I returned yesterday from Brazzaville, Congo, and eagerly look forward to sharing news of my journey and the Lord's ministry in French West Africa with you.
The upcoming posts will have a less liturgical emphasis, but will be appropriate nonetheless because the point of our work together is the proclamation of the Gospel. True, our focus is on how this may best be done through our singing of psalms, hymns, and liturgical songs, but such was the central part and prime reason for my recent trip, as I went to Africa to introduce the French-language edition of the LSB, Liturgies et Cantiques Luthériens, to our brethren in French West Africa.
For now, let me just just offer a few initial thoughts:
1 - Our hymnody is truly catholic, i.e. "universal". Its essence as folk song means our melodies can be planted and take root in any cultural soil. One of the most well-received hymns I taught was the French version of "Triune God, be Thou Our Stay". And the singing of "Savior of the Nations, Come" was especially vibrant.
2 - Chanting is also catholic. One of my favorite moments of the Divine Service last Sunday was the responsive Introit between Pastor Mavoungu and the congregation of 300. The formula tone used was also interesting in that it was more Ionian than most of our tones (expected) and more complex (unexpected).
3 - What we've been saying about the primacy of singing is so true. The best singing of the congregation was when they sang a cappella or with just traditional drums. When microphoned singers sang and an electric keyboard & bass joined in, there was less communal singing. Part of this was the (limited) skill of the instrumental musicians, but there was a fundamental shift in the spirit and voice of the assembly everytime they had "ownership" of the song.
Most inspirational was how thankful our brothers & sisters in Congo are for their blessings. They have been given so little, and yet rejoice so much.
May we who have been given so much (materially) in America be like-minded in thanksgiving, and may we be generous in our support of our fellow confessional Lutherans around the world. As President Harrison says, "Now is the time to rock the world for confessional Lutheranism."
This is our work to do together - not something to just leave up to synod. If the Lord moves you to want to help our brothers and sisters in French West Africa as I share my journey with you, please do not hesitate to contact me.
There is so much to be done.
Last thought for now:
4 - I think the coolest thing I witnessed was a 5th-grade girl reciting the small catechism in French. Perfectly. Her reward the next day was to receive her own Bible. Her joy was so thorough, so genuine.
Awake, our hearts, with gladness!