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To Mark the 27th Anniv. of Bishop Shen Yifan's Death

To Mark the 27th Anniv. of Bishop Shen Yifan's Death

Bishop Shen Yifan Bishop Shen Yifan
ByCCD contributor: Sun Zhipeng August 05, 2020
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It has been nearly 27 years since Bishop Shen Yifan was called to heaven. Every time I think about this, I feel sorrow and even cry. His amiable voice and face often appear before my eyes, and his teachings often echo in my ears.

His poems "The Eternal Song of Christ" and "Pray for The Lord to Help Me" are among the most popular new hymns frequently sung by our church members. At a time when the church is short of talent, such a versatile man as Bishop Shen is rare. Regrettably, when the church was in need of him, he passed away prematurely.

My contact with Bishop Shen began in 1987. When I started to compile the books Introduction to The Chinese New Hymnal and Brief Interpretation of The Chinese New Hymnal, I gave my first draft to several members of the Hymnal Committee at that time, including Bishop Shen. Despite his busy schedule, he reviewed the first draft and sent me a warm letter encouraging me to keep writing. He also said to me: “Thank you for spending a lot of time and energy over the past few years to collect and compile all the information of ‘Hymns (The Chinese New Hymnal)’, as well as a brief interpretation of the words and phrases, which is an important contribution to the Church in China”.

I was flattered, passionately completed the first draft of the two books, and then  revised the drafts five times before they were finished. The great thing is that my book Introduction to The Chinese New Hymnal was partly adopted by Bishop Wang Shenyin in his book History of The Chinese New Hymnal. My book on the interpretation of The Chinese New Hymnal  has been published by the China Christian Holy Music Committee.

On July 28 and 29, 1992, when I attended the first meeting of the new Sacred Music Committee held in Shanghai, I had the honor to meet Bishop Shen. His humble and approachable manner was something that I could learn from for the rest of my life. He cast a look of trust and approval, and deliberately stopped in front of me, holding my hand tightly. He once again thanked me for the contribution I made to "The Hymns (The Chinese New Hymnal)" and said that it was not easy for me to work hard these years in collecting and sorting out all the materials of the "The Hymns (The Chinese New Hymnal)".

Bishop Shen was a good steward of God's church. His death made me feel sad, but he inspired me to serve God better, love the Lord and others.

Note: Bishop Shen Yifan (1928.3.1-1994.8.7) was born on March 1, 1928 in Wujiang, Jiangsu province in a family of three generations of devout Christians. His father, Bishop Shen Zigao (1895-1982), had studied in the United Kingdom and received a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Theology, and Doctor of Theology from Shanghai St. John’s University. In 1982, he was invited to serve as a consultant to the Chinese Christian Hymns Committee, and he made many good suggestions on promoting the nationalization of Chinese hymns.

- Translated by Sophia Chen

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