History of Hymns: “Toda la Tierra (All Earth is Waiting)”

by Andrew Davis

Toda la Tierra (All Earth is Waiting)
by Alberto Taulé, trans. Gertrude C. Suppe;
United Methodist Hymnal, No. 210.

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.*

Translation © 1989 The United Methodist Publishing House. Used with permission.

A song filled with joyful anticipation, Alberto Taulé’s “Toda la Tierra/All Earth is Waiting” is one of many hymns that can be used to set the tone for the longing, waiting, and watching that happens during the Advent season.

Originally composed in Catalonian in 1972 and translated into English by Gertrude C. Suppe in 1987, “Toda la Tierra/All Earth is Waiting” has central themes of hope, prophecy, liberation, justice, and the parousia, or second coming of Jesus.  The first verse speaks of the promise and the longing for freedom and justice for a people who have been oppressed. The essence of stanzas 1 and 3 can be seen in the words of Isaiah 40:4:

Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain (NRSV).

On the other hand, stanza 2 is based on Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel” (NRSV). Note the paraphrase of stanza 2:

Thus says the prophet to those of Israel,
A virgin mother will bear Emmanuel,
For his name is “God with us,”
Our Brother shall be,
With him hope will blossom once more within our hearts.*

Unlike the first three stanzas, which anticipate the coming of the Messiah, or Promised One, stanza 4 shifts to the past-tense, in which the birth has happened and “the Promised One appeared.”

In lowly stable the Promised one appeared,
Yet, feel his presence throughout the earth today,
For he lives in all Christian and is with us now;
Again, with his coming he brings us liberty.*

Stanza 4 shows how Jesus is still with us today and where Jesus can still set us free in the midst of captivity and oppression.  The first three stanzas deal with the prophecy and promise while stanza 4 shifts the focus to the birth of Jesus and to today, tying together both what is to come and what has already happened, along with the hope, justice, and liberty that we still long for today as we await the second coming.

Alberto Taulé was born in Sabadell, Spain in the Catalonian region in 1932 and served as a pastor and musician in Barcelona at St. Mary By the Sea during most of his life before passing away in 2007.  While serving in Barcelona, Alberto Taulé did have opportunities that would take him to different parts of Europe to study and learn.  For his formal education, Taulé spent time in Rome while studying for graduate degrees at Gregorian University and at St. Pius X Institute in theology, organ, Gregorian chant, and composition.1 He also had the opportunity to travel to Italy, Germany, and France along with serving as professor of music, Latin, and French at the Minor Seminary of the Archdiocese of Barcelona while also serving as National Secretariat for the Liturgy of Madrid.2

One of Alberto Taulé’s main emphases was that “quality music and the regular introduction of new songs are vital to a parish’s spiritual health.” He is best known for his collection of liturgical songs, Dia de Fiesta, which was completed just before his passing in 2007.3 Alberto Taulé’s main impetus for compiling Dia de Fiesta was that “there is a danger in static repertoire.  Sung too often for too long, music can lose its impact.” One example of where “Toda la Tierra/All Earth is Waiting” fits the bill is that it is specific for Advent and is also rich in scripture like many of the compositions that are found in Dia de Fiesta.4

 
 

1 ‘Alberto Taulé’. 2016. Accessed October 12, 2016. https://www.ocp.org/en-us/artists/339#bio.

2 Una a Su Asamblea Durante La Cuaresma Y La Pascua ¡Haga Su Pedido Hoy!. n.p., 2013. http://content.ocp.org/shop/pdf/LCE-142.pdf.

3 ‘Alberto Taulé’. 2016. Accessed October 12, 2016. https://www.ocp.org/en-us/artists/339#bio.

4 Ibid.

 

About this Week's Writer

Andrew Davis is pastor of Community UMC, Quincy, CA (www.quincymethodist.org) and one of the chapter leaders of the California-Nevada Chapter of The Fellowship. A native of Sacramento, CA, Andrew spent nine years working in the grocery business before attending Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC, where he recently completed his Master of Divinity.

 

This article is provided as a collaboration between Discipleship Ministries and The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts.  For more information about The Fellowship, visit UMFellowship.org/Hymns.

Discipleship Ministries
The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts

 

Categories: History of Hymns, Worship, Worship Planning, Civil Observances, Thanksgiving

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