MANY VOICES, ONE FLOCK: Church Music in Guatemala

OCMC music team  members in village of Aguacate

OCMC music team members in village of Aguacate

On the day of Pentecost many foreign languages were ecstatically uttered by the apostles, but instead of dividing the multitude in attendance, it united them in a bond of love. Such was the experience of the five member OCMC catechetical team that came to teach the music of the Orthodox Church to the faithful in a number of Mayan villages. The team members had the benefit of the previous choral training offered by OCMC mission specialists Matushka Rozanne and Fr. David Rucker to build upon. Presenting a blend of many sacred Orthodox compositions, especially those of the Divine Liturgy and selected feast days, the team members were able to vocally convey a sense of the holiness of the church in a number of languages and music styles. We sang melodies for them in Russian, Greek, English, Arabic and Spanish, and they reciprocated in the local dialects of their village, such as Chuj and Popti. In the village of Aguacate, where Chuj is the predominant language, the team members learned to sing a hymn in Chuj, to the surprise and delight of the congregation. As team members we learned how important music is to our Mayan brothers and sisters, especially in the context of worship. They express their deep faith in God with every fiber of their being, singing with an intensity rarely seen in Orthodox communal worship. Even after our teaching sessions were over, they stayed on and asked for more. The spiritual joy was palpable as we sang on with them in various tongues. As the Orthodox Church reaches out to other people groups in missions, we have come to realize that every country down to its smallest village has a tradition of its own that must be respected and celebrated. No one¬†expression of Orthodoxy can suffice for all. The divided flame on each apostles head reminds us that in our diversity we can still experience unity in the faith and and fellowship in the Holy Spirit. In Guatemala the inspiration of Pentecost lives on through the vibrant strains of its music. As members of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, may we make melody in hymns and spiritual songs with our newly received Mayan brothers and sisters. Together let us make real the words of Jesus, who said: “I have other sheep that are not of this fold, them also I must bring, and they will hear my voice, and there shall be one flock, and one shepherd” (John 10:16).


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