Fear Not the Pain


play mp3 sample: Fear Not the Pain Free PDF

a cappella SATB – words by Rainer Maria Rilke, music Rachel Pollak Kroh – arr. Peter Amidon/Andrew & Hilary Donaldson

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      Fear Not the Pain East End United

Free download. Rachel Pollak Kroh is an artist and printmaker based in Fort Wayne, Indiana (you can see her visual art work at heartellpress.com). She wrote this tune while she was Program Director of Music That Makes Community, a project to develop and renew oral practices of singing together, grounded in a theology of welcome and generosity. Here is Rachel singing it at the at the 2013 MMC Composers’ Retreat in Brattleboro, VT.  Rachel took the lines from the Rilke poem, using the translation by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy. Peter Amidon arranged it, and then Andrew and Hilary Donaldson (Hilary is the Music Director of the East End United Church in Toronto, Canada) changed the last chord from the tonic to a IV chord, which Peter liked so much he made that change here.  The recording is from this Youtube of the East End United Church singers with Hilary directing and (her father) Andrew on guitar. As usual the lyrics from the poem that make up this song are just below.  Below the lyrics are: the original German poem, the translation Rachel used, and three more translations of the same poem.


Fear Not the Pain
from Sonnets to Orpheus, Part One, IV
by Rainer Maria Rilke

Fear not the pain. Let its weight fall back
into the earth;
for heavy are the mountains, heavy are the seas.


in various translations

original German:

O ihr Zärtlichen, tretet zuweilen
in dem Atem, der euch nicht meint,
laß ihn an eueren Wangen sich teilen,
hinter euch zittert er, wieder vereint.

O ihr Seiligen, o ihr Heilen,
die ihr der Anfang der Herzen scheint.
Bogen der Pfeile und Ziele von Pfeilen,
ewiger glänzt euer Lächeln verweint.

Fürchtet euch nicht zu leiden, die Schwere,
gebt sie zurück an der Erde Gewicht;
schwer sind die Berge, schwer sind die Meere.

Selbst die als Kinder ihr pflanztet, die Bäume,
wurden zu schwer längst; ihr trüget sie nicht.
Aber die Lüfte … aber die Räume …

* * *

Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy. © Riverhead, 2005 translation:

You who let yourselves feel: enter the breathing
that is more than your own.
Let it brush your cheeks
as it divides and rejoins behind you.

Blessed ones, whole ones,
you where the heart begins:
You are the bow that shoots the arrows
and you are the target.

Fear not the pain. Let its weight fall back
into the earth;
for heavy are the mountains, heavy the seas.

The trees you planted in childhood have grown
too heavy. You cannot bring them along.
Give yourselves to the air, to what you cannot hold.

* * *

Translated by M.D. Herter Norton
The Norton Library
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. c 1942, 1979; Norton Library 1961:

O you tender ones, step now and then
into the breath that takes no heed of you;
let it part as it touches your cheeks,
it will quiver behind you, united again.

O you who are blessed, o you who are whole,
you who seem the beginning of hearts.
Bows for the arrows and targets of arrows,
tear-stained your smile shines more everlasting.

Fear not the suffering; the heaviness,
give it back to the weight of the earth;
the mountains are heavy, heavy the oceans.

Even the trees you planted as children
long since grew too heavy, you could not sustain them.
Ah,but the breezes . . . ah, but the spaces. . .

* * *
translated by H. Landman:

Oh you tender ones, step now and then
into the breath, that knows not of you,
upon your cheeks let it split in two,
behind you it quivers, united again.

Oh you blessed ones, oh you whole,
in whom the beginning of hearts appears.
Bows for arrows and arrows’ goal,
your smile is always stained with tears.

Don’t be afraid the weight will oppress,
give it back to the Earth’s heaviness;
heavy are the mountains, heavy are the seas.

The trees that you planted as children, these
have long been too heavy for you to bear.
But space … but the air …

* * *

translated by Google Translate

O ye tender ones , sometimes transgress
in the breath that does not mean you
let him share in eueren cheeks ,
behind you , he trembles reunited.

O Seiligen , O ye healing,
seems to her the beginning of the heart.
Bow arrows and targets of arrows ,
eternal shine your smile weeping .

Do not be afraid to suffer , gravity,
give it back to Earth weight ;
difficult , the mountains , the seas are difficult .

Even as a child you planted , the trees,
were too heavy for a long time ; you do not trüget .
But the air … but the rooms …