Siyahamba

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Singing Siyahamba with the former moderators at the United Reformed Church General Assembly 2007, Manchester

Siyahamba is a South African hymn that became popular in North American churches in the 1990s. The title means "We Are Marching" or "We are Walking" in the Zulu language.

History[edit]

"Siyahamba" originated in South Africa. It is claimed to have been composed c. 1950 by Andries van Tonder, an elder of the Judith Church, [1] but according to SAMRO, these claims are unsubstantiated. In the Southern African Music Rights Organisation SAMRO's records, Siyahamba is in public domain.

In 1978, the Swedish choral group Fjedur toured South Africa at the invitation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of South Africa. It was during this tour that Fjedur's musical director, Anders Nyberg, heard and recorded "Siyahamba" at a girls' school in Appelsbosch, Natal. Subsequently this song has been used around the world by schools in their prayers.

In 1984, Nyberg arranged "Siyahamba" for a four-voice setting and published it in a songbook and recording called Freedom is Coming: Songs of Protest and Praise from South Africa. In 1994, GIA Publications included the song (under the title "We Are Marching in the Light of God") in Gather Comprehensive,[2] a hymnal widely used in American Catholic parishes. A year later, the United Church of Christ included the song, under the same title, in The New Century Hymnal .[3] The Unitarian Universalist Association included the song in its 2005 supplemental hymnbook, Singing the Journey. [4][5]

Today, "Siyahamba" is often performed by children's groups in both sacred and secular environments. Occasionally, the translated lyrics are modified for a secular performance: for example, the English translation "We are marching in the light of God" becomes "We are standing in the light of peace."

Lyrics[edit]

The structure of the song is cyclic, rather than sequential: the lyrics consist of one phrase, repeated with permutations. Hawn[6] notes that cyclical forms tend to emphasize a spirit of community and allow for physical response during the performance. This cyclical form, along with the meaning of the lyrics, may explain the song's popularity as a processional and offertory as well as a protest or marching song.

Afrikaans[edit]

Ons marsjeer nou in die lig van God,

Ons marsjeer nou in die lig van God.

Ons marsjeer nou in die lig van God,

Ons marsjeer nou in die lig van God.
[in die lig van God]

Ons marsjeer nou... ooh
[Ons marsjeer nou, marsjeer nou, ons marsjeer nou, marsjeer nou,]

Ons marsjeer nou in die lig van God.
[in die lig van God]

Ons marsjeer nou... ooh
[Ons marsjeer nou, marsjeer nou, ons marsjeer nou, marsjeer nou,]

Ons marsjeer nou in die lig van God.

(Alternative versions of the lyrics may alternate marsjeer with different verbs such as wandel.)

Zulu (original)[edit]

Siyahamba ekukhanyeni kwenkos',

Siyahamba ekukhanyeni kwenkos'.

Siyahamba ekukhanyeni kwenkos',

Siyahamba ekukhanyeni kwenkos'.

[ekukhanyeni kwenkos']

Siyahamba... ooh

[Siyahamba, hamba, Siyahamba, hamba]

Siyahamba ekukhanyeni kwenkos'.

[ekukhanyeni kwenkos']

Siyahamba... ooh

[Siyahamba, hamba, Siyahamba, hamba]

Siyahamba ekukhanyeni kwenkos'.

Swahili[edit]

Twatembea nuruni mwake,

twatembea nuruni mwake.

Twatembea nuruni mwake,

twatembea nuruni mwake.
[nuruni mwake]

Twatembea... ooh
[Twatembea, tembea, twatembea, tembea,]

Twatembea nuruni mwake.
[nuruni mwake]

Twatembea... ooh
[Twatembea, tembea, twatembea, tembea,]

Twatembea nuruni mwake.

English[edit]

We are marching in the light of God,

We are marching in the light of God.

We are marching in the light of God,

We are marching in the light of God.
[in the light of God]

We are marching... ooh
[We are marching, marching, we are marching, marching,]

We are marching in the light of God.
[the light of God]

We are marching... ooh
[We are marching, walking, we are walking, walking,]

We are marching in the light of God.

(Alternative versions of the lyrics may alternate walking with different verbs such as marching, dancing, singing, living, or praying, holding up, or the word "God" for love in a less religious gathering.)

French[edit]

Nous marchons dans la lumière de Dieu,

Nous marchons dans la lumière de Dieu.

Nous marchons dans la lumière de Dieu,

Nous marchons dans la lumière de Dieu.
[dans la lumière de Dieu]

Nous marchons... ooh
[Nous marchons, marchons, nous marchons, marchons,]

Nous marchons dans la lumière de Dieu.
[dans la lumière de Dieu]

Nous marchons... ooh
[Nous marchons, marchons, nous marchons, marchons,]

Nous marchons dans la lumière de Dieu.

Spanish[edit]

Caminamos en la luz de Dios,

Caminamos en la luz de Dios.

Caminamos en la luz de Dios,

Caminamos en la luz de Dios.
[en la luz de Dios]

Caminando... ooh
[Caminando, vamos caminando, vamos]

Caminando en la luz de Dios.
[en la luz de Dios]

Caminando... ooh
[Caminando, vamos caminando, vamos]

Caminando en la luz de Dios.

Portuguese[edit]

Caminhando com a luz do Senhor,

Caminhando com a luz do Senhor

Caminhando com a luz do Senhor ,

Caminhando com a luz do Senhor.
[com a luz do Senhor]

Caminhando... ooh [Caminhando, eu vou caminhando, eu vou]

Caminhando com a luz do Senhor.
[com a luz do Senhor]

Caminhando... ooh [Caminhando, eu vou caminhando, eu vou]

Caminhando com a luz do Senhor.

Icelandic[edit]

Við göngum í ljósi Guðs

já, við göngum í ljósi Guðs

Við göngum í ljósi Guðs

já, við göngum í ljósi Guðs

Við göngum,

já við göngum

Úww, já, við göngum í ljósi Guðs

Við göngum,

já við göngum

Úww, já, við göngum í ljósi Guðs

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ CPDL, accessed March 5, 2007.
  2. ^ Gather Comprehensive. GIA Publications, 1994.
  3. ^ A New Century Hymnal. Pilgrim Press, 1995.
  4. ^ Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (2005). Singing the Journey: A Supplement to Singing the Living Tradition. Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. p. 1030. ISBN 9781558964990. 
  5. ^ Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. "UUA: Siyahamba". Song Information, Singing the Journey, official website. Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  6. ^ Hawn, C. Michael. "Singing with the Faithful of Every Time and Place: Thoughts on Liturgical Inculturation and Cross-Cultural Liturgy," Yale Institute of Sacred Music, retrieved August 5, 2006.