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Bardcore Worship #2 Blending old and new September 27, 2020

Posted by Pete B in worship.
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It’s now a few weeks since I discovered  bardcore – faux medieval style versions of 20th and 21st century pop songs, shared on YouTube along with pictures that may (or look like like they may) have come from the Bayeux tapestry or books from somewhere between the 5th and 15th centuries.

For those looking for religious pictures there are no shortage of sources now online such as this 14th century picture digitised by the British Library. There are many interesting scenes, including this illustration of why Mary didn’t recognise Jesus after the resurrection until he took his hat off. Some of the illustrations take a little working out for 21st viewers, but these were once a bold attempt at telling an old story in a contemporary setting.

the ‘Holkham Bible Picture Book’ c 1327-1335 Digitised in the British Library

As you see, he actual mixing of old and new in interesting ways isn’t anything new in itself. The church has being doing it for centuries. Sometimes it is the updating of an old, but not forgotten hymn, such as “Be thou My Vision” so that the grammar and vocabulary in lines like “Naught be all else to me, save that thou art ” are a little less obscure for people for whom English isn’t their first language, and also for all those of us for whom English has moved on a bit since it first made sense.

wikipedia 1919 Church Hymnal with Accompanying Tunes

If you know the hymn you might also know that it’s a really old one. What I didn’t know though was that although the lyrics were translated from a 6th or 8th century Irish poem, and the tune an Irish folk song, the two weren’t brought together until translated in 1912 by Mary Elizabeth Byrne.

Many other old hymns are still in use, either in something like their original form, or adapted, remixed, and otherwise modernised throughout the centuries. I love that we have access to so many historic books. I’ve got several CD’s of the ‘latest’ worship hits from last few years. Here’s an older equivalent… a collection of hymn tunes from the most modern and approv’d authors

available on archive.org

and before ear buds, before smart phones, before ipods, even before ‘personal stereos’, or any way of recording songs, people walked around with items such as the, “Pocket hymn book, designed as a constant companion for the pious

available on archive.org

A little more exploring the archives may uncover more treasures. So following the bardcore trend, which modern worship songs would sound good in medieval style? Or which popular worship hits from past centuries have stood the test of time or or due a fresh remix?

Bardcore Christian Worship songs #1 September 9, 2020

Posted by Pete B in worship.
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A new genre has emerged recently medieval style versions of 20th and 21st century pop songs, known by some as bardcore.

a few modern medieval classics from youtube.com/c/Hildegardvonblingin

Fusions of old and new, or of different cultural styles, or even of different languages are far from a new idea. If you’ve heard Summertime Sadness, Jolene, or Somebody that I used to know, but not heard them like this then I recommend them and others for a fun diversion.

Other housebound artists have produced a huge number of other renditions. Here’s an instrumental version of “Land down under” while you read more.

with 425,346 views here is @mysticzaru version of “Land Down Under”

In addition to giving us the line “Here, taketh thine sandwich of vegemite, traveller.” YouTuber Mystic Zaru also gives a fun link “You can make an image like the one seen in the video here: https://htck.github.io/bayeux/#!/

In a later post I’ll point to a couple of other medieval manuscripts that might accompany more sacred sounding melodies.

I’ve yet to discover modern Christian worship songs given the same treatment but after a little research I found some “inverted bardcore”, medieval music in a modern setting.

Here’s a 14th century hymn that made it to number 4 in the UK singles charts in 1976

Some might consider it cultural appropriation, but there are many other songs of centuries past to be mined and modernised, or even appreciated in something approximating their original arrangements.

You can read more about the original “In Dulci Jubilo” on Wikipedia which states:

“In its original setting, the carol is a macaronic text of German and Latin dating from the Middle Ages.”

This mixing Latin and the local vernacular language was common and something that perhaps fits well with some contemporary thinking on how multilingual worship can connect with people today.

More medieval worship favourites in another post soon. Meanwhile what are your favourite songs from the 5th-15th century?

