Have you ever participated in a worship service where visiting missionaries teach the congregation a song in another language, and as voices lift to form foreign sounding words, your soul soars in spite of the language barrier?
I’m still making my way through Christine Eberle’s excellent devotional Finding God In Ordinary Time, and this morning I read about Christine’s forays into French and Spanish. Her findings resonated with me. Sometimes a familiar passage hits you with new punch when you hear it in another language.
Years ago, I took a first year university Spanish course, which was based around 52 episodes of Destinos, a Spanish soap opera about the lives and relationships of one large extended family. I constantly heard the word “hijo” as characters were introduced. The patriarch of the family had children – his sons were hijos, his daughters hijas. Those kids had kids, and their sons were hijos. It’s a word I learned watching a human family laugh and cry and when I began reading the New Testament in Spanish, and first came across the phrase “hijo de Dios” it stopped me dead. Hijo de Dios? What?!
I’ve heard it a million times in English and you probably have too – Son of God.
But my mind had only seen hijos that were human, linked to their human parents, set in very earthy families. Wow. Hijo de Dios.
All of this went through my mind as I read Christine’s words about praying in Spanish. She writes:
…it is probably my lack of fluency that makes prayer in Spanish so powerful for me. Not having a thesaurus or dissertation running in my head helps me stay focused on the words right in front of me. Keeping whole areas of my mind out of the conversation enables my prayer to be simpler, more grounded in feelings than in thoughts. What a relief it must be for God to murmur directly to my heart, instead of engaging in the usual protracted negotiations with my busy brain!
So… on that note, let me share three worship songs that captivate me.
The first I discovered a few days ago. My daughter is preparing for a move to Quebec and our IP address must be linked to a lot of French language content. Spotify recommended this song to me and I love it, although I only understand bits.
Here’s one that you may recognize, but this is a Spanish version:
And finally, can I share with you how bizarre it is to stumble across a Dutch worship song (Spotify again) and to understand some of it? I don’t speak the language – I’d be lucky to come up with a phrase or two – but, growing up, my mom spoke Dutch with her mother and sisters during family visits. I love how it feels to hear worship in that language. It stirs something deep inside – my inner child, maybe. Here is one Dutch song that I love.