Article

History of Hymns: “Jesu, Tawa Pano” and “Already Here”

by Cynthia Wilson

Jesu, Tawa Pano (Shona)                               
By Patrick Matsikenyiri
The Faith We Sing, 2273

 

Jesu, tawa pano;
Jesu, tawa pano;
Jesu, tawa pano;
tawa pano, mu zita renyu. (Bass: Mambo Jesu!)

Jesus, we are here;
Jesus, we are here;
Jesus, we are here;
We are here for you. (Bass: Welcome Jesus!)*

©1990, 1996 General Board of Global Ministries, GBGMusik

Liturgical Topics: Gathering, Call to Worship, Communion,
Biblical Themes: Psalm 11:4a, Malachi 3:1-4, Matthew 1:22-23

 

“Already Here”                                                                                             
By Brian Courtney Wilson
Zion Still Sings, 55

 

Group 1

We watch and to wait Lord we anticipate! the moment, You choose to appear
We worship we praise until there's no debate, and we recognize You already here
You already here,
You already here.

Group 2
Alleluya, Alleluya, Alleluya.

Options: Soloist(s), Sopranos
You're here!
The balm for my (our) wounded soul(s).
You're here!
Because you choose to make us whole.

Liturgical Topics: Advent, Lent, Gathering, Call to Worship
Biblical Themes: Psalm 11:4a, Malachi 3:1-4, Matthew 1:22-23

 

At the turn of the century, The United Methodist Church recognized the need for additional worship resources to serve as supplements to the denomination’s existing hymnal. Through the collaborative efforts of The United Methodist Publishing House and The General Board of Discipleship (Discipleship Ministries), two new resources were created to offer a more diverse collection of hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs to represent the glocal ethos of United Methodism: The Faith We Sing (2000) and Zion Still Sings (2007). (NOTE: The term “glocal,” which combines “global” and “local,” suggests that one’s indigenous or inside context is fundamentally affected by an external universal. This term strongly insinuates that without local culture, the global agenda would be aborted.) While both collections preserve the rich legacy of corporate song, they also stand as a continuation of an ever-expanding sacred music canon.

As we approach the beginning of the liturgical year— the holy season of Advent— the suggestion to combine these two prayers serves as an effort to underscore offerings from our global family, to celebrate the musical gifts of our millenials, and to inspire worship leaders to introduce corporate communities to music beyond “the temple of their own familiar” (“Temple of My Familiar”).

The first prayer, Jesu, Tawa Pano, is composed by Mr. Patrick Matsikenyiri (b. 1937), a native of Zimbabwe and a renowned composer, conductor, lecturer, and enlivener of song throughout the world. Mr. Matsikenyiri served as the first choral conductor for Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe. In 1996, he established the four-year music education major at the university.  

Mr. Matsikenyiri has been a contributor to the hymnal, Ngoma: dze United Methodist Church Ye Zimbabwe (1964, 1995), three volumes of Global Praise, and the compilation of Africa Praise Songbook: Songs from Africa (GBGM, 1998). He was honored as a Fellow of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada in 2018, the first African to receive this distinction.

 “Jesu, Tawa Pano” is one of the most popular songs in the church in Zimbabwe, and it is typically sung during gatherings, processionals, or Communion. It is important to note that more often than not, the people of Zimbabwe travel by foot. The distance to Sunday worship can be thirty to fifty miles or more. So, one might translate the phrase “we are here!” to read, “Once again, we made it! And we’ve come to be with you Jesus!” In other contexts, “Jesu, Tawa Pano” is most effective when prayed by the congregation in both Shona and English. The text and tune might be introduced by a solo voice or children’s choir (a capella) followed by a simple gesture inviting the community to join in. Additional verses acknowledge other images for Jesus Christ as well as the Trinitarian character of God in African culture; for example, “Savior, we are here! Master, we are here! Spirit, we are here! God of love, we are here!” Worship leaders should feel free to use other phrases as appropriate. For more information on Patrick Matsikenyiri, see https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-zimbabwean-song-calls-congregation-to-worship.

