The Legacy of Patrick Matsikenyiri and The United Methodist Church
By Diana Sanchez-Bushong
Patrick Matsikenyiri, the passionate and joyful song leader, hymnwriter, and teacher, died suddenly on January 15, 2021. Dr. Matsikenyiri was known around the world for his song leading and teaching on African music for the World Council of Churches, The General Board of Global Ministries, Africa University, and various ecumenical organizations. He was well-known in United Methodist circles, having worked with students at various seminaries, and having led music at gatherings of The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts and working to establish the United Methodist Africa University Choir, who sang at various conferences in Africa and in the United States.
Among the hymns Matsikenyiri is known for are “Tino Tenda, Jesu (Thank You, Jesus), 2081 in The Faith We Sing; “Jesu Tawa Pano” (“Jesus We Are Here”), 2273 in The Faith We Sing; and “Hakuna Wakaita sa Jesu” (“There’s No One in This World Like Jesus”), 3036 in Worship & Song. He was also known for teaching the Nigerian song in Yoruba, “Wa Wa Wa Emimimo” (“Come, O Holy Spirit, Come”), 2124 in The Faith We Sing, which has become well known in many sacred singing circles. “Wa Wa Wa Emimimo” was one of Dr. Matsikenyiri’s favorite songs to teach, and he did so with outstretched arms lifted heavenward, beckoning the Holy Spirit to come down.
He leaves a rich legacy of African songs, paired with his example of passionate song leading that inspires church musicians to enliven their worship with songs that engage body, mind, and soul. He will be sorely missed by all who loved him. He had a way of making every person he met feel worthy, loved, and called to a greater purpose.
Attached here is an obituary prepared by friend and colleague C. Michael Hawn, professor emeritus of church music at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.