What I Learned in Africa – Part 2: Melody, Harmony, and Other Things We All Have in Common

Sorry about the grainy picture, but trying to take a photo during church without calling attention to yourself is hard! Anyway, pictured here is our Missions Minister and the leader on our trip, Wes, preaching (with a translator) on Sunday morning in Malawi.

Sorry about the grainy picture, but trying to take a photo during church without calling attention to yourself is hard! Anyway, pictured here is our Missions Minister and the leader on our trip, Wes, preaching (with a translator) on Sunday morning in Malawi.

“It matters not what country the musician or the fan comes from. Music is a language that all understand.” –Victor Wooten

This quote is actually from a book I was reading while I was in Malawi, and I saw it lived out in a great way on Sunday morning while worshiping with the church there.

As you can imagine, there are many cultural differences in the way people worship in Malawi compared to the way we worship here in the U.S. Here, our worship services tend to be very structured, with an order and schedule that are set up beforehand. In Malawi, they are a little more laid-back. Things happen when they happen, and worship may last an hour or it may last 3 or 4 hours, depending on how the Spirit moves.

There are other differences, too (which I plan to address in a later post), but one of the coolest differences is the style of music. Listen to this:

This is a quick recording that I made during the worship service in Malawi. It’s not the greatest quality in the world, but I think you can hear enough to notice that the singing in church there is VERY different than what we might be used to in the States. They sing in more of a “call and response” format, and they repeat many of the same phrases over and over. Apart from being able to pick out words like “Jesu (Jesus)” and “Allelujah (Hallelujah)”, we weren’t able to sing much of the lyrics because they weren’t in English.

What I found most fascinating about the entire experience was this: The songs were not in the style of singing that we were used to, nor in a language we could understand, yet we were still able to worship God together.

I’ve always believed in the power of music. I don’t believe that music is just something to have playing in the background, or something that we have just for the purpose of entertaining ourselves. I truly believe that music is a language unto itself… a means of conveying thoughts, feelings, and emotions via melodies and harmonies rather than words.

Although the songs sung in church in Malawi are a different style than what I sing here in the States, they were repetitive enough for me to learn and sing the repeated phrases. Even though the lyrics were in a different language, I knew what we were singing about and who we were singing to. Through the power of music, we were able to worship God together as family. What a blessing!

God gives us opportunities every day to share common ground with others. We, as human beings, have a lot more in common than you might think. Through my experience in Africa, I learned to look a little deeper for those things in common with those I’m around each day.

I challenge you: LOOK FOR THOSE THINGS IN COMMON. It’ll change the way you think!

–Eric G.

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Gallery | This entry was posted in art, creative process, Life in General, Love, music, prayer, spirituality, travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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