Monday, April 15, 2013

Thank you, Antonin Dvorak

I love America. It is still the country that inspired Antonin Dvorak to compose this:


The refrain of the second movement of the New World Symphony wraps around me like a blanket crocheted by my mother. Its gentle ups and downs comfort me like the ridges in the hands of my father. Many songs have borrowed this melody, because of its unique ability to place the peace of home in people's hearts. My favorite song that lovingly borrows from Dvorak is a French LDS hymn called "Souviens-Toi."

Anyone who is Mormon and knows French has probably heard of this hymn; I've seen various LDS people translate it on their blogs. Right now, I am in charge of teaching the 12-13 year old girls at church, and for a recent lesson, I decided that I would attempt my own translation of this song. My main goals were to preserve the spirit of the song as poetically as possible and to have the English words actually fit to the melody and be singable. The French text rhymes, but I felt that rhyme in English came off wrong. I did not translate every single thing word for word, but tried to find the right way to express the same thing in English. This is my offering:

Souviens-toi, mon enfant
Souviens-toi, mon enfant: Tes parents divins
te serraient dans leurs bras, ce temps ne’st pas loin.
Aujourd’hui, tu es là, présent merveilleux,
ton regard brille encore du reflet des cieux.
Parle-moi, mon enfant, de ces lieux bénis
car pour toi est léger le voile d’oubli.

Souviens-toi, mon enfant des bois, des cités.
Pouvons-nous ici-bas les imaginer?
Et le ciel jusqu’au soir, est-il rose ou gris ?
Le soleil attend-il la neige ou la pluie?
Conte-moi, mon enfant, la couleur des prés
et le chant des oiseaux d’un monde oublié.

Souviens-toi, mon enfant : A l’aube des temps,
nous étions des amis jouant dans le vent.
Puis un jour, dans la joie nous avons choisi
d’accepter du Seigneur le grand plan de vie.
Ce soir-là, mon enfant, nous avons promis
par l’amour, par la foi, d’être réunis.
Remember, My Child
Do you know, little one, your parents divine
held you close in their arms not so long ago
Now today, you are here, marvelous, aware
your small face still reflects the bright light of heav’n
Tell me now, little one, of this blessed place
for you make light the veil of forgetfulness

Ponder now, little one, on the woods and towns
Here below, do you think we can picture them?
Was the sky pink or gray at the close of day?
Would the sun, warm and fair, wait for snow or rain?
Tell me now, little one, the hue of the fields
Sing me songs of the birds in a world away

Picture now, little one, at the dawn of time
We were there, best of friends, playing in the wind
Then one day, filled with joy, we both made a choice
To accept, from our Lord, his grand plan of life
That night then, little one, we promised ourselves
By our love, by our faith, we would reunite

It is not perfect, I know. If you know French, you can see how the French is much more beautiful. I did my best. 

This song is a parent--a mother or father--asking a child or infant about what it was like living with Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother before coming to this mortal life. Yes, in the LDS church, we do believe that we have a mother in heaven, as well as a father. We believe that everyone on earth lived as spirits with our heavenly parents before coming to earth and receiving a body. We believe that Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, created a plan whereby everyone on earth could learn, progress, repent, and choose to return to live with our heavenly parents again after this life. This is the Plan of Salvation, or the Plan of Happiness.

On a day like today, I think about the Plan of Salvation. I think about our Heavenly Father, who loves his children. I think about our older brother and Savior, Jesus Christ, who died for us so that we could repent, and return to our heavenly parents. I think about the people who returned home today, when they weren't expecting to, and I weep. 

1 comment:

  1. I first heard this hymn in college when I was living in the Foreign Language Housing. It truly is one of the most beautiful hymns! The tune is like a lullaby and frequently I will hum it to the kids at bedtime even though I don't speak French and can only recall a few of the phrases. The words are beautiful as well, whether in French or translated into English. Although, I am happy to hear it in French even if I don't catch all the meaning. It is just a soul-touching piece.