Monday, August 24, 2009

Working on the hymnal

During the month of July, Pr. Omolo and I were able to put together a draft of the Divine Service, Matins, and Vespers, in Swahili, with the music as it is sung in Kenya.We got all this work done because we had not only had three weeks together at the seminary in Fort Wayne for the sole purpose of working on the hymnal, but also could meet frequently with Dr. Quill and Dr. Grime as we were working. It used a chunk of money from the Hymnal Project account to bring Pr. Omolo over, but it was definitely money well spent.

The music for the liturgy is all oral tradition, so Pr. Omolo sang the parts one at a time for me and I notated them. Pr. Omolo spent hours each day on his own, translating Proper Prefaces and Collects and other parts of the liturgy. Dr. Grime and Dr. Quill carefully walked through the liturgies with us, making suggestions, explaining historical practices and traditions and theological considerations. In those conversations I was primarily an observer, gaining more appreciation and love for our liturgy as we poured over its details.

One of the amazing benefits of working on a project like this is that it means being immersed in the Word of God, with brothers in Christ. Thank you, Lord!


  1. Dear Sandra,
    I am pastor of a Lutheran church in the rural city of Shepparton in Victoria, Australia. Over the past three years this congregation has grown through the migration of former refugees from Sudan, D.R of Congo and Burundi. The Congolese and Burundians speak Swahili and we have had some difficulty accessing confessional Lutheran hymnody and liturgical resources. I'm very interested in the Kenyan hymnal your working on and the associated liturgies. Is there a time frame in which these resources are expected to be avaliable? In the meantime, are there any swahili hymn resoureces you could recommend? We have a Swahili choir which utilises a hymnal which was used in the Lutheran Church in the Congo, however it seems to have some pentecostal 'leanings' and with my VERY limited Swahili, translation to ensure only sound hymns are being used is difficult. I look forward to hearing from you as you are able. God bless your continued work, Pastor Matt Anker (

  2. Jambo Pr. Anker!
    How delightful to hear from a pastor in Australia. I would not have guessed that a Swahili hymnal might aid a parish in the down under!

    September 2012 has been suggested for the introduction of this hymnal, but I'm optimistic we'll be done well before that. The most time consuming task looks like it will be hymn translations.

    There is a Tanzanian Lutheran Hymnal. Are you familiar with that? It's our primary Swahili resource. There's no music in it, but I've started putting texts and tunes together for some standard hymns like A Mighty Fortress. I'll send you a few hymn files by e-mail. I can also send the draft of the liturgies, as long as you keep in mind there is still some editing to do on those.

    My Swahili is, I'm sure, more limited than yours. Let's see - there's jambo, habari, asante sana, mwimbieni Bwana, karibu - oh - and hakuna matata. And I'm getting familiar with liturgical words - milele na milele, mtakatifu, uturehemu. I really hope to learn more.

    I will switch over to e-mail and send you a few things. God bless you and your important work in Victoria.