Joel Garver had a good post on St. Francis the other day. About the same time, I heard a track from Canticle of the Plains while shuffling the old iPod. This convergence of events prompted me to dust off (metaphorically, of course, although the cover on my iPod does tend to attract debris) the album and give it a listen.
Canticle of the Plains is a somewhat hard-to-find album released by Rich Mullins back in 1997, the year of his tragic demise. Described as "a musical based on the life of St. Francis of Assisi by the Kid Brothers of St. Frank," the album is the brainchild of Mullins, who co-wrote all the songs with Mitch McVicker and longtime collaborator Beaker. Incidentally, Mullins is barely present on the recording, limited to sparse background vocals only. The songs were written as part of a larger musical, based roughly on the life of St. Francis (transposed to the post-Civil War Western U.S). As such, the songs are sung by different characters, and the album enlists the aid of several vocalists, including McVicker, Michael Tait and Kevin Smith of dc Talk fame, and Leigh Nash of Sixpence None the Richer. Rich was never able to perform the musical in full, although I understand that it was performed posthumously on a few occasions. Either way, the album is fantastic and comprised of some of Rich's best writing.