A hundred years ago, British missionaries Samuel Pollard and D.J. Adams crossed the ocean to the desolate and barren land of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau along the southwestern border of China, spreading God's love to the poorest and most backward Miao minority in this region. They were dedicated to Miao, Yi and other ethnic education, the opening of hospitals, and China's modern history for several cultures including education and sports.
Samuel Pollard and others not only created Miao characters, trained several Miao doctors, established Christian churches, but also brought in multi-part singing and introduced world famous choral works such as the Hallelujah Chorus. In the past 100 years, the Miao church has passed down the Christian faith from generation to generation, and also formed a unique, multi-part Miao choir. Church music and choral singing have become the most outstanding and precious intangible cultural heritage of the Miao people.
The Bajiaojing Church is located in an alpine region three kilometers above sea level 70 kilometers from Lufeng County in Yunnan Province. In 1984, after Christianity resumed its ministry, the church's choir became active.
In 2002, after graduating from Yunnan Seminary, Long Xinrong, a student of the sacred music teacher, Du Peiliang, returned to his hometown church to serve, and formally established the choir in the Miao church. Two years later, he combined the two churches twenty kilometers away into one choir for joint worship.
After the training by Brother Long Xinrong, the level of the choir is now the highest among the dozens of Miao churches in the county. It has often participated in the celebrations and choral activities of the whole county and the whole area (Yi Autonomous Prefecture of Chuxiong), and has been well received.
At present, the choir has a fixed membership of more than 60 people. Whenever it practices, most of the members have to walk for ten or twenty kilometers on mountain roads to gather together.
The main accompanying instrument for the choir is an accordion and sometimes an electric piano for additional training. Amongst the choir's four-part voices, the number of males is slightly less than that of females, and the number of sopranos is slightly larger than that of the altos. Because the choir members in general only a primary level of education, their Chinese expression ability is relatively not high. Therefore, when singing Chinese songs, it is necessary to learn Chinese one by one.
Singing is the best gift from the Miao brothers and sisters of the impoverished mountainous areas of Yunnan. With the purpose of "praising Christ and witnessing harmony", the choir of the Bajiaojing Miao Church participated in the 6th World Choir Games held in Shaoxing, Zhejiang in 2010.
- Translated by Heirs Han