Hymnal Workshop and Hymn Festival / by Matthew Wood


From June 17—21 the GKLI pastors and musicians came together to work on a new Indonesian Hymnal, learn about historic Christian worship practices, learn how to critically examine the content of a hymn, and join their voices in a Hymn Fest.

This event was a response to request from the GKLI for help producing a new Indonesian Hymnal and for catechesis in the history and substance of Christian worship.

The first two days were spent meeting and strategizing about the new hymnal. It will be called Buku Ibadah Lutheran (Lutheran Worship Book). The entirety of the hymnal will be in the Indonesian Language. This is a huge step for GKLI. Most people in Indonesia speak at least two languages, the language of their tribe and Indonesian. Christian worship across Indonesia is often in tribal language and this can foster an unhealthy attitude/understanding about worship. The new hymnal will be in the language everyone knows. Worship with the Buku Ibadah Lutheran will help to foster the understanding that GKLI isn’t a Batak church. The GKLI is a Christian Church in Indonesia and it is open to all the people of Indonesia. This is a huge change of perspective for the GKLI, a difficult change, and a necessary one. Please keep the GKLI in your prayers as there is much work to be done on this hymnal and in this country. Pray for steadfastness, peacefulness, and boldness to be the Gereja Kristen Luther Indonesia.

The rest of the week was spent learning from Dr. Robert Rhein about the historic practices and music of Christian worship. The event ended with a delightful Hymn Festival. We were able to introduce five hymns newly translated into Indonesian and we also sang five hymns which the GKLI pastors and musicians already knew and loved.

I had the wonderful opportunity to lead this group in Matins and Vespers. These services are new for them, but they were willing and eager to learn. For three services, two Matins and one Vespers, I was able to lead and preach. The time was used for teaching and catechesis in Worship. The opening versicles of these services provided a perfect opportunity to preach on the activity of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the worship of the Saints.

“O Lord, open my lips,

and my mouth will declare Your praise.” Psalm 51:15

“Make Haste, O God, to deliver me;

make haste to help me, O Lord” Psalm 70:1

Our God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—is present in worship to open our lips. We can do nothing. We cannot even utter one righteous word without God filling our lives with His righteousness. He gives the saints on earth His righteousness as he calls, gathers, and enlightens his Church on earth. Our God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—is present in worship to give us the right words for praise and prayer. God opens our lips and then He gives us the words to say. Our God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—is present in worship to hear our praise and respond to our prayer. Even as the saints gathered together begin to sing God is hearing and responding to the prayers being offered. He opens lips, He gives those lips the words to say, and He continues to make haste to deliver and help His people.