Friday, March 18, 2011

May nothing disturb you

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
 – 1 Corinthians 10:31
This song is based on a poem by St. Teresa of Avila titled "Nada te turbe". I intermixed the original Spanish with an English translation which I found online by Jorge W. Suazo.

May nothing disturb you
(Nada te turbe)

Music by PublicVigil © 2011
Lyrics are from a poem by St. Teresa of Avila
English translation © Jorge W. Suazo

Nada te turbe
Nada te espante
Todo se pasa
Dios no se muda

May nothing disturb you
May nothing astonish you
Everything passes
God does not go away

La paciencia
Todo lo alcanza
Quien a Dios tiene
Nada le falta

Can attain anything
He who has God within
Does not lack anything

God is everything
Solo Dios basta
God is everything


Here is the original poem in Spanish which is unchanged except where I made a mistake while singing and at one point said "no le falta" instead of "nada le falta".

Nada te turbe;
nada te espante;
todo se pasa;
Dios no se muda,
la paciencia
todo lo alcanza.
Quien a Dios tiene,
nada le falta.
Solo Dios basta.


Here is the translation as done by Jorge W. Suazo, which is the one I used. It is not as literal as some other translations I have seen. I actually wasn't aware of that at the time. It was only after I had put the song together and had recorded it, that I went back and looked at the translation in detail and realized that it has some inconsistencies with the original Spanish. I suppose it is a little more poetic than some other more literal translations. Anyway, I decided to leave it as is because it works well in the song and I didn't see any harm in the slight changes made in the translation.

May nothing disturb you.
May nothing astonish you.
Everything passes.
God does not go away.
can attain anything.
He who has God within,
does not lack anything.
God is everything!

Jorge himself admits on his webpage that the last line "God is everything" is more literally translated "God is enough". The confusion comes because the Spanish text loses a little of its meaning in an exact literal translation which would be something like "Alone [or 'only'] God suffices". I have to say that Jorge's translation is somewhat liberal. It presupposes what St. Teresa was thinking when she wrote this. Jorge draws the conclusion that when Teresa says that God is sufficient and that one does not need anything else, that she is therefore saying that God is everything that one needs in life. At least that is the way I understand his interpretation. I don't think he is taking a panentheistic point of view, but rather saying that God is all we need in our lives. If that is true, then I'm sure that Santa Teresa would agree!


I actually had already written the music for this song about a week before I came across St. Teresa's poem. I first came up with the rhythm guitar part which I really loved and I kept trying to come up with a melody and lyrics to go with it. I finally came up with a melody, but I couldn't come up with any lyrics.

Then I came across the poem and I thought it would never work with St. Teresa's words. But I gave it a try anyway. I started off with just the English words as lyrics, but then tried to fit the same melody to the original Spanish words and I was quite surprised when everything seemed to fit together so perfectly.

The thing I liked about the rhythm guitar part was that it had a haunting spiritual sound to it. This fits well with St. Teresa's writings because she often wrote about the ineffable quality of the inner revelations that she received. Since music has a way of communicating the ineffable, it seemed almost like it was meant to be from the beginning.


Here is a different English translation of St. Teresa's poem for comparison.

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things pass away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who has God
Finds he lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.


This could easily segue into a discussion of the new NAB (New American Bible) translation of the Bible. I don't really want to get into that subject in this post. I will just say that I am very displeased with the fact that the American bishops are supporting and promoting this work. First it was the "gender neutral" language which was introduced by NAB and now we have some more liberties taken in this latest translation. What most disturbs me about this is that it leaves the door wide open for an even more liberal translation that appeases people that insist that the Church change its stance on issues like homosexuality or women priests.

On a positive note, I applaud Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican for taking a strong stance in these matters. We can see this in the new English translation of the Mass as well as in the Vatican's past refusal to allow some NAB translations to be used in the Mass readings. Words do matter and we should not expect that the word of God was written only for our generation. The words of the Bible have very profound meanings and there is a danger that a new translation can become instead a new and false interpretation of God's word.

