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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Multilingual Worship: Is it Worth it?

Continuing our series about reconciled worship, the following was originally published by Royce Morris for Proskuneo 

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 you 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?

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  1. Wonderfully thought provoking, I wonder how many of us faithful would take the initiative to welcome another child of God using the gift of their own language, culture, or ceremonies.
    I know that I have wished my Jewish brothers and sisters Shalom, sung sacred songs at Passover, but never in my own church.

    When my church welcomed Nairobi sister church parishioners we sang and danced to drums that coursed through my bloodstream, we sang with their words, we celebrated God's love and faithfulness across the globe; but we've never sang Spanish songs, or Chinese for those native members of our congregation.

    Another way to change the world, thank you for the food.


  2. Thank you for sharing your beautiful and insightful words!

  3. Check out this great series from Proskuneo that gives simple, practical tips for incorporating multilingual songs into your worship at church:


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