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Jan 17, 2006

Sing to the Lord a New Song

Written by Elisabeth H

sandawe_singing.jpgNow the Sandawe can praise God in their own style.
(Sandawe, Tanzania)
In a typical church service each week almost all the songs are sung in Swahili which is a second language for EVERYONE in the congregation, be it a Sandawe, a Tanzanian of a different people group, or us. Most songs are English hymns that were translated into Swahili several decades ago. The tunes are foreign as are the words.

In July 2005 we had Julie, an Ethnomusicologist from Nairobi, come and teach 28 Sandawe to make their own songs with which to worship God. In preparation Odilo and Daniel had translated several Scripture passages. During the week the participants were instructed to use their own music style and to fit it with words from the Bible. They worked hard and by the end of the week there were 20 worship songs in Sandawe! These were recorded and produced as a cassette tape. It was exciting for the people to sing into a microphone in a room that had been made soundproof by hanging blankets and putting mattresses against the walls!

At the end of the week the participants got the chance to sing in the local church’s Sunday service. It was obvious that the Sandawe songs were well received. One lady could not remain in her seat but danced to the front while the choir sang. After the service, as everyone left church while singing one of the new songs, there were smiles on all the faces - unlike on other Sundays, when everyone looks sad. Instead of the congregation dispersing after the service, the choir was asked to sing a few more songs. It was great. It’s our prayer that the message of the Word of God will penetrate the hearts of the Sandawe through these songs and that more will be composed.

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