Home History of Hymns: "Toda la Tierra"

History of Hymns: "Toda la Tierra"

"Toda la Tierra" ("All Earth Is Waiting")
Alberto Taulè; translated by Gertrude C. Suppe
UM Hymnal, No. 210

Alberto Taulè

All earth is waiting to see the Promised One,
and the open furrows, the sowing of the Lord.
All the world, bound and struggling, seeks true liberty;
it cries out for justice and searches for the truth.*

In the years following the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), Roman Catholics were finding their congregational voice around the world in regional musical idioms and vernacular languages. Latin was still a part of the Mass and always encouraged, but to this was added the peculiar sounds—sung and spoken—of the world’s peoples.

Hymns, for the most part, were foreign to the Roman Catholic Mass. Following the lead of Protestant traditions, hymns were grafted onto a pre-existing structure, usually but not exclusively at four times during the Mass: the entrance, offertory, Eucharist and closing.

“All Earth Is Waiting” (“Toda la tierra”) comes from the early 1970s. The folk-style music is typical of the times and could be accompanied as easily on guitar or piano as on the more traditional instrument of the organ.

This hymn might be used at the point of the Gradual, corresponding to the psalm of the day following the epistle lesson. Based on Isaiah 40, the hymn is particularly appropriate on the second Sunday of Advent, Year B in the Revised Common Lectionary.

According to Oregon Catholic Press, the American publisher of his music, Monsignor Alberto Taulè (1932-2007) “was a presbyter and composer of liturgical music in Barcelona, Spain. Born and raised in that city, he received a graduate degree in theology at the Gregorian University in Rome as well as a graduate degree in sacred music at Saint Pius X Institute, also in Rome. His areas of specialization in music are organ, composition and Gregorian chant.”

The translator of this text, Gertrude Suppe (1911-2007), offered her reflections on the hymn in correspondence with UM Hymnal editor, the Rev. Carlton Young: “I attended a workshop Taulè helped lead two years ago. . . . He was absolutely delighted to have us choose “Toda la tierra” for the United Methodist Hymnal, as it was the first time he had had a song published in the United States.”

In Taulè’s introduction to his collection El Señor es mi luz (The Lord Is My Light), he refers to the new type of songs, including “Toda la tierra,” that had begun to appear in the Spanish Roman Catholic church around 1967. The hymn was first included in Cantoral de Missa Dominical Centre de Pastoral Liturgica (1972). The text, written in Catalonian, was translated into English for the UM Hymnal in 1987.

The agrarian images in the text not only correspond to the images found in Isaiah 40, but are also reminiscent of the hymns of another Spanish priest, Cesáreo Gabárien (1936-1991), who is represented in the UM Hymnal with five hymns including, “Tú has venido a la orilla” (Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore”) and “Una espiga” (“Sheaves of Summer”).

Stanza one follows Isaiah 40:3 closely, adding the themes of liberty, justice and the search for truth. Stanza two draws from Isaiah 7:14. Stanza three is based on Isaiah 40:4. The final stanza focuses on Christ’s presence among us today. The hymn concludes as it began in stanza one, with a hint of liberation theology: Christ’s coming “brings us liberty.”

* Translation © 1972 United Methodist Publishing House. Administrated by The Copyright Co., Nashville, Tenn. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Dr. Hawn is professor of sacred music at Perkins School of Theology, SMU.

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