MattAndJojang's Blog

God. Life. Spirituality.

One Dark Night

with 9 comments

One Dark Night is John Michael Talbot’s translation of St. John of the Cross’s poem Dark Night of the Soul, which he set into music. Together with the Spiritual Canticle, both poems are considered masterpieces of Spanish poetry.

In fact, St. John of the Cross is considered as Spain’s greatest poet.

Ironically, he didn’t set out to be a poet. He was first of all a saint and a mystic. He wrote his poems as an expression of his intense love God, as well as the basis of his spiritual teaching, which he later put into writing.

His poems, as well as his spiritual teachings are well known for its depth and beauty.

Throughout the centuries, his poems and spiritual writings has influenced authors, artists, theologians, philosophers, and spiritual seekers like T.S. Eliot, Thomas Merton, Jacques Maritain, and Salvador Dali. Pope John Paul II wrote his doctoral dissertation  on the mystical theology of St. John of the Cross.

Here’s John Michael Talbot’s translation, which also serve as the lyrics of the song One Dark Night:

One dark night
Fired with love’s urgent longings
Ah, the sheer grace
In the darkness
I went out unseen
My house being all now still

In the darkness
Secured by love’s secret ladder
Oh, the sheer grace
In the darkness
And in my concealment
My house being all now still

On that glad night
In the secret, for no one saw me
Nor did I see any other thing at all
With no other light to guide me
Than the light burning in my heart

And this light guided me
More surely than the light of the noon
To where he lay waiting for me
Waiting for me
Him I knew so well
In a place where no one else appeared

Oh guiding night
A light more lovely than the dawn
A night that has united
Ever now
The Lover now with his beloved
Transforming two now into one

Upon my flowering breast
There he lay sleeping
Which I kept for him alone
And I embraced him
And I caressed him
In a breeze blowing from the forest

And when this breeze blew in from the forest
Blowing back our hair
He wounded my soul
With his gentle hand
Suspending all my senses

I abandoned, forgetting myself
Laying my face on my Beloved
All things ceasing, I went out from myself
To leave cares
Forgotten with the lilies of the field


9 Responses

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  1. What a perfect posting for the beginning of Lent. I’ve not read it in years, and I’m glad to be reminded of it, especially with such a lovely musical setting.


    February 20, 2015 at 3:03 am

  2. Yes, it such a beautiful poem, Linda. To my mind, of all the poems that St. John of the Cross has written — this stands out as his masterpiece. I haven’t also read his poems, as well as his spiritual writings, for a long time. During this time of Lent, I’m planning to reread The Ascent of Mount Carmel and its companion volume Dark Night of the Soul, which contains the verse-by-verse exposition of this poem…



    February 20, 2015 at 9:32 am

  3. Reblogged this on Blog at The Raft and commented:
    Sung translation of John of the Cross, “One Dark Night”


    February 21, 2015 at 2:16 am

  4. Thank you – John


    February 21, 2015 at 2:17 am

  5. You’re welcome, John. Thank you, too, for taking the time to visit our blog…



    February 21, 2015 at 12:30 pm

  6. Just returned from some time spent working in the woods – A perfect epilogue. Thanks Matt.

    Senan of Somerset

    February 28, 2015 at 3:55 pm

  7. Hi, Senan! Good to hear from you. I’m sure your time in the woods has been also a time of solitude, prayer and reflection A very apt thing to do during this season of Lent. Also, when you mentioned that you spent time in the woods, it reminded me of this Thoreau quote:

    I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

    Glad you liked St. John of the Cross’s poem Dark Night of the Soul. He is one of my favorite mystics and poets. His poems are simply unmatched in beauty and depth. Although his prose could be sometimes long-winded, his teachings, especially on the Dark Night (which is a metaphor for both faith and suffering), has been a source of inspiration to me. It was through his teachings on the Dark Night that I found meaning in my almost 13 years of chronic illness.

    I hope all’s well with you. I and my wife, Jojang, always include you when we pray the Liturgy of Hours…



    March 1, 2015 at 12:48 pm

  8. Thank you Matt for your comments and prayers. I think it was you who first quoted this :-

    “The Kingdom of God is available to you in the here and the now. But the question is whether you are available to the Kingdom. Our practice is to make ourselves ready for the Kingdom so that it can manifest in the here and the now. You don’t need to die in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. In fact, you have to be truly alive in order to do so.” Thich Nhat Hanh

    But it’s worth reading again. My time in the woods was good but I’m always conscious in talking about it, in that your own situation limits your access to such places. However I hope on this occasion you won’t mind me sharing a little. Often my meditations focus on natures fine detail – a simple raindrop on leaf, however this time the howling wind and lashing rain was the theme.

    The Breath of God

    Sheltered from the howling wind
    I listen to it call
    And hear it say quite clear to me
    I must now have it all

    I pray the spirit fill me now
    And fill me to the brim
    Until my cup will overflow
    In a sea of love I swim

    And as this stream of life flows on
    I ask that it take care
    As silt and rock and washed away
    And leaves my soul laid bare

    Listening on to wind and wave
    This power now stills my heart
    The Breath of God, it’s power to save
    New life and strength impart.

    God bless you loads Matt and Jo

    Senan of Somerset.

    Senan of Somerset

    March 1, 2015 at 2:46 pm

  9. You’re welcome, Senan.

    I’ve forgotten about the quote, but it’s always good to be reminded. A very Christian message written by a Buddhist! And a theme very close to my heart — the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is not something we have to experience after our life here on earth. Jesus said: “The Kingdom of God is at hand!” It is as close as our hands! It’s right here where we are, at this very moment! In fact, Jesus also said: “The Kingdom of God is within you!”

    When I was younger and healthier, I use to go to the mountains, just to be by myself, to pray and reflect. We live in a mountainous area, 5,000 feet above sea level, with a temperate climate (spring weather with temperatures ranging from 55ºF – 75ºF) all the year round. I miss those times.

    It’s always a joy to read your poems. Needless to say, I don’t mind if you share it with me. I love reading poems about nature, being a nature lover myself. For me, they’re reflections of the presence of God. In fact, I’ve also written a haiku about the wind (The Sound of the Wind)!

    Thank you for sharing. As always, beautiful! Moving! Inspiring!




    March 2, 2015 at 1:37 pm

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