The second prayer, “Already Here!” can be found in the hymnal supplement, Zion Still Sings! For Every Generation (55). Brian C. Wilson has become a household name in contemporary gospel music across denominational and cultural lines. Mr. Wilson is a native of Maywood, Illinois, where he sang with his father in the male chorus at Rock of Ages Baptist Church. Brian Courtney Wilson is a liberal arts and sciences graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign. He is a Dove Award nominee, an accolade bestowed on by the Gospel Music Association (GMA) of the US, and a Grammy Award-winning composer/vocalist.

After graduating from college, Mr. Wilson moved to Houston, Texas, and attended the Windsor Village United Methodist Church, where he accepted Christ and was inspired to write songs that functioned as service music during worship. It was at St. Johns United Methodist Church, a burgeoning faith community born out of Windsor Village ministries, that Mr. Wilson was introduced to Mathew Knowles, father of Beyoncé Knowles, by one of the lead pastors, Rev. Rudy Rasmus. (The Knowles family are active members of St. Johns.) When Mr. Knowles, the owner of record label Spirit Rising/Music World, heard Wilson’s “Already Here!,” he immediately signed Mr. Wilson to his label. The song rapidly moved to the top of Billboard Music Charts in 2016, and it continues to hold the distinction of one of the top songs in the gospel and urban music categories. The song can be heard on Wilson’s 2009 CD project Just Love, released on the Music World label.

This prayer of anticipation and assurance is the consummate example of how Christians understand the juxtaposition of God “who is” and God “who is to come” (Rev. 4:8b).

As covenant disciples of Christ, We watch and we wait, Lord, we anticipate…..and [yet] we recognize you’re already here. We acknowledge “Emmanuel, God with us!” as the fulfillment of God’s promise to us, “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, whom God has called out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9, NRSV).

This passage is especially significant for the peoples of South Africa as they continue to “find their feet” the primary means of transport to the feet of our Triune God, the Jesus of justice, the Holy Spirit/Paraclete, the God of wounded souls!

Performance Notes:

There are several ways to experience this medley as corporate prayer. It is important to lead by doing versus talking. Musicians, soloist(s), and choir(s) should prepare in advance of the corporate worship experience. Music notes about composers and contexts as well as rubrics on the screen, in the order of worship, or even explanation before, during, or after the gathering can be helpful roadmaps.

Jesu, Tawa Pano (E major) lends itself to a more strophic form with close harmonies. This prayer should not be rushed, even as it is sung by the corporate community. The melody is accessible and can be announced by a solo voice in metered or unmetered style, or by children’s voices with metered tempo. Either way, space must be allowed for soloist(s) to freely improvise over and above the voice of the congregation. The final verse can modulate one half step (F major) in preparation for the transition to “Already Here!” (F major). A congregational song leader can introduce the Group 1 melody in the new key (measures 1-16), again followed by a simple gesture inviting the community to echo the same.

Options:

The congregation continues to sing Group 1 melody, while the choir sings Group 2 melody.

Choir and congregation continue to sing Group 1 melody, while a trio sings Group 2 melody.

Soloist or Sopranos sing:

You’re here! The balm for my (our) weary soul(s).
You’re here! Because you choose to make us whole.
(repeat as directed)

 

 

For Additional Reading

“Jesu, Tawa Pano,” Hymnary.org, https://hymnary.org/hymn/LUYH2013/520

"The Temple of My Familiar - Social Concerns," Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction,  edited by Kirk H. Beetz, vol. 7. Gale Cengage, 2001, eNotes.com ,30 Aug 2018. 

 


 

Cynthia Wilson is associate general secretary for Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church.

Categories: History of Hymns, Hymnals By Name, The Faith We Sing, Zion Still Sings!