Let nothing disturb thee,
Nothing affright thee;
All things are passing;
God never changeth!
Patient endurance attaineth to all things;
Who God possesseth in nothing is wanting;
Alone God sufficeth.
Here we have a benediction written by a Carmelite nun in the 16th century, but included in the Salvation Army Song Book, with a tune by a Salvationist 20th century composer, Charles Skinner. The words were translated into English by a 19th century American, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Truly an international, time-spanning hymn!
Teresa of Avila, Spain, was a woman of considerable devotion and initiative. She entered a convent in 1535, and twenty-five years later began to plan the reform of the Carmelite order. She wished to bring it back to the simplicity and austerity of its origins. Saint Teresa founded the first reformed Carmelite convent at Avila, followed by ten more convents, after securing the approval of her superiors. Then she encountered some opposition to her work, but eventually she founded four more convents. She wrote four books about her spiritual philosophy and her life.
Well-known poet Henry Longfellow was the brother of hymnwriter Samuel Longfellow. Henry was born in 1807 in Portland, Maine and educated at Bowdoin College. Then he studied in France, Spain, Italy and Germany for four years, before becoming professor of modern languages and librarian at Bowdoin College, 1829-35. He was well-qualified to translate Teresa’s poem! Longfellow returned to Europe for further study and became professor of modern languages and belleslettres at Harvard in 1835. His first published poem appeared in the Gazette of Maine in 1820.
Charles Skinner was a British Salvation Army officer and a noted composer of brass band music, as well as music for songster brigades (choirs). He was the editor-in-chief of the Salvation Army’s International Music Editorial Department from 1958-67.