10/29/2008

Singing in Tongues


You’ve sung “Amazing Grace” before, I know. Written by John Newton way back in 1776, it is the world’s most familiar hymn today—partially because famous singers like Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Joan Baez and many more have recorded it. And mainly because the lyrics have a profound message for those who want to turn their wretched lives around.

You’ve probably heard it sung in many different languages as well.

But have you heard the hymn sung by 14 different nationalities all at the same time? In one room?

I have.

There were 14 countries represented in the recent conference which I attended. Although most of us spoke English, we were encouraged to lead prayers in our own language. And so when we sang “Amazing Grace” we did so in our own tongue.

Awe inspiring.


Imagine a 45-voice choir singing a tune so familiar, but in accents so disparate and strange. Yet you feel as though the words are coming from your own mind; your own voice is praying aloud, and your own soul is connecting to the same Source of divine grace.

Based on 1 Chronicles 17:16-17, the lyrics are a prayer of King David in which he marvels at God's choosing him and his house.

Then the same lyrics in the same tune are a prayer over 3,000 years later in a function room occupied by about 45 people somewhere in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The experience taught me that       many different languages we may have, but when we speak to the One who made races, tribes, nations, and people different from each other, He hears only one language—that which is spoken by our heart.

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