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You are here: UMWiki>WorldInTwoCities Web>LocalMusicScenes>LutheranMusic>ChristLutheran (17 Jan 2009, schu1778)

Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill (ELCA)

105 West University Avenue
St. Paul MN 55103

This St. Paul church, founded in 1868, prides itself on its racially diverse membership; its mission statement reads, “We are a diverse people brought together by the grace of God to share with others what we ourselves have received.” Its 350 members currently speak ten different languages, though the two major ethnic groups at church services are Cambodian-Americans and Euro-Americans. Most of the Cambodians joined the church when it became active in ministering to Southeast Asian refugees escaping Communist regimes in their homelands in the 1970s. Most of the Cambodians who joined the church came from spiritual backgrounds that combined elements of Brahmanism and Buddhism.

A bilingual interpreter translates the English service into Khmer live each Sunday. Khmer parishioners may wear headphones through which they hear the Khmer translation.

At each service, a member from the Cambodian group delivers a gospel reading in Khmer. During communion, the Khmer choir sings a Khmer anthem accompanied by a tro khmer (a Cambodian 3-string spike fiddle), played by choir director and professional musician, Bun Leoung, and a piano, played by the church accompanist, Paul Swenson. Singing in a choir is new to Cambodians. While there are vocal musical traditions in Cambodia, the concept of relatively untrained musicians singing in a group in front of an audience is a new one for most Cambodian members of Christ Lutheran.

The Khmer choir selects the majority of its repertoire from a Cambodian hymnal, created in a Thai refugee camp by Christian & Missionary Alliance (http://www.cmalliance.org/). The hymnal consists of western hymns with lyrics translated into Khmer as well as Khmer tunes whose text has been adapted to express a Christian message.

The only prerequisite for Cambodian Lutherans when joining the Khmer Choir is that they are able to read Khmer. This requirement, however, excludes many people, especially elderly members. The choir has made exceptions in certain cases and in two of these cases, the women learned to read within a year or two, solely from practicing their Khmer hymns. Thaly Cavanaugh explains: “Some members read only a minimum, but they want to participate. Two people gave a testimony that they don’t read and write, they have never read or written in the past. But through God, they were inspired to be able to read some…They say they are able to read because God guided them and showed them” (Cavanaugh 2006).

Listen to Khmer Music from Christ Lutheran Church:

1. Cambodian (Khmer) Choir, Christ Lutheran on Capitol Hill, Khmer Anthem #91: “Druung Broang Jam Joo-ee” (“The Lord Would Help”) from the Khmer Hymnal. MP3 Download 4470.2 K
  • Text by Barnabas Mom. The tune is a traditional Khmer lullaby “Pnoang Bumpay Goan” (“Indigenous Lullaby”).
  • Musicians: Leoung Bun (director, tro and voice), Paul Swenson (piano), Thaly Cavanaugh (voice), Pho Tep (voice), Samuel Chim (voice), Huy Himmtann (voice).
  • Lyrics in English, translated by Catherine Mao:
“When I’m troubled, I think on Jesus.
He calms me, oh, he calms me and gives me true inner peace.
When friends abandon me, the Lord consoles me.
He gave his very life, oh, he gave his very life to save me.
When I am ill, I have the Lord as the greatest healer.
He revives me, oh, he revives me and brings me back to health.
When I am stumbling, the Lord walks with me. He stands ready to help, oh, he stands ready to help.
He will not let me be lost.”

2. Cambodian (Khmer) Choir, Christ Lutheran on Capitol Hill, Khmer Anthem #15: “Saw-Sahr Pryehh Koon” (“Praise God’s Grace”). MP3 Download 3523.7 K

  • Musicians: Leoung Bun (director, tro and voice), Paul Swenson (piano), Thaly Cavanaugh (voice), Pho Tep (voice), Samuel Chim (voice), Huy Himmtann (voice).
  • Lyrics in English, translated by Catherine Mao:

“Today is such a good day, for we gather together to praise the grace of God, to praise God who is so gracious, who gives grace to all of us. Come together without losing zeal: male, female; let us all encourage one another To come and praise the God of grace, who has been so very gracious and compassionate.

Let us praise the Lord, who was willing to come to earth, out of love; To put aside heaven and be born human; that is, Jesus our Savior, Who died for us all. Come and praise the God of grace, who has been so very gracious and compassionate.

God the Holy Spirit leads us to walk toward peace, to overcome the obstacles we face, And whatever troubles we encounter, to follow only the command of the Lord. The Spirit rests upon us as promised. Let us praise the God of grace, who has been so very gracious and compassionate.”

Official website of Christ Lutheran Church:

http://www.clcoch.com/

Topic revision: r4 - 17 Jan 2009 - 13:37:05 - schu1778
 
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