Cultural Inflection in Worship

Each culture uses its own rhythms, melodies, and instruments to convey meaning through music. An intonation that signals politeness in one language may signal disbelief in another. It would be inappropriate to use victory music at a tragic scene, party music at a serious scene, or shaman music at a worship scene. A familiar musical setting helps people identify with the message. A song that sounds beautiful to a Westerner may sound dissonant to someone else and hinder them from opening up to the message.

—Wycliffe Bible Translators, “Scripture Engagement”

Homegrown Worship

When missionaries came to our lands they brought not only the seed of the Gospel, but their own plant of Christianity, flower pot included!  So, what we have to do is to break the flower pot, take out the seed of the Gospel, sow it in our own cultural soil, and let our own version of Christianity grow.

—D.T. Niles (1908-1970), from Sri Lanka