The Bible in 700 languages: Celebrate and keep going September 3, 2020

Posted by Pete B in Bible Translation, Statistics.
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Several organisations have been highlighting a new milestone…

After 24 years with Wycliffe I attended my first New Testament Dedication on Sunday …admittedly I did so via facebook live, so not quite the same as being there. But exiting to think that today’s technology allows us to connect in ways that weren’t possible just a few years ago.

Each new publication is a cause for celebration which is why it’s no bad thing that we can’t say exactly which language was the 700th in which a full Bible has been published.

This isn’t so much because it was a photo finish as to which past the post first, but rather that the finishing line can be a little vague especially with the number of agencies and churches now involved in Bible translation.

Do you celebrate when the last verse is translated? When the book is printed (or the app completed)? Or when it is actually in the hands, phones, and hearts of the people it has been translated for?

In terms of counting the 700 languages it’s also complicated by when it actually gets recorded in the database. (I have the privilege of working with the team behind that)

I was able to help colleagues in Wycliffe UK find both a chart showing progress and two examples of recently published Bibles.

From Press release Wycliffe UK: Bible translated into its 700th language

The Huichol (Wixáritari) Bible was launched in Mexico on 10 July 2020. The New Testament had been completed in 1968 having been started in the 1940’s.

In contrast, the Ellomwe Bible was launched in Malawi just five years after the Ellomwe New Testament was published. (actual product smaller than in the photo below and also available online via bible.com )

Photo: © Bible Society of Malawi

Predicting quite how long translation work will take is not an exact science. While there have been many advances in technology and techniques there are still many obstacles to overcome. In an additional 1550 languages there is at least a New Testament and there is ongoing work of some kind in in several hundred of these.

Thank you to all of you who have prayed or supported us and others in the work of Bible translation. Thank you to all of you who have helped someone find a Bible in their own language (whether one that been made available his year, or been available for decades/centuries).

Celebrate! and keep going!

Guernesiais: The Gruffalo & The Gospel August 29, 2020

Posted by Pete B in Language revitalisation.
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It’s a year since modern children’s classic, The Gruffalo, was published in Guernesias as a part of language preservation and revitalisation efforts. These efforts have just received a fresh boost of funding for a revamped Guernsey Language Commission

two books in Guenesiais, the Gruffalo and the Gospel of St Matthew

Meanwhile it’s 157 years since the gospel of Matthew was published in the same language, at a time when a lot more people on the island of Guernsey spoke Guernesias. The translation was commissioned by the nephew of Napoléon Bonaparte and an initial run of 250 copies were printed. These details I learned along with other interesting bits of history from the introduction to the 2016 digital version that is available here alongside translations in 1465 languages on Bible.com and the YouVersion Bible app (digitised with the help of MissionAssist). It is also available on Google Books where it also includes a three page pronunciation guide.

Of course the existence and availability of these two books will not be enough to save what is a severely endangered language. The people of Guernsey will have to decide for themselves whether their language is something they wish to preserve and whether that preservation is about recording the last remaining speakers or in capturing the interest of a new generation of speakers. Find out more at https://learnguernsey.com/

If enough people decide they want to keep the language alive then there are lots of things that are possible. I took a free online course in language revival via the University of Adelaide a few years ago and have blogged a few thoughts of my own since.
The course started again today (Aug 29) so far 10,868 people around the world already enrolled.

Now you are talking my language! July 18, 2020

Posted by Pete B in Bible Translation, multilingualism.
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Taal wordt vaak gezien als een barrière, maar is ook een pluspunt.

El idioma se ve con frecuencia como una barrera, pero también es un activo.

La langue est souvent considérée comme un obstacle, mais c’est aussi un atout.

Язык часто рассматривается как барьер, но он также является преимуществом.

If you cannot understand what is said or written, then that creates an obvious barrier to understanding.

If something is said in a way that is more personal to you, you can connect more deeply. Language has not just ceased to be a barrier, it has become a bridge and gone from being a negative to a plus point.

Even those of us who only speak one language recognise that some ways of using that language connect with us more than others. Language can be formal, dry, dated, conveying a message in a comprehensible form or it can be human, personal and tell me stuff in a way that I really get it.

