Two parts of the August 4th worship service at Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church were especially meaningful for me.
The first was the congregational unison Prayer of Confession that spoke to the sin of pride that infects most of us in these times. The words went as follows:
- “Oh Lord, we come before you, knowing that even in our vast knowledge we remain ignorant of ourselves, deceiving and blinding ourselves. We lose hold of that knowledge given us at creation, of God’s generous and continuing favor toward us, and of the original nobility that God bestowed upon our ancestor Adam. When we do remember our great gifts, we think of them as belonging to us alone, in boasting and self-assurance, when we ought instead to honor those gifts among our neighbors, for Scripture bids us to esteem others above ourselves, and to apply ourselves wholly to doing them good. We despise others, and forget that in despising them we despise ourselves, for we re together made in the image of God.”
The second part of the service was the hymn Tu Has Venido a la Orilla (Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore), whose gentle melody is reminiscent of a rocking boat by a lakeshore and which is easy to sing. Its lyrics are based upon Matthew 4: 18-20, when Jesus encountered two fishermen (Peter and Andrew) casting their net into the Sea of Galilee and asked them to follow him and be fishers of men and women.The lyrics go on to urge us to do the same.
Here are the words of its refrain as translated into English: “O Lord, with Your eyes You have searched me, And, while smiling, have called out my name. Now my boat’s left on the shoreline behind me, Now with You I will seek other seas.” The four verses go as follows:
- “You have come up to the lakeshore, Looking neither for wise nor wealthy.You only wanted that I should follow.” (Refrain)
- “You know that I own so little, In my boat there’s no money or weapons, You’ll only find there my nets and labor.” (Refrain)
- “You need the caring of my hands.Through my tiredness, may others find resting. You need a love that just goes on loving.”(Refrain)
- “You, who have fished other oceans, Ever longed for by souls that are waiting, My dear and good friend, as thus You call me.”(Refrain)
The Presbyterian Hymnal also contains the original Spanish verses. While most of the Westminster congregants sing the English version, some sing the Spanish. With my very rudimentary Spanish language skills, I softly sang the Spanish words to remind me of my one trip to Spain and many others to Latin America and of my friends throughout the latter region. It thus becomes for me a song of solidarity.
This hymn was written in 1979 by Cesáreo Gabaráin (1936-1991), a Spanish Roman Catholic priest and composer of over 500 liturgical songs. He also held the position of Chaplain Prelate for Pope John Paul II.
One thought on “A Prayer and a Spanish Hymn at Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church”
I’ve loved that lyrical Spanish hymn since it was first published in the Presbyterian hymnal. I had heard it sung in a campesino liberation worship service in Nicaragua and never thought I would see it in official Presbyterian print. Do you remember when Gordon, David, and I sang it in a trio at a congregational dinner? It was a beautiful moment when the three of us pastors made harmony IN SPANISH! Serendipitously, my congregation in San Francisco sang the same hymn the Sunday before in our hymn-sing worship service.
Erwin Barron (former assoc. pastor)