Saturday, August 2

Work Progressing on Saamhla

The word "saamhla" is not Burmese, but Falam Chin, a word that has been "coined" within the past eighteen months. One of the key projects we have been working on is getting the Psalms translated into metrical versions for the Falam Chin speaking people. It is our hope that with the advent of a metrical Psalter, Saamhla, the people of the villages will begin singing the Psalms. In fact, one of the things that the MRPC has asked me to speak to them about in the upcoming conference in Tahan is how they might better incorporate the Psalms into their corporate and family worship. We are not "hurrying" this project to completion. While we take the existence of numerous Psalters for granted in our country, we should also remember that it took Calvin and Beza from 1539 until 1562 to complete a Psalter for the French Reformed of Geneva. It is far better to sing a few well crafted and well translated Psalms than to sing 150 "ditties" that are little better than loose paraphrases of the Psalms.

Ultimately, of course, the success of the mission in Myanmar will depend upon the Holy Spirit applying the sweet doctrine of his free grace in Jesus Christ to the souls of the elect there. But hand in hand with that gospel, there must be Psalter and Catechism. It is our hope to be able to teach the next generation of preachers in that country to preach both expositorally (hence we are taking numerous copies of Perkins' The Art of Prophesying into the country on this trip) and catechetically. The doctrines of Scripture must permeate his people; and what better ways than the singing of the Psalms and the memorization and recitation of reformed catechisms.

The Chin people, for the most part, do not read our western musical notation (what they call "stem-notes"). They are able, however, to sing making use of a system of notation called "Tonic Solfa" (no, it has no discernible relation to the boy band). Here is an example of what Tonic Solfa notation looks like. Michael Zahau, one of the Reformed men we know in Yangon, has thus far complete translation of about 45 selections from the Comprehensive Psalter, all in common meter. Rev. Tha Nei Sum and missionary Hrang Zawn have done an additional 50 complete Psalms into the Falam tongue. Hopefully by the end of 2003 we will have the funding in place to mass produce the first Falam language Psalter (Saamhla) and distribute it among the Chin tribes via colporteurs.


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