Let All Nations Praise the Lord
The biblical psalms have been the 3000-year songbook of devotion for God’s people for thousands of years. They have also been used in frontier missions among Unreached People Groups (UPGs).
I’ve led workshops to translate some Psalms and set them to culturally-appropriate music in Ghana, Nigeria, Togo and Benin. The workshop in Benin was among a people group that did not have a single known Christian at the time – not even the Bible translators; all were Muslim. Because the Zabur (Psalms) are mentioned in the Qur’an and are regarded as inspired by God, they were a “safe” part of the Bible to use in translation and song creation. And because many cultures in West Africa influenced by Islam have an “arts patronage” system established, it was easy to commission songs based on Psalm excerpts from a local Muslim composer, who made part of his living by composing songs for a small payment. The recorded songs were welcomed by the Muslim community, and not perceived as “threatening” as if we had started by making NT passages into songs. And since the alphabet and literacy were in the early stages of development, indigenous Scripture songs were by far the best way for the majority of the people to learn God’s Word. This way they could get used to the idea that it could be sung using their local music system and language.
Psalm 117 is one of my favorite Psalms:
Praise the Lord, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples of the earth.
For he loves us with unfailing covenental love,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord!
What a wonderful call to the nations to find their true calling: worshiping the King of Kings as revealed in Scripture!
(To hear audio recordings from this workshop visit my blog.)