The Great Commission inspires Spanish hymn "You Are the Seed"
“You Are the Seed”
Cesareo Gabaraín; translated by Raquel Gutiérrez-Achon and Skinner Chávez-Melo
UM Hymnal, No. 583
You are the seed that will grow a new sprout;
you’re a star that will shine in the night;
you are the yeast and a small grain of salt,
a beacon to glow in the dark. . . .
Go, my friends, go to the world,
proclaiming love to all,
messengers of my forgiving peace, eternal love.
Be, my friends, a loyal witness,
from the dead I arose;
“Lo, I’ll be with you forever,
till the end of the world.” *
Monseñor 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, Gabaráin 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, taking so many tours with them that he became known as “priest of the 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 only 55.
The refrain of “You Are the Seed” (“Sois la semilla”) is based on the Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20: “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (American Standard Version)
The stanzas contribute to the message of the refrain drawing upon several images that project growth and hope: Stanza one includes “seed,” “star,” “yeast,” “salt,” “beacon,” “dawn” and “wheat.” Stanza two cites “flame” and “shepherds to lead the whole world . . . through pastures of peace.” Stanza three draws upon several images including the Eucharist: “yesterday’s yeast is beginning to rise, a new loaf of bread it will yield.”
Readers will note a wide range of biblical allusions. Some examples include:
• Seed—“And he answered and said, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man.” (Matthew 13:37)
• Salt—“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men.” (Matthew 5:13)
• Light—“Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.” (Matthew 5:14)
The melody is entitled ID Y ENSEÑAD (Go and teach). As a poet and composer, Gabaráin was qualified to write both the melody and the Spanish text. The United Methodist Hymnal contains five of his hymns, all with bilingual presentations in the original Spanish and English translations. The most famous of these is “Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore” (UM Hymnal 344). The English translations were prepared for the hymnal, an indication that the Hymnal Revision Committee took the lead in bringing these beautiful hymns to a greater audience.