What if a whole lot or the entirety of your hymnody had been shaped by American missionaries of any kind of belief, but mainly of what used to be known, when they originally went missionary, as fundamentalism?
Your hymnody would be the armpit of the church.
That’s what we have in Spanish. We have John Wimber, Harry Emerson Fosdick, Twila Paris and all the latest. Just what we need. Why do people climb over each other to give us translations of this?
Couldn’t we have a bit of the old, reliable stuff please? One fellow I’m curious about is this one: Juan B. Cabrera (1837 – 1916). He did Holy, Holy, Holy in an excellent translation. Apparently he put out a whole hymnal in Spain back in his time. Unfortunately he also dedicated himself to a few Gospel Songs and is a mixed bag, though for the translations I’ve seen, he does the best. He is the author of one of the best which, naturally, the hymn compilers have seen fit to reduce as too much excellence, I assume, would have destroyed the chances of winning awards for the mediocre work generally prized in that area (they may have a point on stanza 4, but not on the rest).
Nunca, Dios mío
Nunca, Dios mío, cesará mi labio
De bendecirte, de cantar tu gloria,
Porque conservo de tu amor inmenso
Cuando perdido en mundanal sendero
No me cercaba sino niebla oscura,
Tú me miraste y alumbróme un rayo
De tu luz pura.
Cuando inclinaba mi abatida frente
Del mal obrar el oneroso yugo,
Dulce reposo, y eficaz alivio
Darme te plugo.
Cuando los dones malgasté a porfía,
Con que a mi alma pródigo adornaste,
“Padre, he pecado”, con dolor te dije,
Y me abrazaste.
Cuando en sus propios méritos fiaba,
Nunca mi pecho con amor latía;
Hoy de amor late, porque en tus bondades
Y cuando exhale mi postrer aliento
para volar a tu eternal presencia,
cierto hallaré, con tu justicia unida,
¡Oh! nunca, nunca cesará mi labio
de bendecirte de cantar tu gloria;
porque conservo de tu amor inmenso
What they get awards for, I think, is the little apparatus that comes with their award-winning hymnal which when you punch the number of the hymn, like a telephone, out comes the most bizarrely orchestrated, profane circus music arrangement possible so that even the best hymns you were not able to exclude can be rendered banal, trivial and utterly offensive to God and so you can say: mission accomplished.
I’ve been reading Lovelace on The Anatomy of Hymnody and the discouraging thing there is that his refined and sophisticated distinctions and observations are probably never going to be possible. We might have 20 texts that come into that category. It is a melancholy thought, but the sloven legacy we are left with simply doesn’t allow for more and does not appear to be improving. On the horizon I see no one even interested, but I’ll admit my horizon here is limited.
Reading Jeremiah, one sees it is has been for ages the tradition of God’s people to leave the living waters and make for themselves broken cisterns. We have what is worse because we frankly prefer it.
Here is an interesting site. I think it is the Spanish equivalent of Cyberhymnal.
It has some treasures; one doesn’t entirely give up hope. Here is one that will fit the tune of ‘O Sacred Head.’
Oh pan de peregrinos
¡Oh, pan de peregrinos,
¡Oh, Tú, maná divino,
Concédenos que cuando
Comamos de tu altar,
Al mundo tan nefando
¡Oh, manantial de vida,
Del seno del Señor!
¡Oh, fuente cristalina
Del verdadero amor!
Oh, déjanos gustarte
Y nuestra sed saciar,
Que nunca Tú nos faltes
Por la eternidad.
Jesús, en esta mesa
Tu Iglesia así profesa
Tomarte sin dudar,
Permite que podamos
En Ti y por Ti vivir,
Y el día que muramos
Vivamos para Ti. Amén.
Autor: Ray Palmer
Traducción: Roberto E. Ríos