“If we sing in our heart language, we can sing from our heart,” declared a workshop participant. Political forces suppressed her people group’s traditional forms. Although only the elderly in her village know the forms well enough to perpetuate them, people of all ages connect with the sounds of their heritage. Recognising the power of her culture’s music for reaching hearts, she worked tirelessly during the week to compose culturally powerful Scripture songs.
This young lady represented one of five language groups attending an HSI songwriting workshop in November. HSI’s Operations Director Amy Duncan and her husband, Ben, joined ethnomusicologist Beth Sederstrom for a week in Asia. Their goal was ambitious. Not only did they aim to encourage the emergence of new worship music, but they also focused on training locals to become workshop leaders. The Asian attendees know their culture and language and can enter villages that are inaccessible to foreigners, so HSI worked to equip them with research tips, songwriting principles, and theology of worship.
By the end of the week, the participants recorded fourteen new songs in languages that had few or no indigenous Scripture songs prior to the week. In addition, the group prayed over and commissioned twelve new trainers to begin leading workshops. As an added bonus, Ben Duncan began work on a phone app that will enable villagers to access materials in places with poor Internet connections. God did an amazing work to equip the local musicians as they declare His glory among the nations (Psalm 96:3)!