Nitamwimbia Bwana

My friend, Tanya found a website that has a bunch of song lyrics and mp3s for a ministry in Uganda. The site features some favorites at our church like “Baraka Za Mungu”, “Yesu Azali Awa” and “Kwake Yesu Nasimama”. It also has a few songs that I had never heard before including one that I would like to add into our repertoire called “Nitamwimbia Bwana” which means “I will sing to God.”
I get a number of recordings or web links from the African members of our church that have songs that they would like to incorporate into our worship. Often, I listen to the recording and determine that it’s not a song that we will be able to use. Here’s the different criteria that I use to determine if it will work for our worship:
Lots of repetition. We are in America and so we can’t realistically expect the Americans in our congregation to be able to handle singing a song that requires us to be able to sing a lot of new Swahili, French or Lingala. Repetition means that we can learn the basic hook like “Yesu Azali awa” and then sing it 4 times in a row.
Can I lead the song? Sometimes I get a song that has very complicated lead part sung by a skilled African worship leader. We have a few really good African lead singers in our congregation, but if a song can only be led by one of them, then it will not be sung very often unless they are willing to always be available to lead it. Instead, if the song has a simple lead part that I can learn, then we can do it whenever I am there which is almost every Sunday. I have a ton of excellent Congolese music that we will not be able to do until we get a really skilled Congolese song leader who will be able to lead them. (Maybe if we could lure Perpetue back to U City…hmmmmm.)
Does the song have anything to say of value? This is always an issue for a song of any tradition, but it is particularly hard to find simple, repetitive songs that have anything of value to say. Sometimes, I will hear a song that I really like, but when I read the translation, I find that it has a very bland message or sometimes says things that are doctrinally suspect.
With those things in mind, I get really excited when I hear a song like “Nitamwimbia Bwana” because it meets all three criteria.
For an example of a song that I really like, but we will not be able to do in church because it is too complicated click here. The song starts about a minute into the video with a very syncopated, non-repetitive, lead part that is sung by two men in harmony! I think it is a very fun sounding song, and I am sure that the words express a lot more than most of our usual “Jesus is great” songs, but I can’t imagine how long it would take me to learn to sing the Lingala with all the same inflections and rhythms. I wish I could sing it; I love how the lead seems to just float over the dance beat with such freedom.

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  1. #1 by Heidi Vincent on July 31, 2008 - 11:48 am

    That is a pretty neat website. Perpetue back to Ucity? Oh no you don’t! You guys will have to come visit South City to enjoy Congolese songs. 😉

  2. #2 by Rinnie on August 3, 2008 - 9:39 pm

    Thanks for the link, Kirk. Hearing and singing to the songs brought back many memories!

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