When Aino Elina first wrote her song “All the Prayers,” she penned its lyrics in her native Finnish tongue. In its Finnish form, the song was known as “Rukous,” and Elina included it on her debut EP, the Finnish-language collection Unissa, which she released in March 2018. Elina is currently translating all that EP’s songs to English, and if “All the Prayers” is any indication, her mourning loses none of its power when she switches languages.
“All the Prayers” keeps its poignancy across languages because its subject matter is so universal. Across the song’s grief-stricken, wintry four minutes, Elina recounts the challenges involved in moving past a relationship that has fallen apart beyond salvaging. As keyboards gently purr, synths softly swirl, and percussion lands less with an explosion and more with a mild tap, Elina’s instrumental palette imbues her voice with enough simultaneous resolve and dejection to ensure she doesn’t lose track of her quest to move on.
In translating the lyrics of “All the Prayers” from Finnish to English, Elina retains their original meaning while adopting an English rhyme scheme and simple word choices that place her in the vast pantheon of poets who can access deep human emotions without dipping into the language of the abstract or lofty. “Speak softly to me/or nothing at all/Leave me be/it’s your call” are the first lyrics Elina sings, and though these words are understandable to any English speaker with, say, a fourth-grade level of education, they’re all the more devastating for their candor and familiarity. When Elina laments over “All the vows/promises, wasted words/All the prayers, never heard/never answered” during the song’s chorus, she just as nobly and deftly uses the language of the everyday to clarify emotions that will always remain at least somewhat abstract.
Elina sings the second half of the chorus to “All the Prayers” in its original Finnish form. This decision doesn’t at all distract from the primordial grip that the song exerts. No matter the language she uses, Elina is masterful at pinpointing the devastation of human affairs.