It has been a challenge and a joy for me to submit hymns that have tried to reflect the theme of this year's column: the meeting place. In this final offering, I want to share two hymns that highlight this theme. Sharing heart-songs of various communities of believers helps us gain a clearer vision of ourselves as part of the worldwide Christian community. Opportunities to experience different expressions of the Divine enrich us and help us reflect and embody the love of God for all people. The two songs presented here reflect our different voices calling out to the Creator. They are also part of a collaborative effort to be included in a new hymnal that is, at its core, a sacred meeting place.
"Ate Wakantanka hoye wayelo" is a Lakota "thank you" song given by elders of one of the tribes of the First Nation Peoples to this collective endeavor.1
Ate, Wakantanka hoye wayelo, he.
Ate, Wakantanka, onsimala ye yo.
Oy ate oyasin zanni ce cinpalo,
Heya hoye wayelo, he.
The English interpretation of this Lakota prayer is:
Father, God, we are sending our prayers to you.
Father, God, show us your mercy.
All the people want to be healthy;
we are crying out to you for that.
Though this song is still in review and preparation for authentic note set presentation, there was some concern regarding the role of the drum. When asked if congregations will, with integrity, be able to accompany this song with drum, Elder Johnny Pearson, a Lakota holy man, replied:
The answer to your question depends on whom you are asking. I am sure there are some . . . that would say "no." They also would likely say no one has any business singing this sacred song other than a Lakota holy man. However, I think the majority of those with native blood would feel honored that the church would care enough to share this song with all peoples. More importandy, I believe Ate Wakantanka (our Heavenly Father) is pleased anytime anyone sings this sacred song in his praise and glory.
The drum is a musical instrument and is only "Sacred Medicine" in the Indian way when it is prepared with herbs such as tobacco, smudging, and prayer. The drum is not worshiped by the Indians, it is respected.
I believe any congregation that might sing Ate Wakantanka accompanied with percussion or other musical instruments would be honoring our Heavenly Father by doing so and there is a good possibility that some would experience the presence of the Holy Spirit in a wonderful way.
"Ate Wakantanka" is sung four times during the prayer round of the Inipi ceremony and as a Sundance prayer song. It is now given to all to sing in prayer and thanksgiving as we "send a voice" to God.
When the particular language and length of song proved too difficult to learn properly and therefore might diminish the experience of congregational worship, we have, in limited cases, translated the text into English and then adapted it for the primary consumer of the book. …