Three stories from the field

Story from ICF Apeldoorn

Making music interculturally: a wonderful challenge

 One congregation in which intercultural worship has had a prominent place for a few years already, is ICF Apeldoorn. Arie Maasland explains. He is the church’s evangelist/pastor and also plays and sings in one of the music groups.

 ‘An important motivation to be more involved in intercultural music, was a summer camp in 2013; there we were together with a number of intercultural churches.

A music band there, Resonance from France, had a lot of experience in making intercultural music. They trained us and taught us several new songs, for instance an Arabic/Dutch song and a Lingala/Dutch song.

After that summer we started singing those songs in ICF. In addition to that, we also translated songs from other cultures ourselves and put them on paper.

Those new songs met with an enthused welcome, people thought it was wonderful to worship God this new way. Especially people from those particular cultural backgrounds were touched, and still are.

They really do offer a new dimension in worship. God’s majesty is sung in an extra colorful way.

Intercultural worship also is a great aspect of being an intercultural church. By singing in languages such as Arabic, Farsi, Portuguese and Lingala, you show that you really do value other cultures and want to give them a lot of space.

Added factor is that musically it also is fun and enriching. You get acquainted with new rhythms and melody lines; that is enriching.

This brings me to one of the challenges in making music interculturally: to truly perform music in the correct style is quite a challenge, and for people who do not come from that particular culture, it may be just too difficult.

At ICF Apeldoorn therefore, we accept that performing non-western songs in our case easily gets a western flavor. This does not in any way dampen the enthusiasm for this music.
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Story from ICF Veenendaal

Did you know that … the Spirit sings!!??

It is such a privilege to serve God’s intercultural church in leading the worship! I recently wrote in my journal: This is what gives me so much joy, this is what I want to always keep on doing, until my voice croaks! And then, as a wise, old lady, I would like to prophesy (but let’s not get ahead of ourselves)!

It is wonderful to be able to serve people. To see that people truly get in the spirit of worship when hearing their mother’s tongue, the sounds of their hearts! To come before the throne of God together and experience heaven on earth.


Back to reality now, the preparations of such a service are a lot more down to earth! A lot of organizational work needs to be done: selecting the songs, putting them in the right key, sending messages back and forth between singers and musicians to the complete team, planning a time for practice, phonetically memorizing the texts … and in between all this noise, to become quiet and hear God’s voice.

The website of Songs2Serve is a great help for me! It helps me to get a quick overview of songs which were translated from the original language into Dutch. There is a YouTube version which can be listened to, and the songs are published in chords as well as musical notations; they can easily be printed.

In summary: for those who have not discovered this site yet, it is worth it, highly recommended!

I got the nicest compliment a few weeks back. An Iranian woman, who was attending for the first time, said to Hans: “Your wife speaks so many languages, great!” And I really am not a natural linguist, on the contrary, I am pretty dyslecix, eh… I mean, dyslexic L.

This goes to show: the Spirit sings in all languages and He makes us understand each other! (Which is a quote from a Dutch worship song not translated in English… J)

Much blessing in your beautiful work, and warm greetings from Carolien Euser
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Story of ICU Gouda

Our church contains a large group of people from Asia. Basically what we do is sharing our lives together, and we tremendously enjoy doing so. Our music mostly consists of songs that people themselves suggested. So for a long time we sung a lot of a capella or just simply with a guitar. We thought it was more important that people really owned their music than that we made the music and taught them all kinds of Dutch songs.
Young musicians came, and people from a variety of cultures joined us, which ‘professionalized’ our music, but the same principle remains. We still sing in the languages and music styles of the people that are there: Chinese, Arabic, Farsi, Dutch, Birmese, German … It takes some getting used to sometimes, but we enjoy the great cultural diversity in which you can sing for God!
We love celebrating and then we eat together and learn different cultural dances. In brief: our meetings truly are intercultural happenings, and we cherish that!! Do visit us sometime! Welcome!

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