St. Francis Feature: kith&kin’s Cool of the Night

In this month of August, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity feature the artistry of kith&kin in their hymn Cool of the Day. St. Francis of Assisi would very much feel at home singing this hymn in any season amid the gardens of life. In our experience summer monsoons certainly stir up winds of refreshing coolness in the desert heat. (Photo: Sister  Carol Seidl, Casa Grande, AZ) In time the cold breath of winter so soon follows.

We’ve come to think of Cool of the Day as an eco-hymn. We’ve been singing it for more than a decade at our concerts and community events, and we’re always amazed by how powerfully it moves people, whether or not they subscribe to a particular faith. The late Jean Ritchie is one of our heroes, a great songwriter and keeper / sharer of deep folks traditions.


About kith&kin

Kith&kin, a musical trio comprised of singer-songwriter Ivy Mairi, her sister Martha Farquhar-McDonnell and their mother Kathleen McDonnell, has its roots in their home base on Toronto Island. Through singing together at countless community gatherings and celebrations over the years, and with the help of instinctive family harmony, Kathleen, Martha and Ivy developed their characteristic style, using close harmonies and spare instrumentation to create haunting arrangements of the music of Appalachia, the British Isles, and other traditions.

The recording of their first CD, Yet Will I be Merry: Carols and Songs of the Season, was done at St. Andrew-by-the-Lake, a historic and beautiful church on Toronto Island, where the trio had performed many times at the annual Island Wassail holiday celebration. In 2009 they launched a mainland version, the kith&kin Holiday Wassail, at the Music Gallery. This annual sold-out show is a community celebration that has become a tradition for many families and music lovers in Toronto. For the Holiday Wassail, kith&kin enlists the musical help of an eight-member choir (the trio plus Isla Craig, Max Milton Kelly, Frank Griggs, Gabriel Levine, and Andrew Patten), many of whom they first met at monthly Toronto Shape-Note singing gatherings. The kith&kin Choir is raw and powerful, and performs lesser-known seasonal folk music from the Sacred Harp, Appalachian, and British Isles traditions.

In 2014 kith&kin released their second CD Cool of the Day, again recorded at St. Andrew-by-the-Lake church. The album features songs about water, and was named after the powerful enviro-hymn by influential American folk singer Jean Ritchie. In addition to their annual Wassails, kith&kin performs regularly in Toronto – including performances at the SING! Festival in the Distillery District, Montgomery’s Inn, Nuit Blanche and Harbourfront’s Canada Day celebrations. Most recently they created The Hollow Square, an innovative music theatre production that played to sold-out audiences at the 2015 Toronto Fringe Festival.


Youtube video of Cool of the Day:

Bandcamp page to order Cool of the Day CD / download

Maple Music site to order Yet will I be Merry: Carols and Songs of the Season CD


  1. Sister Kathleen says:

    In these days of so much fear and hyperbole, it’s refreshing to hear the words “now is the cool of the day”. That image of God walking to meet us in the cool evening is wonderful and yet challenging. God is coming into his garden, so we’d better tend to the grass, the water and the people there. This musical message is a great invitation to join St. Francis and Pope Francis in learning the holiness of stewardship on this gifted Earth.

  2. The earth is the garden of our Lord. We are to protect this place he has given us. It’s a gift from him. It makes me to take better care of the environment around me.

  3. The phrase that touches my heart is how God walks in the garden. This makes me think of creation and how he created the garden for humanity. It shows that God still walks with us.

  4. The garden is earth. The song is saying that God walks on the earth and is always present.

  5. The earth is not ours, its God’s and he has given us the responsibility to take care of it and each other. The song is beautiful. It shows us that God wants us to be happy and enjoy his creation.

  6. I love the voices, the text and the message of environmental care. Never before have we reached such a critical time of caring for our earth. May St. Francis guide us and Pope Francis remind us of our responsibility to care.

  7. I believe when someone calls something or someone cold, they mean its close to death. Which we relate to as bad. So even in the worst of days, God will still be present with us, guiding and loving us.

  8. God will claim his garden again and we must care for it as much as possible for when God comes back.

  9. ‘He comes to check up on this earth in the cool of the day! God cares for his creation and wants the best for us all here on earth.

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