Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Progress Report

The goal of the Kenyan Hymnal Project is to develop and produce the first official hymnal for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya. The project is an official request of the ELCK and is supported by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne.

We are reaching the final stages of the hymnal project.

· Thirty hymns have been translated into Swahili.

· Translations of Rites for Marriage, Confirmation, Funeral, and Baptism are nearly finished.

· Artwork for the cover of the hymnal is complete.

We anticipate being ready to print in January 2012, with a first printing of 20,000 copies.

This is an exciting mission project, and we invite you to participate with your donation. The cost per book will be about $4.00 US; however, for this to be within reach of Kenyan Lutherans, each book will have to be underwritten so that an individual or a parish could purchase a copy for the equivalent of $1 US.

A gift of $100 will underwrite approximately 34 hymnals

$500 …167 hymnals

$750…250 hymnals

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hymnody and Liturgy Workshop

While in Kenya last month, I had the privilege of presenting a one-day workshop on Hymnody and Liturgy at Uhuru Highway Cathedral in Nairobi along with Kantor Richard Resch.

Kantor Resch organized his teaching around our Lutheran Identity. What does it mean to be a Lutheran? The answer to this question was divided into three parts. To be Lutheran means to be Confessional, Sacramental, and Liturgical. From there, he spent the day teaching what each of those three categories held. At various points, I would take over and teach a portion of the liturgy or a hymn as it connected to the discussion. At the end of the day, we prayed Vespers together, using the lovely Kenyan setting as it will be in Ibada Takatifu.

One workshop participant wrote a summary of the day for us. Here is an excerpt from what she wrote:

To my astonishment, I noted that as Lutherans most of our congregations are Pentecostal in their worship, meaning that we are busy borrowing from the Pentecostal churches and not from our own sister Liturgical churches if we must. We have neglected our Lutheran worship books and we are busy copying the Pentecostals, something which is very sad and misleading. We think that we are doing something for God when it is actually Him doing all for us.

Hence as a participant I am so happy that the church is committed in coming up with her own Hymnal so that we can keep our identity. Am also requesting that the Pastors be challenged to make sure that the congregations are worshiping as Lutherans and not Pentecostals. They must be there to advise and lead the services accordingly.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hymns proclaim God's Word

Hearing the Word strengthens and sustains us and keeps in the faith. Hymns that faithfully proclaim God’s Word are worthy and worthwhile. They are worth the time and effort to learn, to sing often, to remember and sing through the day. These hymns preach the Gospel. The music is a vehicle for the proclamation of the Word of God.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Please help!

The Kenyan Hymnal Project is officially a project of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya. Because their resources are scarce, Archbishop Walter Obare requested help with this project from the Lutheran Church/Missouri Synod. We are given gifts in order to serve our neighbor, and it is indeed a privilege for us to provide hymnals for these brothers in Christ.

This project needs your support. We hope to be ready to print hymnals in a matter of months, and need the funds for this to happen. The hymnals will cost between $4 and $5 each to print, depending on the number ordered. Would you be able two hymnals for a household? Ten hymnals for a classroom? Twenty five for a congregation? Any amount will help.

CTS-FW is holding the money for the project, so donations are to be sent to Concordia Theological Seminary, 6600 N Clinton, Fort Wayne IN 46825. In the memo line of the check, write “Kenyan Hymnal Project”. Include a brief note, stating clearly that your donation is for the Kenyan Hymnal Project.

God bless you.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

reviving this blog

Dear, dear, dear. It turns out I’m very bad at blogging. Look at this – has it actually been a year since I’ve said anything about the progress on the hymnal? I shall endeavor to do better.

The fact of the matter is that we have seen the Lord’s hand over and over in paving the way for progress on this hymnal, and we fully expect the project to be completed in less than a year. The details are many, and worth recounting for the sake of the history of the ELCK and its first hymnal, for the testimony it is to God’s gracious and abundance, and for the joy of thinking on good and worthwhile things. There is still much work to do, and the need for donations continues, as I’ll explain in future posts, and that is yet another reason to publicize this work.

