Thinking Out Loud

May 3, 2011

Nepalese Worship Music

Sometimes one of the hardest things for we white westerners to process is how Christianity expresses itself differently in other cultures.  Many of our best missionary efforts have been ineffective because we either (a) tried to import western European or North American cultural baggage along with the saving message of faith in Jesus Christ, or (b) we succeeded in doing so, and our church culture got confused with the gospel itself.

But the fact remains that Christianity looks and sounds differently in different places.  I learned this lesson years ago when I studied Clark Glassman’s book The Translation Debate.  It included interesting cultural adaptions such as:

  • Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as fungus
  • Behold, I stand at the door and call

…translations all used for some very good reasons.

So when my friend Graham — a regular reader here, I should add — wrote me about a series of monthly worship events –4Worship — he puts together north of Toronto, and a rather unusual band that will be joining them this month in particular, my first reaction was the somewhat narrow response of someone who tends to filter everything Christian through the lens of Christianity as practiced in the west and/or someone who tends to associate certain musical instruments with certain spiritualities.  My bad.

Over coffee with a new friend, Chris Hale, Chris was telling me that in the culture he grew up in, in Nepal, he would be described as, ‘devoted to Jesus’ because that’s the nearest equivalent to ‘Christian’ in that language.  Wow, imagine the impact of us saying to someone, “Yes, I am devoted to Jesus”. That phrase says it all – and so clearly.

 I also discovered, that like us, he loves to worship and sing praises to Jesus too! So, we’ve invited his band, Aradhna to join us on the 29th of MAY at 4worship. Aradhna will lead us in worship for 40 minutes and so will the 4worship team — the best of both worlds!

Then there was a link to this video.

which I watched without reading the background information Graham had supplied:

Here’s the backstory:  God rains down His blessing in the symbolic form of marigold petals, grains of rice, and water, (all symbols within Indian culture of blessing, abundance, purity, and cleansing). Pete and Chris collect these blessings in vessels and then move throughout the city sharing the blessing in different ways. As people discover the blessing, sometimes right outside their door, they are at first puzzled, but soon realize that the blessing is meant to be enjoyed, shared, or passed on.

Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy
Those who are poor in this world
Blessed are they, blessed are they
For the kingdom of heaven is theirs
Blessed are they, blessed are they
They who mourn in this world, will have peace
The meek in this world, will rule
Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy
Those whose hearts are pure in this world will see God
Those who make peace will be called the children of God – Sri Yeshu Ji

I know my regular readers, and I know some of you have watched or are listening to the video, and thinking, “This is really different.”  Or something like that.  Your response is similar to my initial response. It’s not every day I see a video tagged on YouTube as Christian Hindi music.  But I did the research.  This group appeared at Urbana, the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship conference.  You can also learn more watching this video interview or this Wikipedia article. And it does grow on you; I’ve just listened for the third time. (And Hindi is a language, not a faith, so get over it, okay?)

Needless to say, if you live in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and particularly the north end of the GTA, you’ll want to attend this concert. For everyone else, the lesson here is not to try put Christian music in a box. The box can’t contain the praise. (I think we all need to travel outside North America more often…)


  1. I enjoy their music- the style is a bit repetitive for my taste. Chris and his wife Miranda sometimes attend my church – they each have lovely character, strong faith. A delight to see that they found each other since they are deeply committed to their vision of ministering to the Hindi world, regularly wearing ethnic dress even in Toronto.

    Comment by Brian — May 3, 2011 @ 11:08 am

  2. […] video link # 1: Two years ago we did a story here on a Nepalese worship band, Aradhna. I was going to run a link to something more recent, but opted instead for one of their earlier […]

    Pingback by Wednesday Link List | Thinking Out Loud — May 15, 2013 @ 6:56 am

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