Songs for the Spirit / Canciones para el Espíritu
Robert L. Giron
Best Book for Spiritual Bilingual, Pinnacle Achievement Award-2023
(Given by National Association of Book Entrepreneurs -NABE)
A new ecumenical version of the Psalter, one that will speak to individuals looking for spiritual comfort with a modern sensibility. This is a bilingual: English and Spanish text.
"Songs for the Spirit / Canciones para el Espiritu, Robert L. Giron’s translation of the psalms, is both refreshing to the soul and beautifully crafted. Gone is the sexist language of these ancient prayers, and mercifully gone also is the violence that too often mars their beauty in their original language. Giron has done a service to all who have reverenced the psalms but have avoided them over the years because of their dated language. This new translation will be welcomed not only by religious communities who pray the psalms in common, but also by individuals who have had to pick their way through the psalms, selecting for spiritual comfort only those psalms that speak to a modern sensibility. Readers today can now experience the reverence and joy expressed through Giron’s newly edited translation of all the psalms."
—George Klawitter, CSC, Professor of English, St. Edward's University
"This is an extraordinary book."
—John Shelby Spong, author of Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers in Exile
from Song 118: Thanksgiving
I walk among the dangerous,
yet no harm comes my way.
Trust and confidence, my
pillars today and evermore.
"Soothing to the soul, the author’s translation of the Bible's book of Psalms injects a transcendental tone while staying resolute to the Word. Adapted for the modern reader, Giron’s work is melodious and relatable as it cuts free of the violence and charged language from the original text and sheds light on what is most inspiring from the work. At all times, Giron’s adaptation maintains the integrity of the Psalms, making it a unique read for the layman.
By employing free verse and catering to all backgrounds of spirituality, Giron’s work effectively dives into the essence of walking in the path of the Lord, in his light. From the opening psalm, the author strikes an inclusive note, stating that he who accepts all and condemns none is truly blessed. The language of the Lord, he notes, is love and peace, and those who operate from this standpoint and revere all of nature’s beings are certain to prosper. The cadence and rhythm of each selection, along with its Spanish translation right alongside it, exude harmony and interconnectedness. For those who do read Spanish, the Canciones are a must, but even for those who don’t understand their meaning, simply uttering them aloud phonetically has a calming aura about them.
In a number of the songs, man, the speaker, is pleading to the Lord For Divine Protection [Song 5] and hearing the cries and prayers as his meditation and penance. As the compilation progresses, Giron’s command of poetic language is on full display, with alliterative phrases imbued with similes, metaphors, and imagery that bring the piece to life. Then, the songs probe deeper with questions that pierce the soul and that are directly asking the Lord how bad things can happen to good people. From 'How is it that / the strong / persecute the / weak?' to The Foolish, [Song 14] where the speaker implores God that he is nowhere to be found, although there is a sea of darkness enveloping humanity, Giron explores the depth of faith’s light juxtaposed with all the bad of the material world.
Throughout the work, Giron does an exemplary job of using images to convey tone. For instance, the vision of smoke and fire from the 'Arrows of lightning / shot out from which we / ran' is meant to show not only the consequences of man’s folly and not ascending but also the majesty of God and nature. In other songs, protection and forgiveness are sought while deriding false speech and providing commentary on the fleeting nature of life: 'Another generation will / pass and soon another / will come and go.' Nevertheless, be it earthquakes or hurricanes, cyclones or tornadoes, the devout will not be shaken by the hands of the hypocrite because the Word is their confidence, their direct link to the Lord. Though the work is distinctly unique, it still does justice to the same content present in the Psalms, like mankind’s fall from Paradise. Giron’s efforts come across with grace and clarity, reading like prayers winging their way directly into the heavens."
—by Mihir Shah
RECOMMENDED by the US Review of Books
Robert L. Giron
Robert L. Giron is the author of five collections of poetry and editor of five anthologies. His poetry and fiction have appeared in national and international anthologies among other publications. He was born in Nebraska, but he describes himself as a transplanted Texan, with family roots that go back over four centuries, who lives in Arlington, Virginia. He discovered recently that his ancestry covers most of Europe and the greater Mediterranean area, including Indigenous roots from Mexico/Texas. He describes himself as “just a man of the world.”
About the Translator of "Songs for the Spirit / Canciones para el Espíritu"
Javier Prieto Martinez is a Spanish teacher in Spain with more than ten years of experience in different countries (Europe and Asia). He owns a translation service company that translates works into English, German, Chinese and other languages from Spanish and vice versa. More than fifty books have been translated. He is also a TED speaker and an international consultant.
Giron worked with Javier Prieto Martinez to finalize the translation.