Music Which Inspires — Baba Yetu

Melodies and rhythms make me begin to dream, which is one of the reasons I don’t like music on while I’m trying to work. It lures my heart and mind away from the task at hand and leaves me pondering the world which the music is forming in my head.

That’s not to say I don’t like music, I love it. I particularly love to sing, but music grabs me deep and won’t let go. Which is why I can’t have music playing while I try to get work done 1.

But the dreams are so wonderful.

The past few days I’ve been playing a song called “Baba Yetu” on repeat whenever I’ve been driving 2. It’s a stunning chorale rendition of the Lord’s Prayer, sung in Swahili and developed using African intonation and rhythm. It was composed by Christopher Tin and the piece has won multiple awards. Even better, it was originally composed as the title piece for a video game, Civilization IV 3.

There is nothing about this piece of music I do not like. The clean opening of a single soloist, the way the choir joins in to reiterate the opening line, the arc of the score from quiet to majestic to contemplative. It’s the way my soul longs for prayer to be done. And it is stuck in my head.

As I listen to “Baba Yetu” over and over an over I dream of it as a movie displaying the wonderful diversity among ABCNJ. Not just in terms of ethnicity and culture, but in geography and culture and theology as well. ABCNJ includes the waves of the shore and the cut of the Delaware River Water Gap. It boast lighthouses, cities, and farms 4. The fellowship embraces traditional 5, contemporary 6, and even a few liturgical fellowships. We are made up of Anglo, African-American, Latino, Haitian, Asian, and African congregations. Our theology is mostly moderate, leaning more towards conservative, but there are outliers among us which keep us honest and prevent us from becoming a toxic monoculture. And as I listen to this song and imagine the family I’m part of I see soaring shots of beaches, valleys, and lighthouses. I imagine churches worshipping, laughing, and praying. I see us working in our communities – offering love, peace, and joy in Jesus’ name. And I see an open hand of invitation. It’s a lovely and stirring dream. May it become ever more real.

Baba Yetu.

  1. Not even when I’m doing mundane tasks like yard work. Music makes everything but the dream slow down. 
  2. I’ll often listen to a song over and over once it gets caught in my head, I need to follow the dream until it ends. 
  3. Yes, video games are art. 
  4. Often not more than a half-hour from each other. New Jersey also has the Pine Barrens, which is a world unto itself. 
  5. Well, earth 20th Century, anyway. 
  6. If the 1980’s is contemporary. I may be dreaming, but I’m still snarky.