Friday, September 17, 2010

Da Na Se: A Night of Hymns

I do not sing.

I did not want to sing. But I needed a local friend and hope that I could string a single sentence together in Twi, the local language, without slaughtering it. I reluctantly followed my group members over to the other house where Akua and Gina were gathering to teach us hymns. Hymns make up a huge part of Ghanaian music called high life. They also tend to be universal to all of the different Christian denominations in the area. Akua, the landlord of the other house, I thought was a good example of that. Even though she was a Catholic, the ten-minute walk up the dirt hill to the Catholic Church in heals did not seem as sensible as attending the Presbyterian Church right next to her house. As long as you attend church and believe in God, these hymns apply.

Even to me, the kid sitting on the cement bench trying to stun an oncoming spider with my Wal-Mart flashlight, this was a special experience. I could not help but feel that God really does love all of his children, and that it does not matter where we are in the world, he knows us personally. It was a testimony I was trying to learn at the Branch, but it seems these lessons always come quicker with music.

We learned three different hymns, but “Da Na Se” was my favorite. Here are the lyrics and the translation:


Da na se (Thanks)
Da na se (Thanks)
Da wo nyame na se (Thanks to God)

Da na se (Thanks)
Da na se (Thanks)
Da wo nyame na se (Thanks to God)

E fri se oye (Because he is good)
Da na do do so (And his goodnesses are many)

Da na se (Thanks)
Da na se (Thanks)
Da wo nyame na se (Thanks to God)

After three songs everyone’s brains caved in. Gina started teaching Chase this hymn about shaking your “gulla gulla” (butt) that God gave you, which may or may not be something I teach Primary kids someday, Akua was singing a lullaby she only remembered half of, and our attempts to teach “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam” and “Pop Corn Popping” proved unfruitful. We ended the night singing “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” It was the only song we all knew in English, and they all knew it better than me.

I learned many songs after that first night, but this is still the most memorable.

Gipsy

(Field Notes: 22.38, 62.26, 64.32-35)

Here is a recording of what it sounds like. Pretend it is not me singing and you will get a better idea of how it is supposed to sound.

1 comment:

  1. I remember that song! Hilda taught it to us one night!

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