Notes on the Notes – October 7, 2012
“Siyahamba” (VU 646) originated in South Africa and is said to have been composed c. 1950 by Andries van Tonder, an elder of the Judith Church. The original composition was in Afrikaans (with the title “Ons marsjeer nou in die lig van God”) and was later translated into Zulu by Thabo Mkhize. The form of the song, along with the meaning of the lyrics, may explain the song’s world-wide popularity as a processional and offertory as well as a protest or marching song.
Afrikaans – Ons marsjeer nou in die lig van God/Zulu – Siyahamba ekukhanyeni kwenkos’/English – We are marching in the light of God. (alt. We are marching into freedom today)/French – Nous marchons dans la lumière de Dieu, (alt. Nous marchons vers la lumière du jour).
“Now thank we all our God” (VU 236) is a translation from the German “Nun danket alle Gott”, written by Martin Rinkart. It was translated into English in 1856 by Cathering Winkworth.
Martin Rinkart was a Lutheran minister who came to Eilenburg, Saxony at the beginning of the Thirty years war. The walled city of Eilenburg became the refuge for political and military fugitives, but the result was overcrowding, and deadly pestilence and famine. During the height of a severe plague in 1637, Rinkart was the only surviving pastor in Eilenburg, conducting as many as 50 funerals in a day. He performed more than 4000 funerals in that year, including that of his wife.
During this time, Rinkart was a prolific hymn writer. The exact date of “Nun danket alle Gott” is in question, but it is known that it was widely sung by the time the Treaty of Westphalia was signed in 1648. It is a testament to his faith that, after such misery, Rinkhart was able to write a hymn of abiding trust and gratitude toward God.
The tune for “Now thank we all our God” is attributed to Johann Crueger. The now-standard harmonization was written by Felix Mendelssohn in 1840 when he adopted the hymn, with its original German lyrics, as the chorale to his second symphony.
“Kuimba Asante- Sing Thanks (Swahili)” – The Worship Choir and Praise Singers will join together to sing this joyful anthem of thanksgiving by Dave and Jean Perry. The song calls upon people throughout the world to join their voices in singing thanks to God. In the spirit of traditional African songs, this in an energetic call and response which incorporates the spirit of thanks in Japanese, Russian, Spanish, and Swahili. The translation of the Swahili is: “Kuimba asante” = “sing thanks,” “kuimba sifa ” = “sing praise,” and “kuimba utukufu”= “sing glory.”
“For the Fruit of All Creation” (VU 227) – This week we will be using the final verse of this hymn as our offering response. The words “Most of all that love has found us, thanks be to God” remind us that, of all the things we have to be thankful for, God’s love is the most precious and abiding.
“Know that God is Good” (MV 104) – This traditional song from Congo will be sung by the Praise Singers during communion. It will be sung in 4 languages: English, Swahili, French and Luganda, accompanied by xylophones and African percussion.
The words are “Know that God is good,” “Mungu ni mwema” (Swahili), “C’est vrai: Dieu est bon!” (French) and “Katonda mulungi” (Luganda).
“Give Me a Grateful Heart” – On World-wide communion Sunday, the Joyful Noise anthem, a gentle ballad of gratitude for God’s bountiful goodness, continues to draw our focus to a sense of thanksgiving. “In the time of storm, in the shadows of the night, there flows a perfect peace sent from Your throne above.”
“We Will Go with God” (Mv 223) -This traditional song from Swaziland and South Africa will be our benediction response. “On this day of great joy, we will go with God.” Happy Thanksgiving!