What is the meaning of ‘paciencia y fe’? In the Heights song explained

Bruno Cooke June 11, 2021
What is the meaning of ‘paciencia y fe’? In the Heights song explained

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The film adaptation of multi-award winning musical In the Heights, which debuted on Broadway in March 2008, is enjoying an eagerly awaited opening weekend in cinemas. What is the meaning in English of the song, Paciencia y Fe?

What does Abuela Claudia mean when she sings, ‘paciencia y fe’?

Per Spanish Dict, the phrase “paciencia y fe” literally translates to “patience and faith”.

It is the eighth of In The Heights’ 25 musical numbers, and comes at around the halfway point of the first Act.

“Abuela” Claudia, the loving matriarch of the barrio (district), sings the song. She does so after revealing to her family that she holds a winning lottery ticket, worth $96,000, thanking her years of patience and faith.

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Why does she sing ‘paciencia y fe’ in Spanish but the rest in English?

Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda (with a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes), In the Heights takes place in a largely Dominican neighbourhood of Washington Heights, in New York City.

The official language of the Dominican Republic is Spanish. 

Since the 1980s, Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan has been the centre of the Dominican American community; as of 2017, Dominicans made up 4.4% of New York’s population.

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However, given that it had its first run in Connecticut, and subsequent shows on Broadway and around the US, more of the lyrics are accessible to more of the audience if they are in English.

Who plays Abuela Claudia?

Olga Merediz, who played Abuela in In the Heights when it premiered on Broadway, reprises the role in the 2021 film, and sings Paciencia y Fe.

She also features in other songs, but the song in question offers audiences what Screen Rant calls a “true showcase of Olga Merediz’s powerhouse talent”.

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Photo by Roy Rochlin/WireImage,

Has In the Heights got good reviews?

Yes, critics have received In the Heights favourably.

Writing for the Guardian, Adam Gabbatt suggests it might boost movie theatres’ recovery. Meanwhile the Telegraph called it “the all-singing, all-dancing, feel good film of the summer”.

American critics like it too. The Washington Post dubbed it “splashy” and “life-affirming”, while The New York Times called it “American entertainment in the best sense”.

Based on 1.8K ratings, In the Heights currently has an IMDB score of 7.7.

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Bruno Cooke has been a freelance journalist since 2019, primarily with GRV Media. He was an early contributor to The Focus, and has written for HITC, Groundviews and the Sheffield University newspaper – he earned his MA in Global Journalism there in 2021. He’s the Spoken Word Poetry Editor for The Friday Poem, and self-published his debut novel Reveries in 2019, which his mum called both a “fine read” and “excellent Christmas present”. Bruno has lived in China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines and likes, among other things: bicycle touring, black and white Japanese films, pub quizzes, fermentation and baklava. In 2023, Bruno will set off with his partner on a round-the-world cycle.