Saturday, December 02, 2006

Souviens-toi, mon enfant (Remember, My Child)

This is a song from the French LDS hymnal--it is my favorite. I am not sure why our English version does not have it. It is sung to the melody from Dvorak's "New World Symphony." The English translation is courtesy of yours truly.

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
Remember, my child : not long ago,
your divine parents held you in their arms.
Today you are here, marvelously present.
Your gaze still shines with the reflection of heaven.
Talk to me, my child, about that blessed place,
because for you the veil is still thin.

Remember, my child, the forests, the cities.
Can we down here imagine them?
And the night sky, is it rosy or gray?
Is the sun waiting for snow or rain?
Describe to me, my child, the color of the meadows
and the birdsongs of a forgotten world.

Remember, my child: at the dawn of time,
we were friends playing in the wind.
Then one day in joy we chose to accept
the Lord’s grand plan of life.
That night, my child, we promised through love,
and through faith, to be reunited.

To those who are unfamiliar with LDS (Latter-Day Saint, aka Mormon) theology, I'll briefly explain a few things that this hymn mentions:
1: Pre-mortal existence: we believe that we are eternal beings and that we existed before earth life. We chose to come to earth to obtain physical bodies, to gain experience and knowledge, and to prove to God whether or not we would remain true to the things we had accepted in our premortal existence. Hence the references to knowing our earthly children before this life and the wistful yearning for the world in which we used to live.
2: Heavenly Parents: unlike other Christian faiths, we believe that we also have a Heavenly Mother, that God does not exist without a Goddess alongside him. Eliza R. Snow, one of the most well-known LDS poets, penned these lines that summarize our idea of a Heavenly Mother. (The poem was later set to music and included in the LDS hymnal):
“In the heavens are parents single?
No, the thought makes reason stare.
Truth is reason, truth eternal
Tells me I’ve a Mother there.”


  1. Rixa, I am so moved. I'd like to share some things that flooded my mind while reading this. Though I can't say I gave it much thought beforehand, ever since Gabriel's with us, I just *know* that what you call pre-mortal existence is real. My child's arrival led me to see this. I've also been having an amazing experience with a goddess: my women's choir (not affiliated witha church) that I sing in performs Psalm 23 in 4-part harmony, in the feminine: that is we use "she" for third person pronouns and in the last verse, we sing "glory be to the Mother, the Daughter and the Holy of Holies" and that feels so complete and perfect. This works for some of us as feminists, for others it's a deeper spiritual thing as well. But I had no idea there is Heavenly Mother in LDS. It was about time someone enlightened me!

  2. I love this, too. I used to sing it to Ethan every night and it was his favorite lullaby for a long time. My favorite is when he sings along... Good choice!

  3. Judit, your comment is very touching. The idea of a Heavenly Mother might seem radical to some people, but to me it's like "well of course!!" LOL

    I drew a lot of strength and reassurance from my knowledge of Heavenly Mother during this pregnancy, especially when I would meditate and visualize the upcoming birth. It helps to know that there's a woman "up there," especially as we prepare for such momentous female life events.

  4. This is a beautiful song -- one that I enjoy singing to my children. It's too bad the translation doesn't do the beauty of the French words justice; it's too bad I can't do any better.

  5. Rixa,
    Got your comment thru the breastfeeding carnival. Thanks for sharing the hymn--I'd just read about the "Heavenly
    Mother"of LDS theology.

  6. Thanks for the translation. Do you know the copyright of the French lyrics? Was it originally written in French?

    If the original lyrics are public domain, may I have permission to versify your translation to the tune and post it up on for everyone to use freely as if it were public domain?

  7. Never mind my previous comment, actually. It looks like the French linguistic committee of the church did the lyrics. That probably means I'd have to get written permission from the church to do anything with them. The music appears to be public domain - unless the parts or the arrangement is different from the original.

  8. I'd be interested in a versification of this hymn since I love it so much! I don't care if there are any rhymes (actually I don't like rhyming verse in English) but I'd love to be able to sing this in both languages. If you do write one, please send it my way!!

