In her own words, singer-songwriter Joyce Tan shares the valley experience that led to the penning of one of the songs on City Harvest Dialect Church’s new praise and worship album, Xian Shang.
Our new Dialect Church album Xian Shang: Xian Shang Shen Ming, Xian Shang Gei Shen (Dedicate: Dedicated Lives, Dedicated God) is finally launched! First of all, I must say that I’m very proud of it not just because it’s our very first one launched for sale to the public, but also because we were very blessed to have the most talented, passionate and committed bunch of people working on it—some of whom do not even understand a single word of Hokkien or Cantonese!
This is also the first time we’ve put together a collection of original praise and worship songs written by the DC worship team. It was a nerve-wracking first time for many of the singers and musicians to be in a recording studio.
The album, which we began conceptualizing as early as 2011, consists of seven contemporary praise and worship songs written and sung in Cantonese and Hokkien. We had a lot of fun making this album as we were able to creatively explore musical elements that we weren’t able to do in a live praise and worship setting. So, you can expect to be surprised by a revamped version of an old worship song, “Shen Ming Zong De Bao” (“Treasure Of Life” as well as jive to the funky retro beats of our bonus praise song “Ye He Hua Yi Li” (“Jehovah Jireh”).
Besides these two upbeat songs, the album consists of five worship songs, one of which is a Hokkien song “Wo De Quan Bu” (“My All”) that I wrote. It was written during one of the darkest periods in my life, a season so painful that I struggled hard to come before God in worship because I didn’t know what to say to Him.
I still remember vividly the first song that I sang after my “cold war” with God, when I worshipped in my prayer closet. The first line was “Cong lai mei you huai yi guo dao di ni you duo me ai wo” (“I’ve never doubted in my heart how much You love me”).
That line took a lot out of me to sing, but only when the words came out of my mouth did the healing begin to flow. I realized that sometimes, God does not give you an answer for the “why me?” questions, but He chooses to stick by you quietly and rebuild your broken life bit by bit with gentle hands.
I began to see the blessings He has purposefully planted along the way to egg me forward one baby step at a time, until I walked out of the darkness. Through the storm, I saw for myself in a real way the many aspects of God’s unfailing character that I’ve only read about in the Bible before. These are the reflections of my heart which I wrote in the song:
“You are my hope
You are my life
You are the song in my heart
You are my help in times of trouble
You watch over me in my journey of faith
You are my joy
You are my strength
My footsteps are guided by Your presence
You bring me blessings in the midst of storm
I’m forever grateful to you,”
A little about my song-writing experience—I must confess that I find writing songs in dialect a linguistic challenge, but worshiping God in dialect strikes a special chord with my heart. It evokes a “back to the roots” feeling as I come before God in raw and unabashed worship, just the way I am.
It’s a feeling that I seek but find hard at times to capture in words. But when the right words come, I’m able to pour my entire being into this one heart cry toward God, and that in itself brings about a powerful and intimate worship experience that I do not find when I worship in other languages.
It is this very worship experience that we wish to bring to the listeners in Xian Shang, because more than musical enjoyment, it is also our prayer that that this album will bless your heart profoundly in the most unexpected way.
Xian Shang: Xian Shang Shen Ming, Xian Shang Gei Shen (Dedicate: Dedicated Lives, Dedicated God) is available from The Ink Room at S$13.90.