For you English-speakers, the above title is probably super-confusing. And that makes me happy. Why? Because if you weren’t confused, I wouldn’t have a blog post. =)
*IMPORTANT NOTE: The conclusion I draw is not to detract from the truth and beauty of either translation of “dame a Jesús.” I love both meanings.*
First, let’s get the pronunciation right. We are not speaking English. Say it like you speak Spanish.
(1) A’s sound like “ah” like when you stick your tongue out at the doctor’s office
(2) E’s sound like “ay” as in hay or May
(3) U’s sound like “oo” as in tooth
(4) J’s sound like H’s–Thus, “Je” sounds like “hay”
So… something like this: “Dahmay ah Haysoos.”
Got it? If not, that’s because you just need to listen to a Spanish-speaker (who is moaning and writhing on the floor in pain from the horrible pronunciation guide). Go… find that person. That wonderful friend will set you straight and probably make me look dumb. But that’s ok. Why? Because this is totally not the point of my post. Let’s move on.
What in the world could that phrase–Dame a Jesús–mean? Well, it comes from a song (“Give Me Jesus”) I learned in English, loved, and decided to learn in Spanish. After searching the Internet for a good translation, I was struck by the interesting way that phrase was translated. It seems easy at first: Jesús means Jesus, dame means “give me.” Then comes this one little letter, one simple word: “a.” In English, the word “a” has one function: an article for a noun. In Spanish, this little word can function in a couple different ways. Now, maybe my Spanish is not good enough to be right on this, but when I look at this phrase, I see two ways it could be interpreted. And both ways are good. One just happens to strike me as more beautiful because the song in English doesn’t capture a certain meaning.
First, we have the meaning that will give us the English phrase “give me Jesus.” How, you may be wondering, can we translate to that phrase? Dame translates to the first to words, and Jesús is Jesus. Doesn’t the “a” throw off the translation? No. In this translation, “a” is simply an extra word that must be added when you are talking about a specific person. It is called a “personal a.” There is no English word that equates. It’s just something you have to know in Spanish. So, using this understanding, we get the phrase “give me Jesus.”
Second, we have the translation that I prefer. In this case, the word “a” is more than a “filler” word. The word “a” translates as “to.” Using this translation, “dame a Jesús” means “give me to Jesus.” Wow! That is amazing! Maybe you don’t see it that way… yet. Let me explain why this stopped me in my tracks.
See, the song is talking about different parts of life: in the morning, in solitude, at death. While I love the gift of Jesus and the salvation He brings, there is something beautiful about being brought to Jesus. To be held in His arms, to see the scars all over Him, to rest in His love. To dance with Him, safe in His arms.
Yeah… It’s beautiful. Maybe this is just me, but I would much rather be brought in my weak humanity to the great love of Jesus than clamoring like children begging for Jesus to be given to them. While both translations are good on their own, the comparison in my mind brought new depth to this already beautiful song. May I never be found trying to hold Jesus when He will hold me. Let me never be found trying to lead my Lord; rather let me be found resting safe in His arms. Dame a Jesús. Dios te bendiga.