We are really enjoying worship with the College of Transfiguration in Grahamstown. Every day we gather at 7:15 a.m. for Morning Prayer or Eucharist and at 5 p.m. for Eucharist or Evening Prayer. The music in worship is wonderful. The students are great singers, hymn leaders, and cantors. They are taught and lead by Dr. Simon Tibbs. I have found it especially moving to sing (doing my best) in many languages. This morning at Morning Prayer, we sang All people that on earth do dwell (tune: Old 100th).
When I’ve imagined the words of this hymn before, I’ve pictured people who look different from one another, a stunning, gorgeous variety of people made in God’s image. Today, my attention is drawn to the beautiful and varied sounds and languages of people created by the Word.
The English version is just a little different from what I’m used to in The Hymnal 1982 and I’ve never before sung this hymn in Afrikaans or Zulu. Singing in more than one language is a great way to embody the Psalm on which the hymn is based:
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into God’s presence with singing. (Psalm 100:1)
My singing in Afrikaans and Zulu may be more joyful noise than intelligible hymning, but it’s worship, and offered with gladness and gratitude for those who speak many languages and share theirs with me.