jen Norton. Click to view more of Norton’s artwork.

Francis of Assisi (1181?-1226) looked at the world and saw something different than the rest of us generally see.

In 1225, he composed his famous “Canticle of the Sun” which was paraphrased seven hundred years later by Anglican clergyman William H. Draper into verses for the hymn “ALL CREATURES OF OUR GOD AND KING.” In his poem, Francis gave thanks for Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brother Wind, Sister Water, Brother Fire, and Mother Earth. He even wrote a verse for Sister Death.

According to the well-worn stories, Francis, sometimes called the Patron Saint of Ecology, renounced wealth and warfare, danced with Lady Poverty, rescued earth-worms, preached to the birds, negotiated with wolves, founded the Franciscan order. Continue reading

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