Today is the Feast Day for St. Francis of Assisi. When I visited Assisi and toured the beautiful Basilica, there was a Franciscan monk leading a tour of the upper and lower churches which feature beautiful frescoes depicting the life of Christ (upper church) and the life of St. Francis. When he completed the tour, the monk said, "Now I want to pronounce to you Francis' favorite blessing, it's found in the Old Testament:
The Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you
The Lord lift his countenance upon you
And give you peace
The monk then bid us to go in peace. I recognized the words of that blessing having read them in Numbers 6: 24-26. But I recognized them primarily as the benediction that was often sung at the end of the Sunday service at Jackson's Gap Baptist Church where my father served as pastor when I was a child.
Here is John Rutter's arrangement of that ancient blessing:
* The St. Francis icon pictured above is by Marcy Hall and is one of her Dancing Monks series