Good Friday: Indodana

LOOK: Olivewood crucifix, South Africa

Olivewood Crucifix (South Africa)
Olivewood crucifix, South Africa, 1978. Source: Christliche Kunst in Afrika, p. 263

LISTEN: “Indodana” (Son), traditional isiXhosa song from South Africa | Arr. Michael Barrett and Ralf Schmitt, adapt. André van der Merwe, 2014 | Performed by the Stellenbosch University Choir, 2014

Ngob’umthatile eh umtwana wakho 
Uhlale nathi, eh hololo helele

Indodana ka Nkulunkulu 
Bayi’bethelela, hololo helele 

Oh Baba! Baba, Baba Yehova! 
Baba, hololo helele
You took your own son
Who lived among us [wailing]

The Son of God
Was crucified [wailing]

Oh Father! Father, Father Jehovah!
Father! [wailing] 


This song so well captures the mood of mourning that characterizes Good Friday, when the Son of God was slain. “Hololo” and “helele” are wordless expressions of grief. So is the “Zjem zjem zja” sung by the basses, like heaving sobs, on the title word in verse 2. One soprano who performed this piece said that singing the “Oh’s” above the melody felt like singing tears.

“Indodana” is on the Art & Theology Holy Week Playlist.

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