We should not expect the Bible to accommodate our personal beliefs, rather it is we who have to change ourselves in order to be fully in accord with God's word. The message of the Bible is eternal and any translation has to be careful that it does not go to extremes in order to force it to fit a particular cultural context.


Related article:
  • O Trinity that I adore - This is a song I wrote based on Blessed Elizabeth's prayer of the Trinity. Elizabeth was a nun in the Carmelite order established by St. Teresa.


  1. I've been adding content to this post and I think I'm finally done. The last thing I added is the Bible verse at the top: "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1Corinthian 10:31)

    I have been trying to make a habit of always starting off my posts with some text from the Bible. And when I first put this post together I didn't have anything. I like this verse from the Apostle Paul, because I was still feeling a little troubled by the words "God is everything" and I think this puts it into context.

    There is a real danger of falling into theological heresies by misinterpreting some aspects of Christianity. A lot of the New Age thinking springs up this way. It may have roots in Christianity, but then it borrows off of some 2000 year old heresy. I certainly don't want to engage in that type of activity. But it takes a certain amount of discernment to stay focused on the Good News of Jesus Christ. Thankfully, we have the teachings of the Church to help guide us and to help keep us on the true path.

  2. I was thinking again about that final line "Solo Dios basta."

    Here is how I would translate it and still keep it poetic:
    "God alone is all I/we/you need"

    I would probably favor "we" over the other choices so it would be:
    "God alone is all we need"
    I'm probably not going to re-record it at this point, but if I ever did that is what I would use.

    Ride. What do you think?

  3. It just occurred to me that St. Teresa's words are very comforting at a time of hardship like the one that the people of Japan are currently going through. At a time when everything is lost, only the love of God can sustain us. Without that, there is no hope and there is no faith.

    In Buddhism, there is no God as we know it in Christianity. Somehow though, the magnitude of this disaster must cause some to turn to God and seek his love. Life is always worth living even under the worst circumstances when we are full of the Divine love. At times like these we are reminded of the suffering of Christ on the Cross. And how God sent His Son to share our suffering. And not just our physical suffering, but even more importantly our spiritual suffering.

    And the saints like Teresa gladly shared in that suffering. Perhaps some will re-discover the book "The Bells of Nagasaki" by Takashi Nagai. He was a survivor of the atom bomb dropped over Nagasaki and a Catholic.

    Three months after the holocaust. Asked by the bishop to speak at the funeral Mass for the victims held in the courtyard of the bombed Catholic cathedral in Nagasaki, Nagai prayed for guidance on something meaningful to say. Here are some of his words:

    “At midnight that night, our cathedral suddenly burst into flames and was consumed. At exactly the same time in the Imperial Palace, His Majesty the Emperor made known his sacred decision to end the war. On August 15, the Imperial Rescript, which put an end to the fighting, was formally promulgated, and the whole world saw the light of peace. August 15 is also the great feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. It is significant, I believe, that the Urakami cathedral was dedicated to her. We must ask: was this convergence of events, the end of the war and the celebration of her feast day, merely coincidental, or was it the mysterious Providence of God?"
    "The Christian flock of Nagasaki was true to the Faith through three centuries of persecution. During the recent war it prayed ceaselessly for a lasting peace. Here was the one pure lamb that had to be sacrificed as hansai on His altar…so that many millions of lives might be saved… Let us be thankful that Nagasaki was chosen for the whole burnt sacrifice! Let us be thankful that through this sacrifice, peace was granted to the world and religious freedom to Japan.”

  4. Michael,
    I also prefer "God alone is all we need" because "Solo Dios basta" is very general. :)

    The other day I went to watch a movie called 'Of Gods And Men' based in the story of nine French monks who died in Algeria. Then I remembered your article about Asia Bibi.

    All the events in these two last years remind us how important is to have the presence of God in our lives.
    I'm far from being perfect but I can tell you how my life has changed since I'm more devoted to the Catholic church, and your articles are part of my conversion.

    I hope you have a lovely day,

  5. Hi Ride. I'm very glad to hear that I have helped you in your Catholic faith. Believe me that it is mutual. We support each other.

