Las estrellas (The Stars)


This song was written down, based on a few lines of Psalm 147, by Emilie Teresa Smith, an Argentine-Canadian Anglican Priest who has deep roots in Guatemala. Currently Emilie is the Parish Priest of St. Barnabas Anglican Church on the unceded territory of the Qayqayt people (New Westminster, B.C.), and the co-President of the liberation-theology network, SICSAL (The Oscar Romero International Christian Network in Solidarity with the Peoples of Latin America -- Abya Yala).

This song was arranged and recorded (link below) by Emilie's wife, Patti Powell, a beloved singer, musician and community choir director on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples (Vancouver B.C.). Patti is a leader of the Vancouver-area Sacred Singing Circle and a member of the Ubuntu Choir Network.

This is a song for naming, for remembering our own belonging and belovedness, for remembering that we are connected to the whole Cosmos, which was created by the Breath of Life. It could be a baptism song, or a song for the time of sacred darkening, or in the season of Epiphany. In the Revised Common Lectionary Psalm 147 falls on the Fifth Sunday After the Epiphany. The Psalm states: The Holy One gathers the outcasts of Israel. The Holy One heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. The Holy One determines the number of the stars; and gives to all of them their names.

It could be sung without instruments or accompanied on a cuatro, a classic instrument of the Spanish countries along the Caribbean basin -- in this case Patti used a ukulele.

Has contado las estrellas (2x)
Las has nombrado. (4x)

You have counted the stars, 
you have given them their names. 

Translation note: We use the familiar term of "you", in Spanish -- either Tu, or in Guatemala, and Argentina, still the very tender: Vos (thou). But at any rate, the pronoun is dropped, as this is known by the state of the verb. The 'h" in has is silent. Thank you to my sister, Margarita Kenefic, for (always) checking and correcting my Spanish composition.

Theological Context from Emilie:

Las estrellas es una canción que marca y celebra lo grande que es nuestro Creador. Este misterio -- que no se puede nombrar-- es más grande que el mismo universo entero. Es el poder de la explosión del cosmos y al mismo tiempo el impulso de ternura. Su lenguage es el amor.

Nuestro creador, el creador de todo lo que hay, nos conoce, nos nombra. Antes de ver la cara de nuestra mamá o de nuestro papá Dios nos conoce y nos ama. Es un amor imborrable.

Esta pequeña canción está basada en dos líneas del salmo 147, palabras escritas por nuestras tatara-tatara abuelas y abuelos cuando vieron el cielo lleno de luces y entendieron el misterio que nuestro DIOS nos conoce, nos ama, nos ha nombrado al igual que a las estrellas.

The stars is a song that marks and celebrates the grandness of our Creator. This unnameable mystery is greater than the entire universe itself. It is the power of the explosion of the cosmos and at the same time the impulse towards tenderness. The Creator’s language is love.

Our creator, the maker of everything there is, knows us, names us. Before seeing the face of our mother or father, God knows us and loves us. It is an indelible love.

This small song is based on two lines from Psalm 147, words written by our great-great grandmothers and grandfathers when they saw the sky full of lights and understood the mystery that our GOD knows us, loves us, has named us as the stars have been named.


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  • Paul Vasile
    responded with submitted 2020-09-08 22:10:14 -0400

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