Multilingual Worship: Is It Worth It?

Posted on Posted in Multicultural Relationship, Multicultural Worship

Is it worth the trouble to sing in a new/different language if there is only one person there who speaks it? I’d say… YES!

Imagine this… You have grown up as a White American in the suburbs of a mid-size city in the Midwest. You have never traveled. God (via your company) then moves you to a country where hardly any English is spoken… let’s say somewhere in India.

Everything is different there from the way people wash their clothes to the way people drive. You feel overwhelmed by the new culture and language but you are slowly starting to get the hang of it.

You are able to find a solid church where the Pastor speaks Hindi slow enough for you to understand. You even begin to learn some worship songs in Hindi. But what would happen to your heart if you heard their music leader suddenly burst into Great is Thy Faithfulness, or How Great is Our God in English?

Even if their pronunciation wasn’t that good, wouldn’t you feel relief to be able to sing to God in a language where you don’t have to think of the whole sentence before you can even begin to say it? Wouldn’t you feel loved by the church that was stepping out of their comfort zone to allow you to worship in your heart language? If you were that American person would say it was worth it for them to learn that song or chorus for you?

What about here in the States? Do you think it’s worth it to learn a chorus in Korean even if there’s only one man there who speaks it? What if you and Spanish are mortal enemies but an immigrant family who doesn’t speak much English starts attending your congregation?

I don’t want you to misunderstand me. I believe that people, when living in a culture outside their own, should make an effort to learn the language and customs of that place to operate there but not at the expense of losing their own.

It honors God when we consider others more than ourselves. Do you think it’s worth it?

6 thoughts on “Multilingual Worship: Is It Worth It?

  1. Amen! Preach!

    In addition, surly it is important to be proactive Rev 7:9 worship without even that ONE person! We must lay the foundations for building trusting relationships BEFORE we encounter the opportunity.

    Therefore, Let us not even wait for the first Korean church goer to walk through our doors before we start singing songs in Korean. Begin now–a sort of Field of Dreams philosophy.

    I would like permission to repost this article on http://www.ByTheirStrangeFruit.com (BTSF), a blog about racism and Christianity. We have been discussing issues along these line and I think my readers would enjoy this post.

    In addition, I would like to invite a collaboration with Proskuneo: perhaps a featured guest post on BTSF? We had a recent guest post that touched on some important issues of corporates musical worship and ‘the sacrifice of praise’ being our uncorfort as we embrace new styles for the sake of “consider[ing] others more than ourselves” (http://tiny.cc/0ph8w), but I think there were some awkward statements in it and missed opportunities there as well. It would be great to have your voice featured for our readers.

    1. Katelin, You are absolutely right about being proactive in Rev 7:9 worship without even one person being there. 🙂 See another post entitled “Why Sing in a Different Language?” from May 2nd of this year. Amen and amen. You are absolutely welcome to repost this article on your blog. Just give them a link to our site, in case they are interested in reading other related blogs. And, by all means, let’s collaborate! It is great to find another blogger with similar heartbeat. I will email you directly so we can dialogue about the possibilities of future collaboration. Let us not grow weary in doing good…

  2. Absolutely!! From my perspective it’s worth being reminded that my culture or language is not superior to any other. I think I’m at a bit of a disadvantage in not ever being immersed in another culture and being forced to find a new normal or at least forced to adapt. I don’t think I can wrap my mind around there being societies and languages vastly different from my own but equal in terms of their humanness and therefore just as beautiful and relevant. And then to think of those cultures being redeemed and offering up the particulars of their living as worship?!? WHOA!! There are so many ways that He is glorified that go beyond my daily living experiences. So yeah, definitely worth it :o)

    1. Well said, Shauntay. Has anyone ever told you that you have a way with words? 🙂 It seems to me that you are finding ways to think about these things even if they are not right in front of your face on a daily basis. Thank you! I love that last sentence: “There are so many ways that He is glorified that go beyond my daily living experiences.” YES! AMEN! I guess we could sum it up by saying that HE is worth it…

  3. Some years ago I led worship on a multi-national mission team. Some of the Koreans we worked with shared that while they appreciated all of the worship songs being produced in English, they really wanted to be able to worship in their own language and idioms. That was the beginning of opening my eyes to this issue. Later, while leading worship in an Arabic church plant, I became painfully aware how different our Western ballad-based love songs were from the natural kingship – glory based themes of Arab language and culture. As a missionary in Germany I worked hard to find music that was written and composed in German for these reasons. At one praise and worship conference I walked up to one of the main writers of German content and said… “You probably don’t get this often, but as an English speaker, and as an American, THANK YOU, for writing for the German audience!” Heart language is always best.

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