    I've heard about the movie "Of Gods and Men". I would like to see it, although it sounds quite sad.

    "God alone is all we need" it is then. If I ever re-record it, I'll go with that.

    Here is the complete poem "Nada te turbe" by Santa Teresa. I didn't realize at the time that the part I used is just the first verse.

    Nada te turbe;
    nada te espante;
    todo se pasa;
    Dios no se muda,
    la pacïencia
    todo lo alcanza.
    Quien a Dios tiene,
    nada le falta.
    Solo Dios basta.

    Eleva tu pensamiento,
    al cielo sube,
    por nada te acongojes,
    ''nada te turbe.''

    A Jesucristo sigue
    con pecho grande,
    y, venga lo que venga,
    ''nada te espante.''

    ¿Ves la gloria del mundo?
    Es gloria vana;
    nada tiene de estable,
    ''todo se pasa.''

    Aspira a lo celeste,
    que siempre dura;
    fiel y rico en promesas,
    ''Dios no se muda.''

    Ámala cual merece
    bondad inmensa;
    pero no hay amor fino
    sin ''la paciencia.''

    Confianza y fe viva
    mantenga el alma,
    que quien cree y espera
    ''todo lo alcanza.''

    Del infierno acosado
    aunque se viere,
    burlará sus furores
    ''quien a Dios tiene.''

    Vénganle desamparos,
    cruces, desgracias;
    siendo Dios tu tesoro
    ''nada le falta.''

    Id, pues, bienes del mundo;
    id dichas vanas;
    aunque todo lo pierda,
    ''solo Dios basta.''

  6. Beautiful,
    Absolutamente bello!

    I just printed out this poem and my mom loved it, I have learned to relax and leave what is beyond my reach to God. I feel better now, I feel protected.

    The way she writes is very general, almost similar to the way I write, which sometimes bothers my teachers. They want me to include more details, I agree with them, but in her case works perfectly for God.

    The movie is very emotional, but it happened to me something strange while watching it. I cried but not because I was in pain, it was something else, I only cry like that when it comes to God.

    The choose to be martyrs, everything was tough but they decided to stand up like disciplines of Christ. That's why even though they died I knew they would have special place in heaven.

    I really liked your pronunciation is Spanish, the guitar was beautiful as well. I noticed that you sound more comfortable, that makes a great difference, a good one.

    I could almost hear this song in a choir, it would sound great.

    Good bless you!

  7. Hi Ride. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your comments. I am someone who feeds off of encouragement.

    Someday I will see "Of Gods and Men" after reading about how much the movie moved you. I've read some reviews and watched some trailers. It looks like it is a beautifully produced movie.

    If you want to hear a different version of "Nada le turbe" which was done with a choir, you can listen to this version:

    I had never heard this version before writing mine, but it has an odd similarity which is not just the words. I used to sing in a choir. I really enjoyed it. I'm trying to imagine my version sung by a choir. I can almost hear it in my mind. When I was composing it I had something like Caetano Veloso in mind.

    I do feel more comfortable singing now. It is a combination of a better microphone with a better setup and becoming familiar with the recording software, and having more confidence in my singing and guitar playing. Thanks.

  8. I love this song! it's so wonderful I am crying

  9. For those who don't know Brandee, you can "meet" her through her YouTube channel:

    Hi Brandee. I'm very glad you liked it. You're very blessed to be entering a Carmelite monastery. I'm sure you will be very happy there. You deserve all the credit for persevering in your dream of becoming a Carmelite nun. Do you know that you are the first Carmelite nun that I have ever communicated with? I know you are not officially a nun yet, but I think we shall have to start calling you Sister Brandee. Do you have a name picked out for when you officially become a nun?

    I have started attending meetings of a 3rd order Carmelite group. It never even occurred to me when I was younger to enter a religious order. Recently I have been wondering if that should have been my true calling, but I'm too old for that now. And the Church was going through all the changes of Vatican II when I was younger, so maybe it's just as well. I hope that the order you are going to is strictly orthodox in its teachings and practices. The Church has gone through enough experimentation and needs to get back to its traditional roots.

    You can stop crying now :)