Issues in bilingual hymnody

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Haruo's picture

Last Sunday I attended Japanese Baptist's bimonthly bilingual communion service. The closing hymn was "Take My Life and Let It Be", with 3 verses prescribed in each language. The problem was that the hymnals each had four stanzas, but the English hymnal had the hymn set to HENDON (this is what the pianist played) while the Japanese hymnal had it set to MESSIAH. Well, HENDON is 77.777, while MESSIAH is 77.77D, so it's essentially impossible to sing them simultaneously, and the verses are basically (but not precisely) twice as long in MESSIAH, so you can't just sing the Japanese text to HENDON. Now, there are Japanese versions of this hymn that are set to HENDON, and a bit of extra attention on the worship leaders' part could have located and provided one, but it just didn't happen. I've also had this experience in other languages: for example, in the 1978 Himnario Bautista the text given as a translation of Fanny Crosby's "Near the Cross" isn't about the cross really at all, and the text given for REVIVE US AGAIN, purportedly as a translation of "We praise thee, O God, for the Son of thy love", is a trinitarian text much more reminiscent of "Come, thou almighty King" than of the English "original".

So I've decided to start a new blog and website devoted to these sorts of issues.

Stay tuned. ;-)

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