Quote of the day, 2 January: St. Teresa of Avila

We had a great feast yesterday for the Holy Name of Jesus; may God reward you.

I don’t know what to send you for all you do for me except these carols [villancicos] I composed, for my confessor [Alonso Velázquez] gave me orders to bring some happiness to the sisters.

I spent the past evenings with them, and I didn’t know how to bring them joy except with these. They have a delightful sound—it would be nice if Francisquito [the elder of Lorenzo’s two sons] could sing them. See if I’m not making good progress!

Nonetheless, the Lord has granted me many favors during these days.

Saint Teresa of Avila

Letter 172 to her brother Don Lorenzo de Cepeda in Avila (excerpt)
2 January 1577

Note: Teresian scholar Father Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD notes that Venerable Ana de Jesús Lobera declares that during the Christmas season Teresa would compose words for villancicos, Spanish carols to be sung by the nuns. In Kavanaugh’s edition of Teresa’s Collected Works, Father Adrian J. Cooney, OCD provided an English rendering of Teresa’s poetry, texts that Father Tomás Alvarez, OCD included in his Spanish edition. Father Alvarez indicates that Poem 14, Ya viene el alba (At the Birth of the Infant God) is one of Teresa’s Christmas villancicos.

My Gallejo, look who is coming.
Angels they are, the dawn is nigh.


My ears are ringing
With what seems an old song
Look, Bras, daylight is here.
Let us go to the shepherdess.
My Gallejo, look who is coming.
Angels they are, the dawn is nigh.


Is she a relative of the Mayor,
Or who is this maiden?
God the Father’s daughter,
Glowing starlike.
My Gallejo, look who is coming.
Angels they are, the dawn is nigh.

The original Spanish text follows:

Mi gallejo, mira quién llama.
—Angeles son, que ya viene el alba
.

Hame dado un gran zumbido
que parece cantillana.
Mira Bras, que ya es de día,
vamos a ver la zagala.
Mi gallejo, mira quién llama.
—Angeles son, que ya viene el alba
.

¿Es parienta del alcalde,
o quién es esta doncella?
—Ella es hija de Dios Padre,
relumbra, como una estrella.
Mi gallejo, mira quién llama.
—Angeles son, que ya viene el alba
.

Teresa of Avila, St. 1985, The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K; Rodriguez, O, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Featured image: This detail from a chasuble shows the name of Christ in Greek, shortened into ihs with the Latin inscription, Sit nomen Domini benedictus: “May the Name of the Lord be blessed.” Image credit: Father Lawrence Lew, OP / Flickr (Some rights reserved)

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