It was a pleasure to go along to the English service at our “home church” at Limbe ZEC this morning, and sing a few songs from the 21st century! While our daughter, Mhairi, was staying with us, we used her singing skills to hold a couple of sessions at Limbe to teach some new English songs, an alternative to the rather dated songs, like “The Old Rugged Cross” and “Will Your Anchor Hold” which are the staple of the English service most weeks! We formed a band using talented musicians we have got to know, and taught 12 new songs, by people like Stuart Townend, and Matt Redman.
Many Malawians, especially in the cities, have excellent English and prefer to worship in the English language – which they feel is better able to articulate theological ideas. Western music is also increasingly carried across the air-waves in Malawi and, certainly those in the cities, have developed more Western tastes. So some of the songs that Mhairi taught were already familiar, but people have never had the written words to enable them to sing along and dwell on the meaning.
This morning then, we thought “mission accomplished” (at least in Limbe ZEC) as the worship leaders spontaneously got out the song sheets Mhairi had used. The words of Stuart Townend’s “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us” certainly seemed to reach the hearts of the people at Limbe ZEC, and their innate musical skills allowed them to naturally harmonize – adding an African twist to the beautiful sound.
During Mhairi’s visit, she also helped Ruth with the Music Club at the Bible College, where 8-10 students are keen to learn keyboard and guitar, and get a greater understanding of how music “works”. And a group of young people who meet at our house every week for a music session enjoyed having Mhairi teach them how to sing better, and teach them new songs that, again, they have heard on the radio or on CDs, but never had the opportunity to learn for themselves. This group have a vision of forming a youth choir that will go out into the villages to evangelize, and they are hoping that Mhairi will be back to help them as this project progresses – composing and arranging news songs for the choir, rehearsing the choir, rehearsing the instrumentalists, and launching their new ministry. Meanwhile, they will have to make do with Ruth!