History of Hymns: 'Somos uno en Cristo'
By C. Michael Hawn
“Somos uno en Cristo” (“We are one in Christ Jesus”)
Anonymous, Trans. Alice Parker
Mil Voces Para Celebrar, 273
The Faith We Sing, 2229
This anonymous Spanish-language scripture chorus (corito) focuses on Ephesians 4:4–6. The chorus was undoubtedly transmitted via oral/aural tradition before being included in Celebremos su gloria (Dallas, 1992), a collection produced by an association of evangelical churches in Central America. Philip W. Blycker (b. 1939) (also called by his Spanish name Felipe Blycker J.) served as the musical editor of the collection and the arranger of the tune. Blycker, a composer, served as a missionary with his wife, Mary Arleen, in Guatemala and Mexico before joining the music faculty at the Rio Grande Bible College (Edinburg, Texas). [Baade, 2019, p. 226]. He also contributed over a dozen songs to the United Methodist Spanish-language hymnal, Mil Voces Para Celebrar (1996), edited by Raquel Mora Martínez (b. 1940). The noted composer, conductor, author, and teacher Alice Parker (b. 1925) provides the singing translation in Mil Voces Para Celebrar and The Faith We Sing. Blycker, under his Spanish name Felipe Blycker J., is the musical arranger.
The construction of the original language reflects Spanish translations found in several of the Spanish-language Bibles used in preparing the hymnal. An example from La Biblia de las Américas (1986) follows with italicized words corresponding to phrases used in the corito, though not in this order: “Hay un solo cuerpo y un solo Espíritu, así como también vosotros fuisteis llamados en una misma esperanza de vuestra vocación; un solo Señor, una sola fe, un solo bautismo, un solo Dios y Padre de todos, que está sobre todos, por todos y en todos.” The incipit (“Somos uno en Cristo”), sung from the first-person plural point of view, replaces “Hay un solo cuerpo” (There is one body), a less personal third-person perspective. The song adds a concluding reference to the Holy Spirit, the Comforter (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:17).
The following chart compares the scriptural passage in Spanish with the text of the song and the singing translation provided by Alice Parker.
La Biblia de las Américas (1986), Efesios 4:4–6
Celebremos su gloria
Santo, Santo, Santo/Holy, Holy, Holy (Chicago: 2019, no. 227), Tr. Alice Parker
4Hay un solo cuerpo y un solo Espíritu, así como también vosotros fuisteis llamados en una misma esperanza de vuestra vocación; 5 un solo Señor, una sola fe, un solo bautismo, 6un solo Dios y Padre de todos, que está sobre todos, por todos y en todos.
Somos uno en Cristo,
Uno solo Dios,
We are one in Christ Jesus,
We share one God,
© 1996 Abingdon Press. All rights reserved.
Alice Parker preserves more of the original scripture in its opening line: “We are one in Christ Jesus, all one body, / all one spirit, all together”—an effective tautology that solidifies the theme of unity by stating it three times in the opening two lines. Carl P. Daw Jr. suggests that the song should be sung in English and Spanish because “the Spanish is able to deliver a more verbally unified and consistent message, while the English conveys a richer and fuller one. Each has its virtues, and each, its limitations” (Daw, 2016, p. 326). Syncopated rhythms fit the Spanish language better than English. The rise in melodic tessitura in the second half adds expressive energy to the list of characteristics that unify the Christian community.
- SOMOS UNO (organ, percussion, quartet): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqz57oDLK_M&t=103s
- SOMOS UNO (percussion, guitars, choir): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bBn-nDbML0&t=10s
- SOMOS UNO (solo, guitar, percussion): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vxttNvMx6U&t=23s
- SOMOS UNO (Film with instruments and soloist): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4cAHOGu838&t=34s
Colleen R. Baade and “Blycker, Philip W,” in Lutheran Service Book, Companion to the Hymns, Vol. 2, ed. Joseph Herl, et al. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2019).
Carl P. Daw Jr., Glory to God: A Companion (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016).
C. Michael Hawn, “Raquel Mora Martínez,” The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology.
Canterbury Press, http://www.hymnology.co.uk/r/raquel-mora-martínez (accessed August 16, 2022).
C. Michael Hawn, D.M.A., F.H.S., is University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Church Music and Adjunct Professor, and Director, Doctor of Pastoral Music Program at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.