CityWorship talks about its landmark music collaboration with Fukuoka Harvest Church and what it takes to record a foreign language album in mere days.
In late June of 2012, Katsutoshi Kido found himself in deep intercession for City Harvest Church and its senior pastor Kong Hee while on a prayer walk. News of the arrest of six CHC leaders had just broken, and like many, he was in a state of confusion.
He was reminded of Psalms 103:1-3, and in the midst of the turmoil he felt, the chorus lyrics and melody came to him, as clear as day. He quickly wrote it down; it was the first time he had written a song.
“Even though we may be in the wilderness now, when we look back, we’ll find that there is always protection, grace and provision, so we can trust in God for our future, and keep working for the harvest,” says the 30-year-old vocal trainer about the message behind the song.
Today, the song, “Tataeyo,” (“Praise You”) will appear on Miracle, the first ever album collaboration between CHC and Fukuoka Harvest Church. The album contains eight praise and worship numbers, which include CHC’s own “Miracle” and “Till The End Of Time”—in Japanese.
The collaboration is the brainchild of Kong, who travelled to Japan with his wife and co-founder Sun Ho early this year in January to minister to the churches in Fukuoka and Osaka. CHC has two affiliate churches in Japan, namely Fukuoka Harvest Church and Kumamoto Harvest Church.
Spurred by the deep connection he felt to these churches, Kong determined to provide more assistance and support to the Christian community in Japan. Out of this, a leadership conference to empower local church leaders for revival, similar to what was held in Singapore from Mar 22 to 23, is slated for end March. City News understands that the album will be distributed to participants at this conference.
At once, CHC’s in-house Japanese interpreter Naomi Lee and her team of translators embarked on a month-long process of translating the songs. “Apparently, one word in English takes multiple words in Japanese to effectively interpret!” says Mark Kwan, CityWorship’s creative director and one of the five CHC singers involved in the project.
The team from Fukuoka Harvest Church comprises four guest singers including Kido, all of whom are alumni from CHC’s School of Theology. They represent a pivotal second generation of young Japanese Christians who will hopefully bring forth revival in a nation with a Christian population of just 1 percent. “Since young, I have carried two words in my heart, ‘worship’ and ‘world.’ When I heard about this project, I felt as though these words and the vision they carry are coming true in my life,” says 29-year-old Hayato Nagata, a primary school teacher who serves as a cell group and worship leader at church.
Once the Japanese team landed, recording kicked off over an intensive three days. “Our ‘sensei’ Naomi was extremely long-suffering with us as we giggled and stumbled our way through the very unfamiliar sounding syllables of the Japanese language,” recalls Kwan.
“Thankfully, singing it is way easier than speaking it; we sing each syllable according to the melody of the song versus having to speak it with the correct inflections. So we just had to scribble out the songs in the way we each interpreted them. For instance, the syllable ‘to’ in Japanese would be ‘tow’ to one of us, and ‘toe’ to another. When we were done, we each had lyrics filled with messy scribbles that only we ourselves could decipher!”
Commenting on the collaboration, Kwan says, “Being SOT graduates, they all consider themselves sons and daughters of this house too. So there was a very smooth synergy in spite of the language barrier, and we had a great time fellowshipping with one another! They love our Singaporean hawker fare and they know we love their Japanese snacks, so they came bearing bundles of yummy goodness for us!”
“On a personal note, I feel really privileged to be a part of this project. I have read that learning a new language exercises my mind, but I’ve come to learn that worshipping in a new language exercises my heart!”
Kwan adds, “There’s just something really special about worshipping with our own compositions in another language. I believe it’s because it represents the heart of our church and of our pastors—to bring the Word of God beyond the four walls of our local church in Singapore, to nationalities and ethnicities all around the world. And having our music in another language is part of the fulfillment of this vision.”