On May 25, 2019, the cross-straits hymns sinologising exchange conference was held in Hangzhou megachurch Chongyi Church. The Tian Yun Choir and the Harvest Holy Orchestra from Taiwan, and choirs from all over Zhejiang gathered in Hangzhou to jointly offer praise and worship in song.
The sinologising Holy Music Exchange is divided into two sessions, and choirs from Zhejiang Taizhou Wenling Church, Ningbo Cixi Union Choir, Wenzhou Lucheng District Trinity Choirs, Cangnan County Tianyue Choir delivered singing while Taipei Ling Liang Church Harvest Holy Orchestra sang "God's Promise" and "You Belong to Me". The church's music pastor WANG Mei was the conductor and also introduced the background to the composition of the two hymns.
During the singing, there were men and women's solos, a quartet, and a full chorus.
During the conference seminars, XIE Guangzhe, vice president of the Taiwan Tian Yun Choir, began by introducing the Tian Yun Choir. It was founded in 1963 and has served fellow workers from all walks of life. Xie was originally a dentist and some of his church members were drama actors. They have collaborated and see their mission as preaching the gospel, cooperating with churches and hospitals, hoping to become a bridge between society and the church.
The choir has just begun singing Western hymns. In 1980 it began writing it own songs with the intent of through music encouraging young people to cherish life and living it in all its vibrant colors. Presently, they have left their mark across five continents, having served in 30 countries around the world.
During the conference, the choir sometimes invited participants to join in some lively rhythm and also shared the meaning of the songs in the service. Although the choir members feel in debted to their families for being away and do not always find it easy to be punctual for practice, they see their involvement as a priestly offering, bringing their heart to God. Singing in the choir is not a performance, but rather a sacrifice.
Among the members of the choir, the longest serving member has been there for more than 20 years, and the shortest has served for 8 years. One member, LIAO, suffers from cancer yet shows no sadness on her face. She said she did not know how long she could sing but believed that God was still the power in her life.
Some members, who have experienced a great understanding from their families for their serving, still choose to devote their enthusiasm and time to the ministry. By serving, they help each other break through their realities and difficulties, and finding what is the best for themselves.
Wang Mei, the conductor of the Harvest of Taipei Ling Liang Church, is a music pastor at the church and also holds a masters degree in music from Concordia University. She has led the choir to participate in the International Chorus Festival, record CDs, and sing in the National Concert Hall. She gave suggestions to the participating choir from the point of "the expression of the music itself, the presentation of the inner life, and dramatic expression". In addition to the skills of the music itself, each choir member is also radiates light from their faces from the inner life. She also reminded everyone that one should pay attention to facial expression, not only the voice. Expressions and gestures should be part of worship.
In the second session in the evening, Hangzhou Songyi Church Choir and Zhejiang Christian Holy Love Choir each sang.
Pastor Wei Shanxiang, president of the Chinese Christian Cross-Strait Exchange Association of Taiwan, mentioned that the exchanges between Taiwan and mainland churches began in Zhejiang Province. Initially it was between pastors and now between choirs. He mentioned that first, our serving is not due to our ability or feelings, but rather dependant upon the grace of God. Second, serving is spiritual warfare. The choir walks in front of the soldiers to engage in the battle. Finally, serving is about dedication.
The Taipei Harvest Holy Orchestra sang two rewritten hymns, "Wonderful Grace" and "Counting Grace". Reverend Wang Mei explained that Taipei now has many contemporary worship songs but few traditional hymns. This time they have rewritten two traditional hymns.
The Tian Yun Choir sang "The Assurance of Being Blessed", "The Greatest Is Love", and "Clouds in Life", after which the Zhejiang Holy Love Choir, Taipei Ling Liang Church, and Songyi Church Choir collectively sang the Hallelujah chorus.
The next Sunday the Taipei Ling Liang Church Harvest Holy Orchestra went to Hangzhou Sicheng Church to participate in the Sunday praise service, and the Tian Yun Choir took part in Songyi Church's Sunday worship service.
- Translated by Charlie Li