SONGS THAT STICK
“When people sing in their local cultural style, there’s more excitement, more exuberance—it touches their hearts.” That’s what Nyemuse, World Arts Specialist and faculty instructor in our CEWA Department, told us when she excitedly brought us a copy of the newest compilation of Zande hymns and songs for that ethnolinguistic group in the Central African Republic (CAR).
It all started 20 years ago when Nyemuse first went to CAR to begin working with the Zande community in ethnoarts workshops. The participants began composing original Zande songs. A few years later, they formed a committee to choose 30 of them for publication as part of a more extensive anthology of existing songs. That’s where Kerry and Caleb, students at DIU, came in.
Caleb did a four-month internship with Nyemuse in CAR to help the community through the process of developing and choosing pieces for publication. Kerry took the written pieces and transcribed them to staff notation so anyone could learn to play them easily. Having these new songs presented on staff notation will also elevate the value of the new hymns in the eyes of the Zande people. Nyemuse then took 20 printed copies back to CAR for revision and community evaluation before the final publication.
What you see in the photo here is the culmination of 20 years of prayer, collaboration, and creation. Now, 1,500 copies are ready for distribution among the Zande people in CAR and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “May the songs in this book work to strengthen God’s church among the Azande and give glory to God,” the book dedication reads.
Nyemuse told us, “Song is an extremely important art form for the Azande. This is how they learn their theology. Songs and proverbs are the key ways they communicate important truths.” For the Zande people, to have a published copy of their local art forms is incredibly valuable. These original songs, based on verses from Exodus, the Psalms, and through to New Testament truths, sung in their local style, evoke traditional harmony from the people who sing them. “When you’re brought up with your mother singing in this musical style, and you grow up learning game chants in this style, then you learn scripture to go along with it. It sticks.” Nyemuse adds, “When you combine the songs of scripture with their traditional musical style, you’ve got something that penetrates to the heart. It will be easier for them to engage with and remember.”
Inside this landmark publication is one hymn composed by a local musician that expresses his heart. Here are some of the lyrics, translated from Pazande:
Before, I walked in darkness, and I did a lot of sinning
But God saw my sorrow, and He said, “Child, come to me.”
This wonderful thing God has done—to call me
Now I am light because of God’s wonderful love
God’s love is higher than our thoughts
Every day He helps me
God’s love is greater than any of our thoughts
He is the only One who is able for me.
The dedication page reads, “Many people have had a hand in creating this edition—those who typed it, those who composed new songs, those who put it on staff notation, those who corrected the first draft, and those who gave money so the book could be prepared. May God bless each and every one of them.” Amen.
UPDATE: Victor Bashon Jackson I Scholarship
We are excited to announce that we have raised over $5,400 so far toward the Victor Bashon Jackson I Scholarship Fund!
The scholarship will be awarded to two African-American students from Southwest Dallas County enrolling in the BA(IS) program for undergraduates at Dallas International University for Fall 2021 and beyond. Each scholarship will cover all tuition costs for up to four years.
DIU is seeking twelve individuals willing to commit $500 a term ($1,000 per year) for the duration of the student’s tenure at DIU (up to four years). The total combined donations needed is $12,000 per year.
Will you prayerfully consider a gift toward this scholarship fund this year? You can find this and other ways to give at www.diu.edu/give/.
An App for All Languages
This year has changed a lot for all of us, and for many, it has given us the opportunity to learn new skills. Aaron Hemphill, a DIU alumnus serving in Mexico, took a change in the workflow as an opportunity to teach himself Java. He reports that he is now seeking collaboration with other app developers to expand the pool of games and educational apps that minority language communities can use.
From this project came the app Alpha Tiles, designed for users to input a wordlist, images, and audio to make a game for their particular language. Aaron has already been collaborating with folks in Mexico, Romania, and Myanmar for the first apps, with other possibilities in the works.
Want to check out his work? Click here to view a demo of the app!
We Want to Hear from You!
Friends, as we move into the new year, we’d love to hear from you about how you’ve experienced 2020 and how we can best communicate with you in 2021. Would you take five minutes to fill out a quick survey for us?
Click here to complete the survey. Thank you!
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