New songs for China: The contextualization of Chinese hymnody between the global and the local, Christian congregational music: Local and global perspectives

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


This paper will investigate the contextualization of Chinese hymns in order to discern the relationship between hymns and the development of the church in modern China. We will consider the development of Chinese hymns in the 1930s and compare them to those of the 1980s and 1990s. Christian music is reinvented in the process of contextualization and illustrates what a contextualized Christianity in a given place should sound like. Among the hymn writes to be discussed are: T. C. Chao, the well-known Chinese theologian; Bliss Wiant, an American missionary as well as a musician; Wang Weifan, a famous theologian in contemporary China; and Ma Geshun, the composer and conductor of Shanghai Conservatory of Music. Hymn exposes musically what the church believes and how it lives. Contextualized hymns in China are an expression of the Incarnation, the Word become flesh, the flesh become song. The development of the contextualization of hymns illustrates the significant transition from ‘Christianity in China’to ‘Chinese Christianity’, which offers a new approach to the study of Christianity in China and provides a perspective on the contextualization of a ‘foreign religion’from the perspective of music. It is hoped that by looking at contextualized hymns in China, this paper will also help us better understand the development of a new hymnody in other parts of the world.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventChristian Congregational Music: Local and Global Perspectives - Ripon College, Cuddesdon, England, United Kingdom
Duration: 04 Aug 201507 Aug 2015 (Conference details) (Conference website)


ConferenceChristian Congregational Music
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityCuddesdon, England
OtherCongregational music-making is a vital and vibrant practice within Christian communities worldwide. It reflects, informs, and articulates convictions and concerns that are irreducibly local even as it flows along global networks. Congregational song can unify communities of faith across geographical and cultural boundaries; however, it can also be used to mark divisions between Christians of different denominations, cultural backgrounds, and social classes, and to negotiate or articulate difference in relation to religious outsiders. We therefore cannot understand the meanings, uses, and influences of congregational music within Christianity without exploring both its local contexts and its translocal, transnational, and global circulation.
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