Um ser de luz

Lyrics from “Um ser de luz” by Paulo César Pinheiro, Mauro Duarte, & João Nogueira (1983)

Um dia // One day
Um ser de luz nasceu // A being of light was born
Numa cidade do interior // In a country town
E o menino Deus lhe abençoou // And the divine infant blessed her
De manto branco ao se batizar // In a white blanket upon being baptized
Se transformou num sabiá // She became a sabiá
Dona dos versos de um trovador // Mistress of the verses of a troubadour
E a rainha do seu lugar // And queen of her place

Sua voz então a se espalhar // Her voice then, spreading out
Corria chão // Covered land
Cruzava o mar // Crossed the sea
Levada pelo ar // Carried by the air
Onde chegava espantava a dor // Wherever it arrived it scared pain away
Com a força do seu cantar // With the power of its song

Mas aconteceu um dia // But one day
Foi que o menino Deus chamou // The divine infant beckoned
E ela se foi pra cantar // And she went to sing
Para além do luar // Over beyond the moonlight
Onde moram as estrelas // Where the stars live
E a gente fica a lembrar // And we always remember
Vendo o céu clarear // Watching the sky brighten
Na esperança de vê-la, sabiá // In the hopes of seeing her, sabiá

Sabiá // Sabiá
Que falta faz sua alegria // Oh how your cheer is missing here
Sem você, meu canto agora é só // Without you, my song is just
Melâncolia // Melancholy

Canta meu sabiá,// Sing my sabiá
Voa meu sabiá // Fly my sabiá
Adeus meu sabiá…// Goodbye my sabiá
Até um dia… // Until some day…

— Commentary —


Today – August 12, 2015 – would have been Clara Nunes’s 73rd birthday.

Clara Nunes & Paulo César Pinheiro.
Clara Nunes & Paulo César Pinheiro.

Paulo César Pinheiro recalls meeting Clara Nunes around 1974, through his friend and partner Mauro Duarte. Paulo and Clara married in 1975, and remained married until Clara’s death on April 2, 1983, at age 40.

Clara, who came to Rio from rural Minas Gerais as a teenager, recorded over 20 of Paulo’s compositions, becoming the “mistress” of his verses. Shortly after her death, together with Mauro Duarte and João Nogueira, Paulo wrote “Um ser de luz.” A couple of notes: A sabiá is a thrush with a beautiful song, the national bird of Brazil; “Menino Deus” was one of Paulo’s songs that Clara sang; “in a country town” refers to Clara’s childhood in Minas Gerais.


Trilogia do Alumbramento

Lyrics from Trilogia do Alumbramento: “Súplica” (1979), “O poder da criação” (1980), and “Minha missão” (1981) by João Nogueira and Paulo César Pinheiro

Good Audio Versions: Súplica, O poder da criação, Minha missão


The body, death takes away
The voice vanishes in the wind
Pain rises into the darkness
The name, the works immortalize
Death blesses the spirit, the breeze brings music
Which in life, is always the strongest light
Which illuminates life beyond death
Come to me, oh music, come in the air
Hear my plea from where you are
I know well it may not be the only one
Come to me, oh music, come dry the people’s tears
Everyone already suffers too much, help the world to live in peace

“O poder da criação”

No, no one makes samba just because they choose to
No force in the world interferes with the power of creation
No, it’s not necessary to be happy, nor afflicted
Nor to take refuge in the most beautiful place in search of inspiration
No, it’s a light that comes all of a sudden, with the speed of a falling star
That ignites the mind and the heart
Yes, it makes one think there’s a greater force that guides us
That’s in the air
It comes in the middle of the night, or in the light of day
It comes to torment us

And the poet lets himself be carried away by that magic
And a verse starts to come, and a melody starts to come
And the people begin to sing… Lalalaiá….

“Minha missão”

When I sing, it’s to alleviate my tears
And the tears of those who’ve already suffered so much
When I sing, I feel the radiance of a saint
I’m kneeling at the feet of God
I sing to announce the day, I sing to brighten up the night
I sing to denounce the scourge, I also sing against tyranny
I sing because in a melody I kindle in the heart of the people
The hope for a new world, and the struggle to live in peace

Of the Poder da Criação (power of creation), I’m a continuation
And I want to express gratitude that my Súplica (plea) was heard
I’m a messenger of music
My song is a mission, it has the force of prayer
And I fulfill my duty to those who live in tears
I live to sing, and I sing to live

When I sing, death runs through me
And I belt out a song from my throat
Cause the cicada, when it sings, dies
And wood when it dies, sings

— Interpretation —

João Nogueira and Paulo César Pinheiro (seated) composed over 50 sambas together. They celebrated their partnership with the release of the album Parcerias in 1994, which features 17 of their top hits.
João Nogueira and Paulo César Pinheiro (seated) composed over 50 sambas together. They celebrated their partnership with the release of the album Parcerias in 1994, which features 17 of their top hits.

This trilogy was inspired  by an argument that Paulo César Pinheiro witnessed one day at Odeon Records in Rio de Janeiro. Pinheiro looked on as a grumpy director at the studio scolded a maestro who had let his cigarette ashes fall on the floor. The studio was swank and sparkling; Prince Charles had been flown in to inaugurate it. But as Paulo César Pinheiro watched the tiff between director and maestro, he reflected on how silly it was: The posh studio that the director was so concerned with protecting would be gone one day, and the names on a plaque on the wall, including Prince Charles’s, would fade away. The music that was being recorded there was what really mattered –  it would last forever, and immortalize the artists’ names.

The three songs in the trilogy are dedicated to three essential moments in the process of composing a song: a reverence for music, which inspires the desire to compose; the moment of creation; and the act of singing the song. Continue reading “Trilogia do Alumbramento”