History of Hymns: "Camina, Pueblo de Dios"
By C. Michael Hawn and Sara VanBeek
"Camina, Pueblo de Dios" ("Walk On, O People of God")
Cesáreo Gabaráin; Translated by George Lockwood
The United Methodist Hymnal, No. 305
Walk on, O people of God;
Walk on, O people of God!
A new law, God's new alliance,
All creation is reborn.
Walk on, O people of God;
Walk on, O people of God!*
Cesáreo Gabaráin (1936-1991) was one of the best-known composers of Spanish liturgical music. He was inspired by the feelings and actions of the humble people he met during his ministry.
Born in Spain, he completed his basic theological studies and went on to receive degrees in theology, journalism, and musicology from the University of Madrid. As a parish priest, he was known for his work with youth and especially cyclists.
Gabaráin became president of the Spanish liturgical music association and one of the most important composers of congregational song immediately following the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). Following a tour of 22 cities in the United States in 1990 to conduct workshops, he died of cancer in 1991 at age 55.
The Catholic hymnal in Spain, Cantoral Litúrgico Nacional (3rd edition, 1994), is an indication of the popularity of Gabaráin’s hymns with twelve entries, including music, text and ritual music for the Mass. In his generation, only the late Alberto Taulé (1932-2007), a priest from Barcelona, had more entries in this hymnal, though Gabaráin’s influence exceeds that of Taulé internationally through Spanish-speaking communities and translations. The popularity of Gabaráin's hymns beyond Spain is evident in the Spanish-language Roman Catholic hymnal Flor y Canto (Third Edition, 2011), which contains 29 of his hymns.
George Lockwood (b. 1946) served as a member of the Hispanic Consultation of the Hymnal Revision Committee for The United Methodist Hymnal. A Chicago native, he was a missionary to Costa Rica. While pastoring in Arizona and California, he translated thirty new hymns. Nine of his translations appear in our hymnal.
"Camina Pueblo de Dios" looks at the Resurrection of Christ, not only as the most significant event in Christian history, but also as a sign of hope for God's people on the journey toward reconciliation and justice.
This hymn shows the influence of liberation theology. Hispanic theological perspective often sees faith as a journey toward improved lives. In the refrain, the people are empowered to respond to a "nueva ley" (new law) and to participate in a "nueva alianza" (new alliance) and a "nueva creación" (new creation).
In stanza one, the cross towers on Calvary as a sign of "new living, a new people, a new light." All things are reborn (signs of hope) in the new creation. Stanza two views the Christus Victor – the conquering Christ – as the one who absorbs "all our sin, enslavement, and pain" into his own body. In destroying death, Christ offers us "life's abundance, life's new joy." The result is "reconciliation to all things and people with God." As a response to Christ's reconciliation, nature responds by "burst[ing] into new flowering," symbolizing the rebirth of all creation.
In stanza three, reconciliation takes on a cosmic dimension – "Cielo y tierra se abrazan" – literally, heaven and earth are hugging each other. Through God's reconciliation through Christ, "“our souls find pardon at last." Our journey takes us to heaven's open gates – open to all humanity. We are companions with Israel on the journey and we all "vive y canta" (live and sing) Christ's redemption. We are no longer bound to the old ways because, "Hay nuevos mundos abiertos en la nueva creación." (There are new worlds open to us in the new creation.)
Gabaráin’s view of the Resurrection places the focus on the journey toward hope, reconciliation, and a united people both in this life and in the life to come. The incorporation of images of nature is common in Easter hymns, but is especially rich in Spanish-language hymnody. The Resurrection is not a static celebration, but calls the people of God to unite and explore a new life in Christ. Before we were wandering; but now, as new people in Christ, we are unified in a common direction to explore an abundant creation.
**Translation by George Lockwood. © 1989 The United Methodist Publishing House (administered by The Copyright Company, Nashville, Tenn.) All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Dr. Hawn is distinguished professor of church music at Perkins School of Theology. He is also director of the seminary's sacred music program.
Sara VanBeek is a graduate of the master of sacred music program, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University