That’s why Bible translation isn’t just about overcoming a language barrier. That’s why any aspect of intercultural or multilingual church isn’t just for people who don’t speak English well yet (or other main language of the congregation).

Google translate can sometimes be enough to help me get over a language barrier, but isn’t always enough to help me really connect in a way that a good human author could and so I apologise if any of this has been lost in translation. Feel free to share or repost in a way that says it better,

Happy Birthday Canada (Celebrate in 200+ Languages) July 1, 2020

Posted by Pete B in Uncategorized.
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Happy Canada Day!

July 1st is often celebrated as Canada’s birthday.
Rather than inviting you to sing Happy Birthday or the Canadian National Anthem, here is “a virtual collaboration of 70 Toronto Gospel Artists, Worship Leaders, Music Directors & Pastors from across the city proclaiming a blessing over Toronto and cities around the world”

You’ll hear a few different languages in the recording but only a fraction of the 200+ known to be used by people living in Toronto.

An earlier version of the same song is also great but a bit less multilingual despite having contributions from over 200 people across the country and declaring that “The Church in Canada is beautiful, broad and diverse and it is a nearly impossible task to accurately represent the full breadth of true diversity within the church in Canada from coast to coast to coast.”

To be more multilingual you could try saying Happy Birthday or a cultural equivalent in any of 250 languages listed at https://www.omniglot.com/language/phrases/birthday.htm

Or you could find versions of the Blessing in many of the languages spoken in Canada from my Blessing playlist – which now includes about 140 languages (I need to do a recount soon)

Giraffes & Elephants June 26, 2020

Posted by Pete B in Uncategorized.
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There’s a great story about a Giraffe and and Elephant that I heard about from a pastor in Virginia, which you can read more at https://onevoicefellowship.org/love-is-flexible/ or find the original fable in a 20 year old management book, “Building a house for Diversity” by R Roosevelt Thomas.

Building a House for Diversity

It’s a rather American sounding giraffe but it’s a story that seems to have resonated a lot with people who deliver diversity training …and with people who recognise that we might sometimes need to ‘do church’ differently, or better still, ‘be church’ in some new ways in which the people who’ve traditionally been in charge, don’t insist that outsiders conform in order to be accepted.

I’ve only read the parable, not the book, but know that there are many challenges. It’s not as simple as giraffes and elephants, because sometimes the real differences are not so apparent.

More thoughts to come. Meanwhile, like many of us, I’ve a lot of listening and learning to do.

The Blessing – how many languages will it be sung in? May 10, 2020

Posted by Pete B in multilingualism, worship.
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Updated Oct 15, 2020
A new song based on an ancient blessing quickly became the anthem of 2020 for virtual choirs around the globe. I first heard the “UK Blessing” performed by a virtual choir from 65 churches and received almost 2 million views in it’s first week.
The UK Blessing wasn’t the first and definitely not the last attempt to bring churches together from a single country.

One day blessings will be sung in over 7000 languages, but not necessarily to this tune

I like the song and love the significance of so many people coming together to sing (or sign) it. This same concept has been repeated in many different communities and countries so I went looking for how many different languages I could find it in and began adding them to a playlist.

To start with I found English (a few varieties), French, Spanish, Hebrew, Tagalog, Farsi, Italian, Malalayam, Hindi, (and another in both Malalayam and Hindi) Nepali, Romanian, Polish, Papiamentu, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Luganda, Mongolian, Lingala, Thai, Mandarin Chinese, Nigerian Pidgin, Tamil, Amharic, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Swahili. I’ve since added Shona, Ndebele, Xhosa (each part of The Blessing – Zimbabwe), Rukiga, Haitian Creole, BSL, ASL, Makaton, and Filipino Sign Language (There are 380+ sign languages in the world). One artist sings in Portuguese, French, English, Lingala & Korean. The Malaysian Blessing includes singers from 80 churches and includes English, Tamil, Bahasa Malaysia, Mandarin, Dusun, Kelabit and Iban. Then came Ukranian, Fijian, Ekegussi, Afrikaans , Vietnamese, Burmese, Mauritian Kreol, and Hungarian , and the list kept growing. I almost stopped counting at 70 but then I heard the Nigerian and Ghanaian versions, soon followed by a version for India with 31 different languages.
By the start of June there were over versions in over 140 languages. If it wasn’t already the most translated song, it was probably the song that had been translated most quickly into so many languages.

