Multilingual Worship: Is it Worth it?

Continuing our series about reconciled worship, the following was originally published by Royce Morris for Proskuneo:

Is it worth the trouble to sing in a new/different language if there is only one person there who speaks it? I’d say… YES!

Imagine this… You have grown up as a White American in the suburbs of a mid-size city in the Midwest. You have never traveled. God (via your company) then moves you to a country where hardly any English is spoken… let’s say somewhere in India.

Everything is different there from the way people wash their clothes to the way people drive. You feel overwhelmed by the new culture and language but you are slowly starting to get the hang of it.
You are able to find a solid church where the Pastor speaks Hindi slow enough for you to understand. You even begin to learn some worship songs in Hindi. But what would happen to your heart if you heard their music leader suddenly burst into Great is Thy Faithfulness, or How Great is Our God in English?
Even if their pronunciation wasn’t that good, wouldn’t you feel relief to be able to sing to God in a language where you don’t have to think of the whole sentence before you can even begin to say it? Wouldn’t you feel loved by the church that was stepping out of their comfort zone to allow you to worship in your heart language? If you were that American person would you say it was worth it for them to learn that song or chorus for you?

What about here in the States? Do you think it’s worth it to learn a chorus in Korean even if there’s only one man there who speaks it? What if you and Spanish are mortal enemies, but an immigrant family who doesn’t speak much English starts attending your congregation?

I don’t want you to misunderstand me. I believe that people, when living in a culture outside their own, should make an effort to learn the language and customs of that place to operate there but not at the expense of losing their own.

It honors God when we consider others more than ourselves. 

Do you think it’s worth it?
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Katelin Hansen
Katelin Hansen is the editor of By Their Strange Fruit (BTSF), an online forum to facilitate justice and understanding across racial divides. BTSF explores how Christianity's often-bungled relationship with race and racism affects modern ministry and justice. Recognizing that racial brokenness hinders our witness to the world, BTSF strives to increase the visibly of healthy and holy racial discussion by approaching justice and reconciliation from a Christ-minded perspective Follow more conversations at