May I Sing You a Song
by Daniel Owino Ogweno
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Bit be, bit be on your ha
Hallelu, hallelu X2
Baby duong, so so so so,
Heke likil gola so sata for jorrrrr!
I want to find out from you, the reader, three things about the song above:
1. Do you know the song? In other words, was the song familiar?
2. Did you understand it?
3. Did you know the language in which it was sung?
Unless you were part of the choir that sung this song, your answers to all the tree questions above are most likely “No!”
If I was to appear in person and sing you this song, you’d definitely vote that I know what I am singing. But let me confess, I don’t!
The song is comprised of three languages: English, Luo (my mother tongue) and a tongue whose interpretation is not available for me though I created it.
The song was supposed to be English. It was sung by a choir in a primary school where I had enrolled as a pupil.
Because I was not versed with English at the time (I had just started learning the language), what I heard was not what was sung—I heard my own things. That which I didn’t understand I substituted. Am I the only one who do this? I think it is natural to substitute what we don’t understand but which happens to be part of our environment.
I have a little sweet girl. She is three and half. My daughter loves songs and music. In our house we operate four languages: English, Luo, Kiswahili and Norwegian. The kids are only versed with Norwegian (principally) and then some English. When it comes to our music collection, we have gospel music from around the world but mostly from local languages in Africa. We don’t understand all the languages of course, and we may not even get the right lyrics in some cases. But this hasn’t stopped us singing along some of the songs. It is exhilarating especially listening to Baraka, our daughter, trying to figure out the lyrics and sing along. This is more so when she is singing a song whose lyrics we understand. Though she gets quite a bit right, it is an interesting mixture of the song and her own things. But whatever it is she sings, she does so with enthusiasm.
Just as we substitute that which we don’t understand, so do we speculate about them. People mistake us to know what we are talking about when we eloquently articulate what we speculate.
In the kindergarten where our daughter goes, they usually think that she is singing in our local language (Luo) when in fact she neither understands nor speaks the language. Even when she is singing her own things, she sings it so well that these people are certain that she knows what she is singing.
But if you listen carefully, and if you have the spirit of discernment you will realise that something is not adding up in the song. But this can be a daunting task for someone who doesn’t understand the language.
People who were in the choir who sung the song above would understand that what I am singing is a distorted version of the true song they used to sing.
What does this mean? Sometimes it isn't the eloquence of our articulation that validates our convictions, it is humbling ourselves to seek out those who know something to help us. In my case, it would help to seek those who sung the song and find out the actual lyrics.
It may be easy for one who sing wrong lyrics to confess that one doesn't know what one sings. It is a different case when it comes to theological and doctirnal artuculators. First, just as distorted lyrics can entertain, "wrong" doctrines also have the power to entertain. Second, it is humbling to confess that we don't understand what should be "obvious", especially if it is about something that is part of our everyday environment (See how I missed it by far when I attempted to cook an answer to what I never knew: My Mother is 40 and I am 31).
This is the reason for which the sceptics can wax eloquent distorting the song of creation and the purpose of our existence thinking that substituting, for example, creation with evolution sounds entertaining enough to hold their audience’s attention.
The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
(1 Corinthians 2:14, NIV).
Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
(2 Peter 3:15-16 NIV).
Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them.
(Jude 1:10 NIV).
See also: Job 37:5, 42:3.
Something to Ponder:
A distorted song sounds exhilaratingly entertaining; can this be true about a distorted truth? (See. 2 Timothy 4:3).
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