New versions were still coming out and by of Sept 1st it has been sung and signed in at least 160 languages.

I’ve not spotted many other languages in the last few weeks so this may be one curve that is flattening out. Here is the full alphabetical list of what I’ve found so far:

Albanian, Afrikaans, Ambon, American Sign Language (ASL), Amharic, Ao Naga, Arabic, Armenian, Assamese, Bafamg, Bagangte, Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa Malaysia, Batak Pakpak, Batak Simalungun, Bali, Bassa, Batak Karo, Batak Toba, Bengali, Benin, Bhojpuri, Birom, Bisaya, Bodo,British Sign Language (BSL), Bulgarian, Bundeli, Burmese, Cebuano, Chatino, Chhattisgarhi, Chinese (Mandarin), Chinese (Cantonese), Cilacap, Damara Nama, Dari, Dayak, Duala, Dusun, Dutch, Ekegussi, Ende, English, Esan, Eton, Ewe, Ewondo, Farsi, Fijian, Filipino Sign Language, French, Garhwali, German, Greek, Gujarati, Haitian Creole, Hakha Chin, Hausa, Haryanavi, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Iban, Ibibo, Igbo, Igede, Ijaw, Italian, Japanese, Japanes Sign Language, Jawa, Kalabari, Kannada, Karenni (Kayah), Karina, Karo, Kashmiri, Kelabit, Khasia, Khmer, Kikuyu, Kirundi, Kinyarwanda, Kokborok, Konkani, Korean, Krio, Kutai, Kyrgyz, Ladakhi, Lahauli, Lampung, Lingala, Luganda, Macedonian, Makaton, Maithili, Malagasy, Malayalam, Malaysian Sign Language (BMI), Manado, Manipuri, Marathi, Mauritian Kreol, Mexican sign language, Mewari, Mixteco, Mizo, Mongolian, Nagamese, Ndebele, Nepali, New Zealand Sign Language, Nias, Nigerian Pidgin, Nishi, Norwegian, Odia, Okrika, Oshiwambo, Otjiherero, Padang, Papiamentu, Papua, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Rukiga, Russian, Sadri, Sawa, Scottish Gaelic, Shona, Sinhala, Spanish, Sunda, Swahili, Swedish, Tagalog, Tamil, Teluga, Ternate, Te Reo Māori, Thai, Tiv, Tongan, Toraja, Tupuri, Turkish, Ukranian, Ukrainian sign language, Urhobo, Urdu, Uzbek, Vietnamese, Waray, Welsh, Xhosa, Yoruba, Zapotec, Zomi and Zulu.

This also included versions in 12 sign languages (so far) from UK, Singapore, Mexico, Philippines, USA, Uzbekistan, Malaysia, Nigeria, New Zealand, Columbia, Japan. The final one in my playlist being Makaton, a sign language developed for children and adults with communication and learning difficulties.

According to Billboard.com, “The Blessing”, was written by Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes on Feb 27th and first recorded in Charlotte, North Carolina on March 1st. The lyrics are much older, based on Numbers 6:24-26

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”


These verses have been translated into at least the 700 languages that have full Bibles, of which at least 4-500 are available via bible.com, bible.is global.bible, find.bible and scriptureearth.org .(Over half the 3400 languages in which some scripture has been translated are now online in some form)

Since I first posted about this I’ve added many updates, each ending with the same question:

In how many languages could be it be sung by the people connecting online to your church?

This final video is from one congregation in London, UK, in a city where well over 300 languages are known to be used (and others are yet to be counted). If you like it, share it. The Blessing in 160 Languages playlist has just passed 5000 views but the goal is not to see how many hits that can get, the goal is simply to join the prayer and celebration and celebrate as part of the #multilingualchurch.

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