Saturday, 15 June 2013

Tigak Hymn Books

When George Brown came to New Ireland with a team of Fijian Methodist missionaries in 1875, he brought with him the Methodist Hymn Book. It was first translated into one local language, but has since found its way into many more. So it was that we found ourselves with two days to help Miskum and the Tigak translation team to edit and format the hymn book in their language… or at least the 209 songs they have translated so far. There are 235 more that they’d also like to turn to Tigak.

The Tiang version of the Hymn Book
As we edited and formatted we regularly referred to the original Kuanua Hymn Book. Miskum had been singing from it for many years and the pages were soft and fabric-like from all the years of page turning. Filed among the pages were receipts, bulletins, sermon notes and Bible quotes. It was clearly a well loved book.
Many Tigak had been involved in translating songs for their hymn book. Many different people had assisted them with entering these hand written songs into the computer and with updating it as more songs were completed and corrections came to light. With a shortage of our staff available to assist with this project, people had helped where they were able, just as we were coming in late in the project to give a few days of help.

I do not know if any computer program is designed for formatting hymn books, but certainly none of them are designed for coping with multiple stages and the efforts of multiple contributors. We found ourselves fighting the computers and resisting swearing when they mysteriously undid or auto-corrupted our carefully laid plans. In the end though, we had a pdf and could print off a final draft.

A few more corrections to enter...
We printed and roughly bound the hymn book at the end of our second day. On giving it to the patiently waiting Miskum he was clearly touched by holding this final draft, complete and almost looking like a real book. He took it away and showed it to people he met in town. He found us the next day with a few more corrections and a week later found us again to request a change of picture for the cover. Clearly he was sharing it with people, getting feedback and receiving much interest.
 Now it is someone else’s job to organise the printing, but it was a privilege to help the Tigak team get to this stage. As we worked our way through the book we recognised the English names of many tunes for they were part of our traditions too. Although sometimes we muttered at the computers, more often we were found humming hymns, as familiar names came up on the screen. I take joy in knowing that so many languages around the world can sing in their own heart language ‘How Great Thou Art,’ and mean it.

1 comment:

  1. Hanna, what a great update! I suspect it won't be long before Miskum--and many others--will have new hymnbooks for praising our Creator, and one day those books will also have soft, fabric-like pages... :)