Singing with all your heart

I could only understand a few of their words. Sure, part of my lack of understanding was that most of their songs were in French. But my poor hearing did the rest.

Though I could understand few of their words, I understood their message clearly, as they praised God and led us in worship. When I listen to and watch the Chorale d’Elite Internationale (of the United Methodist Church of Ivory Coast), I understand plainly why so many of our young people at church say our music is boring.

Many of our hymn aren’t boring. They have awesome theology – just listen to the words. But if you don’t understand the words – and I don’t think the lack of understanding comes from them not being in English or sung to English-speakers – the awesome theology is just gibberish. Even a Ralph Vaughn Williams tune won’t help with that crowd.

When we sing those songs with their awesome theology, we just stand there. No bodily movement. Some of us don’t even move our mouths. We just stand there like statues. I don’t know how people can understand what we sing and do nothing.

But I’m not talking about us. The Ivorians, they sing and they move. All of them so full of joy, not a speck of boredom anywhere. I sure wish my kids could be here for the experience – my own kids and my church kids. A CD or even a DVD would be no substitute for being there live.

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3 Responses to Singing with all your heart

  1. Kim says:

    African English is seriously different from any other flavor of the language. Probably wasn’t due to your hearing that you couldn’t understand most of it. I have to listen intensely to my African students (and African fellow=church-members) to understand them, even though English is their first language.

    Hey, exactly who are you talking about makin’ like a statue during singing? Not me! OK, I know who you’re talking about.

    It doesn’t hurt that an African family (from Sierra Leone) sits in front of us every Sunday. Keeps us aware of our statue-ness.

  2. rheyduck says:

    I don’t think it was the African English – or the African French – that threw me off. I have trouble on ordinary Sundays making out the words my own (native American English speakers) sing. Ringing in the ear doesn’t help.

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