Welcome to the Unitarian Universalist
Spanish Hymnal Expansion Project


I started putting together this hymnal in 1999 for use in the Spanish language services of the First Unitarian Church of San Jose , California. Knowing little about music, I began photocopying songs from the English hymnal, Singing the Living Tradition and changing the song lyrics into Spanish using Adobe Photoshop. Also, under the penname Efraín Herrera Hanson, I translated various hymns from SLT and elsewhere. I also sought out Spanish language hymnals from other denominations in order to get translations of songs we Unitarians sing, occasionally modifying the lyrics to reflect Unitarian ideas.

As I became increasingly interested in this project, I decided to take music courses at Hartnell College in Salinas, California; and under the guidance of my teacher, Dr. Carl Christensen, I learned a great deal which contributed to the success of this project, especially how to use Finale, a music notation program. Carl, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Monterey Peninsula, has become a good friend and advisor over the years.

Another major effort I made was to include Spanish language songs from Spain or Latin America that reflected UU values. These mostly came from Roman Catholic Liberation Theology songwriters, from the protest movements against dictatorships in such places as Argentina and Chile, and from the traditional folk music of many Spanish-speaking countries. In this I was often aided by Gildardo Suárez Bernal, a music teacher who was at that time the pianist for the Spanish services at First Unitarian in San Jose. I am indebted to Gildardo for his lovely, authentic arrangements based on his knowledge of Latin music.

As the number of songs began to increase, the minister in charge of the Spanish services at First Unitarian, Rev. Lilia Cuervo, began to push for presenting a manuscript to the Unitarian Universalist Association for publication. A hymnal committee was formed consisting of Lilia, Gildardo, Ervin Barrios, who had already made a several beautiful translations of UU hymns, and myself. To make a long story short, we presented a manuscript with 150 songs to the UUA at the General Assembly in Fort Worth in the summer of 2005.

In 2009, the UUA published 75 of these songs in the UUA’s first Spanish-language hymnal with the title Las voces del camino, edited by Ken Herman, music director of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego.

Earlier this year, 2012, I received an email from a small UU congregation in Puerto Rico informing me that this website had been taken down and lamenting the fact because they used the MIDI files I had posted to accompany their congregational singing. My internet service provider soon resolved the technical problems and restored my long-neglected site to the World Wide Web. I have resolved to improve this site and to use it to publish some of the songs that did not make it into Las voces del camino and to present alternate arrangements for some of the Latin American songs that were included. I plan also to seek out more Spanish-language songs for religious liberals. We will see what will come of it.

© 2012 Gaylord E. Smith, last updated on July 9, 2012.