This is my pet topic and has been for most of my life - how to energise Christian church worship with appropriate, relevant, exciting music and it has been an uphill battle. One evening -in Geelong - I joked to an elderly lady - 'They should put a bomb under the pipe organ' and a horrified look crossed her face! I will write more about music in Geelong in our other blog geelong-visual-diary.
Okay I'm not going to give you a thesis about Fijian church music - though I've written papers on it, but the subject has risen again at the Methodist Conference in Bau. It's because traditional four-part harmony, unaccompanied, has been the norm since the 1890s, though earlier the same (psalm/story/lament/Christian narrative) and taro (questions and answers) were in the vucu style of chant.
In the Fiji Times today:
Church to look at role of musicJONA BOLA
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
A Methodist research group will be established to research the use of musical instruments in the Bible and it's relevance to the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma. The decision was made after questions were raised on whether there was a need for the church to use musical instruments during church services at the annual Methodist Church conference in the chiefly island of Bau.
A delegate at the meeting said youths were being greatly influenced to use musical instruments during worship and that the issue should be looked at from all perspectives.
Delegates had contradicting ideas about the issue….etc.
The subject can be volatile because older people may not like noisy bands, and young people often do. Some of the American-style of churches in Fiji are attracting many people with their energy, musical styles, etc.
Of course the Methodist Church in Fiji is not just ethnic Fijians and in the Indian Division musical instruments are used - e.g. organ/piano, guitar, etc. as well as the harmonium, dhola, tabla, and other Indian percussion instruments. Here is a picture of a Fijian young man singing qawali style with a group of youth in Labasa a few years ago. I would like to see the day when more Fijians sing bhajan and qawali style of music.