  9. This is a late comment that may never see the light of readership. I'm commenting because I just got acquainted with this hymn about a half hour ago. I've been called to serve in a branch presidency at the Missionary Training Center in Provo. The missionaries I work with are learning French. I just visited the missionaries in their residence hall, and we prayed and sang a hymn together. They chose cantique numero 179, "Souviens-toi, mon enfant." I came to your site to find a version of the words I could print off and share with my wife. Merci bien!

    1. Hi brother Young! I was in the MTC in your branch February thru April '07. Guess the world's pretty small.

  10. Hi Bruce,

    Good luck with your work in the MTC! I love this hymn so much...I hope your wife enjoys the lyrics.

  11. Okay, this comment is SO late. You don't know me. But, I was wondering if you knew where I could download this song. I have looked EVERYWHERE and have had no luck. Maybe you would know.

  12. I don't know where you could download it. Have you tried the church website? Sorry I can't be of more help!

  13. I randomly found your blog with this song that I was searching for. does not have the mp3 for it nor was the pdf file working. I heard it sung in the MTC and it has since been one of my favorites. It is early in the morning where I am at and I have been hanging out with my son who was born on Tuesday April 15, and who came home yesterday. Thank you for having this on your blog.

  14. Recently the church posted many of the French hymns online. You can get a .pdf of the words and music as it appears in the hymnbook for this hymn at:,17631,7385-1,00.html
    and scroll down to "S--Souviens-toi - #179"

    Steven Sharp Nelson recently released a beautiful CD that I just bought, that contains a rendition of this piece (music only, and modified, but it's beautiful!)

    Presently he even has a full-length preview to several of his songs, including this one at his website (just skip till "New World" if you'd like--the others are beautiful too). It's at:


  15. I found a beautiful adaptation of this song into english. I have fallen in love with this hymn while serving a mission in france. Thanks for posting it. See:

  16. I was told a story about this song that has always touched me. A woman woke up in the middle of the night with these lyrics, so she wrote them down and composed a song. A few years later, or maybe a year...adoption papers finally went through and she welcomed to her family her new baby boy. She found out that her boy was born that night she was inspired to write this song... :) true story.

  17. I just found this post. Beautiful! I am definitely interested in hearing and learning this song. Thanks so much for sharing, Rixa! (I just shared this link on my facebook page.)

  18. Thanks for posting the lyrics. This was definitely one of my favorite hymns during my time in Quebec. Beautiful sentiment set to a haunting melody. I tried to sing it to my son last night at bedtime but couldn't get past 2-3 lines.

  19. Thank you so much for translating this. I heard the hymn from a French missionary in the Canary Islands and fell in love with it.
    Now I'm the choir director of my ward in AZ and did a internet search for the translation. Surprise! You did all the work for me. (As if I could've done it on my own..HA!)
    This looks like a really uplifting blog. Keep up the good work.

  20. Just a note. The versified translation posted earlier takes out one of the best aspects of the hymn - its reference to heavenly parents. Instead of heavenly parents it reverts to Heavenly Father. I think it would be sad if we lost the reference to Heavenly Mother in the hymn.

  21. Hello,

    I read with interest this article. I too love the hymn Souviens-Toi. While a student in translation several years ago, I translated this hymn into English, and a brother in my ward added a fourth verse. The lyrics were sent to Salt Lake, and I received a letter saying they were being kept for future consideration. Who knows, maybe it will be included in the English Hymn Book one day. You can see my translation at

    I would love to hear what you think. Have a great day.

  22. Hi Rixa- I heard this hymn over 10 years ago when I was on a trip to Montreal. My friend and I ended up spending a lot of time with the missionaries, and the sang it to us and gave us a rough translation. I thought it was so beautiful, and I have been searching for it ever since, but I couldn't remember enough about it. I was so excited when a friend who speaks french helped me find it today. The funny thing is, your blog looked familiar. I realized that I have visited before while I was reading, "The Gift of Giving Life". I loved that book, and I think this song ties in beautifully with the messages of our Heavenly parents and our potential to be Heavenly Parents one day.


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