Lent, Day 30

Elabena ale gbegbe Mawu lo xexeame bena woatso yeto hena Tenuvi bena amesiame si xoa sena la, mele tsotso ge o, ke bon woakpo agbe mavo.

Yohanes 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

—John 3:16 NRSV

LOOK: Untitled (1985) by Keith Haring

Haring, Keith_Untitled
Keith Haring (American, 1958–1990), Untitled, 1985. Acrylic on canvas, 90 × 236 in. (228.6 × 599.4 cm). Private collection. © Keith Haring Foundation

Keith Haring was an American pop artist who died of AIDS at age thirty-one. I featured him on the blog last year, particularly his connection to the Jesus People movement.

LISTEN: “Alegbegbe” (For God So Loved the World) by Ephraim Amu, 1958 | Text: John 3:16 in Ewe | Performed by the Harmonious Chorale Ghana and the Ghana National Symphony Orchestra, 2019

“Alegbegbe Mawu Lɔ̃ Xexeame” (or “Alegbegbe” for short) is a choral setting of the scriptural passage John 3:16 composed by Dr. Ephraim Amu, one of the leading composers of Ghanaian art music. As do many of his works from the 1950s onward, this composition uses a technique called counterpoint—that is, the sounding of independent melodies simultaneously in different vocal lines, which are nevertheless integrated into a single harmonic texture. The words are in the Ewe language (pronounced ā-wā, with long a’s as in way), spoken in the Volta region of Ghana as well as in southwestern Togo and parts of Benin.

I’ve chosen a recent performance that was captured on video, but for an audio-only performance by the West Volta Presbytery Church Choir, conducted by Amu’s daughter, Misonu Amu, click here.

Dr. Paul Neeley of Global Christian Worship writes, “Dr. Ephraim Kɔku Amu (1899–1995) was a Ghanaian composer, musicologist, and teacher. He was a pioneer in contextualizing life and Christian faith in the African context, starting in the 1920s. He was not afraid to rock the boat of cultural and church norms of the time. He composed hundreds of songs, many of them choral songs in the major languages of Ewe and Twi, and some are still popular today.”

I found a multitude of articles about Amu on JSTOR—most of them quite technical—and I hope to explore his corpus more fully in the future.

Advent, Day 21

LOOK: gloria by Corita Kent

Kent, Corita_gloria
Corita Kent (American, 1918–1986), gloria, 1960. Serigraph.

From the Corita Art Center:

Corita Kent (1918–1986) was an artist, educator, and advocate for social justice. At age 18 she entered the religious order Immaculate Heart of Mary, eventually teaching in and then heading up the art department at Immaculate Heart College. Her work evolved from figurative and religious to incorporating advertising images and slogans, popular song lyrics, biblical verses, and literature. Throughout the ’60s, her work became increasingly political, urging viewers to consider poverty, racism, and injustice. In 1968 she left the order and moved to Boston. After 1970, her work evolved into a sparser, introspective style, influenced by living in a new environment, a secular life, and her battles with cancer. She remained active in social causes until her death in 1986. At the time of her death, she had created almost 800 serigraph editions, thousands of watercolors, and innumerable public and private commissions.

LISTEN: “God in Flesh, Our Hope Divine” by The Brilliance (David Gungor and John Arndt), on Advent, vol. 2 (2012; reissued 2021)

God of heaven, Lord of earth
We beseech thee
Born of Mary, virgin birth
Lord, we greet thee
God in flesh, our hope divine
Babe of heaven, God’s own son

Star of David, Son of Man
God be with us
Suff’ring servant, wounded lamb
Bring peace to us
Broken flesh, our hope divine
Lifted up for all mankind

Gloria, gloria, gloria in excelsis Deo! (×2)

Root of Jesse which shall stand
Lord, we need thee
Banner o’er the nations
We receive thee
Glorious resting place for all
Jew and Gentile, welcome home

Gloria, gloria, gloria in excelsis Deo! (×2)

“Come, Lord Jesus,” people sing
We are yearning
Give us back the garden
We are longing
On that day we’ll see thy face
This whole realm in your embrace

Gloria, gloria, gloria in excelsis Deo! (×6)