Rorate Caeli

Saint Teresa of Jesus - 500
- I - I was born for Thee

It is quite hard to translate and keep both a reasonable identity of meaning between the original version and the translated text. With poetry, this is much harder. With devotional poetry, even more. And it is almost unimaginably difficult to do all that while remaining under the obligation to prevent any doctrinal error from creeping into the translation of a thoroughly orthodox text.

So all our gratitude to the nuns of the former Stanbrook Abbey for the great effort they put over 100 years ago in the translation of some of the deepest works of Saint Teresa of Avila, her poems, the greatest jewel of the Golden Age of Spanish Arts and Literature (el Siglo de Oro), that cultural apotheosis of Catholic civilization. As we approach the 500th anniversary of her birthday (March 28, 1515), let us get nearer to the Lord this Lent in her own words.

Vuestra soy, para Vos nací
I am Thine, I was born for Thee

Vuestra soy, para Vos nací,
¿qué mandáis hacer de mí?

Soberana Majestad,
eterna sabiduría,
bondad buena al alma mía;
Dios alteza, un ser, bondad,
la gran vileza mirad
que hoy os canta amor así:
¿qué mandáis hacer de mí?

Vuestra soy, pues me criastes,
vuestra, pues me redimistes,
vuestra, pues que me sufristes,
vuestra pues que me llamastes,
vuestra porque me esperastes,
vuestra, pues no me perdí:
¿qué mandáis hacer de mí?

¿Qué mandáis, pues, buen Señor,
que haga tan vil criado?
¿Cuál oficio le habéis dado
a este esclavo pecador?
Veisme aquí, mi dulce Amor,
amor dulce, veisme aquí:
¿qué mandáis hacer de mí?

Veis aquí mi corazón,
yo le pongo en vuestra palma,
mi cuerpo, mi vida y alma,
mis entrañas y afición;
dulce Esposo y redención,
pues por vuestra me ofrecí:
¿qué mandáis hacer de mí?

Dadme muerte, dadme vida:
dad salud o enfermedad,
honra o deshonra me dad,
dadme guerra o paz crecida,
flaqueza o fuerza cumplida,
que a todo digo que sí:
¿qué mandáis hacer de mí?

Dadme riqueza o pobreza,
dad consuelo o desconsuelo,
dadme alegría o tristeza,
dadme infierno o dadme cielo,
vida dulce, sol sin velo,
pues del todo me rendí:
¿qué mandáis hacer de mí?

Si queréis, dadme oración,
si no, dadme sequedad,
si abundancia y devoción,
y si no esterilidad.
Soberana Majestad,
sólo hallo paz aquí:
¿qué mandáis hacer de mi?

Dadme, pues, sabiduría,
o por amor, ignorancia;
dadme años de abundancia,
o de hambre y carestía;
dad tiniebla o claro día,
revolvedme aquí o allí:
¿qué mandáis hacer de mí?

Si queréis que esté holgando,
quiero por amor holgar.
Si me mandáis trabajar,
morir quiero trabajando.
Decid, ¿dónde, cómo y cuándo?
Decid, dulce Amor, decid:
¿qué mandáis hacer de mí?

Dadme Calvario o Tabor,
desierto o tierra abundosa;
sea Job en el dolor,
o Juan que al pecho reposa;
sea viña fructuosa
o estéril, si cumple así:
¿qué mandáis hacer de mí?

Sea José puesto en cadenas,
o de Egipto adelantado,
o David sufriendo penas,
o ya David encumbrado;
sea Jonás anegado,
o libertado de allí:
¿qué mandáis hacer de mí?

Esté callando o hablando,
haga fruto o no le haga,
muéstreme la ley mi llaga,
goce de Evangelio blando;
esté penando o gozando,
sólo vos en mí vivid:
¿qué mandáis hacer de mí?

Vuestra soy, para vos nací,
¿qué mandáis hacer de mí?

Lord, I am Thine, for I was born for Thee !
Reveal what is it Thou dost ask of me.

O sovereign Lord, of majesty supreme !
O Wisdom, that existed from all time !
Bounty, showing pity on my soul !
God, one sole Being, merciful, sublime.
Behold this basest of created things.
As thus, with hardihood its love it sings.
And tell me, Lord, what Thou dost ask of me !

Lo, I am Thine ! Thou hast created me :
And I am Thine, Thou hast redeemed me :
And I am Thine, for Thou dost bear with me.
And Thine, for Thou hast called me to Thee,
And Thine, Who dost preserve me at Thy cost
Nor leavest me to perish 'mid the lost
Say what it is, Lord, Thou dost will of me.

Declare what dost decree, O Master kind !
If serf so vile have any fitting task,
And tell what office by Thy will ordained
Is work that from so base a slave dost ask !
Behold, sweet Love, I wait for Thy command,
Behold me. Lord, before Whose face I stand !
Do Thou reveal what Thou dost will of me ?

Behold my heart, which here I bring, and in
Thine hand as glad entire free-offering lay,
Together with my body, life, and soul,
The love, the longings that my being sway !
To Thee, Redeemer and most gentle Spouse,
In willing holocaust I pledge my vows.
What is there. Lord, that I may do for Thee ?

Bestow long life, or straightway bid me die ;
Let health be mine, or pain and sickness send,
With honour or dishonour ; be my path
Beset by war, or peaceful till the end.
My strength or weakness be as Thou shalt choose.
For naught Thou askest shall I e'er refuse,
I only wish what Thou wilt have of me.

Assign me riches, keep in poverty,
And let me cherished or neglected dwell,
In joy or mourning as Thou wilt, upraised
To highest heaven, or hurled down to hell !
Whether the sky be bright, from cloudlets free,
It matters not, I leave the choice to Thee,
What lot, Lord, wilt Thou decide for me ?

Give contemplation if Thou wilt, or let
My lonely soul in dryness ever pine ;
Abundance and devotion be the gift
Thou choosest, or a sterile soul be mine !
Majesty supreme, in naught apart
From Thy decree can I find peace of heart !
Say what it is, Lord, Thou dost wish of me ?

Lord, give me wisdom, or, if love demand.
Leave me in ignorance ; it matters naught
If mine be years of plenty, or beset
With famine direful and with parching drought !
Be darkness over all or daylight clear.
Despatch me hither, keep me stationed here,
Say what it is, Lord, Thou wilt have of me ?

If Thou shouldst destine me for happiness,
For Love's sake, joy and happiness I greet ;
Bid me endure and labour till I die.
Resigned, in work and pain my death I'll meet,
Reveal the how, the where, the when ; for this
Is the sole boon, O Love, I crave of Thee,
That thou declare what Thou wouldst have of me !

Let Calvary or Thabor be my fate,
A desert or a fertile land of rest ;
Like Job, in sorrow let me mourning weep,
Or lie, like John, in peace upon Thy breast ;
Bear fruit and flourish, or, a withered vine
I'll perish fruitless, so the choice be Thine !
Reveal, O Lord, what Thou dost ask of me !

Like Joseph as he lay in shackles bound.
Or holding over Egypt first command ;
David chastised, atoning for his sins,
Or David crowned as ruler o'er the land ;
With Jonas struggling, 'mid the raging sea
Submerged, or set from ills and tempests free
Declare, O Lord, what Thou wilt have of me !

Then bid me speak or bid me silence keep,
Make me a fecund or a barren land ;
Expose my wounds by the stern Law's decree
Or comfort me by Gospel message bland.
Let me in torture lie or comfort give,
I crave alone that Thou within me live,
And shouldst reveal what Thou wilt have of me !

Lord, I am Thine, for I was born for Thee !
Reveal what is it Thou dost ask of me.