My last posts were from a year ago, at the time of a Pastors’ Conference at Matongo Lutheran Theological College. Over the past year much of my work has been in the corpus of hymns – exactly which hymns will be included in this hymnal, how and where we can get translations into Swahili, the possibility of including some in English, and the continuing search for solid, indigenous hymnody.

Because hymns are so central to Lutherans, because all creation sings to praise God, because music carries God’s Word into our hearts and souls in a deep, profound way, to be called to immerse oneself in hymnody has been, and continues to be, a blessing beyond words.

We sing the praise of Him who died,

Of Him who died upon the cross.

The sinner’s hope let all deride;

For this we count the world but loss.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Puzzling over hymns

It seems that the rainy season is starting early this year in central Kenya. They say the rains usually start around the first of April, but it started raining a few days ago, and seems to be gradually gaining intensity. First there was rain overnight. Then sprinkles through the day. And today are downpours. I can only imagine what a mess this red clay earth becomes when it is soaked.

Dr. Quill arrived last night, and this morning he and I flew from Nairobi to Kisumu, and then drove to Matongo Lutheran Theological College. Kisumu is on Lake Victoria and is northwest of Nairobi. Last year when I made this trip everything was so new that it was hard to take in many details. This time I was more aware of mountains in the distance as we drove to Matongo, and more aware of how much of the drive was uphill. The vegetation is lush and gorgeous.

I was able to do a little searching in Nairobi, and bought a current Kenyan Roman Catholic hymnal - not the pew edition but the edition with music in it. We're still puzzled by the lack of Kenyan hymns, and are wondering if the RC church might have some, since it is a large, well-established denomination. Now I need one of the Kenyans to look at this hymnal with me. The music style is definitely Kenyan, but it looks to me like music written in the last few years. Although I can't read the words, I can see lots of repetition and very short verses with refrains. We're hoping for some solid hymns that have been around for awhile and are known at least somewhat among the Lutherans.

The answer most of the pastors here give, when asked about the hymns people sing, is that they use the hymns missionaries have brought. There certainly is indigenous music, like what I heard a Maasai tribe sing, but I'm told we wouldn't be interested in it (theologically) for a Lutheran hymnbook.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Pastors' Conference

Today was spent mostly in preparations for next week's pastors' conference.

My first trip to Kenya was last year at this time. Two LC/MS congregations were funding a pastors' conference at the seminary here. The pastors from those congregations (Pastors Douthwaite and Froh) were coming to teach at the conference; Dr. Tim Quill (professor at the sem in Fort Wayne) was coordinating it and teaching also. This hymnal project was born, and I joined the group to observe the worship services, be a part of the official start of the Kenyan Hymnal Commission, and participate in the first planning meetings of the commission.

We were enthusiastically received. The Lutheran community here is gracious and generous, and the pastors and seminary students are very eager to learn. As a result, it was decided to hold a second conference: 1-5 March 2010. Pr. Froh is teaching again, as well as Dr. Quill, and myself. The topic this year is this new hymnal - introducing some parts of it, teaching about liturgy, and about music.

Among the various songbooks/hymnals currently being used in churches, none have music in them. This new hymnal, Ibada Takatifu (Divine Service), will. Very few people can read music, but perhaps the hymnal will be one small step among many in giving the people some music literacy. Along with talking about the importance of liturgy, I plan to teach the basics of reading music, and how to sing this setting.

I'm the only person at the Guest House today, other than the staff, and the solitude has been great for getting prepared and also for relaxing.

I'm not sure how many workers there are here. I'm aware of three young ladies doing household tasks, a couple of young men working in the yard, and a driver. My impression is that this is full time work for all of them and they their pay is mostly room and board. Molly, the head cook, just turned 27 yesterday. I've talked with her more. She considers this her career, although she also hopes to be married someday.