No More Hymnbooks

“Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 42:10

Since the days of the ancient Hebrews, men and women have been expressing their praise to God through songs of worship.

Like the Hebrew people of the Old Testament, the Usarufa people of the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea express feelings of great joy and deep sorrow through their music. They like to sing and have always included songs in their worship services. However, though they weren’t sure why, there seemed to be something missing in the quality and depth of meaning of their hymns. Although they sang the songs every week, they still could not remember the words and relied heavily on the hymnbook.

This began to change last Christmas when churches from many villages gathered for their annual Christmas Camp. They had this in common: They were all mother tongue speakers of the Usarufa language. At the camp, they worked together to translate some hymns and choruses into the language that communicated from their deepest being, the Usarufa language. As more and more songs were translated, the excitement grew. Around the camp, people began singing the songs of praise to the Lord in their heart language.

For the past six months, the Usarufa churches have been singing the songs that were translated during the camp. Now their voices ring out with a new gusto and a new sense of awe and worship of their Lord. One community leader, Waks, testified, “Previously we could never remember the songs. They just didn’t stick in our heads. But now that we can sing them in our own language, the people memorize the songs very quickly. No one needs the hymnbooks anymore!”