Saturday, March 29, 2014

Taiwan: The Music Ministry Grows

As the churches in Taiwan grew, so did the opportunity for ministry through music. Chinese TV channels increased from two to three, Pirated recordings of music were available at almost every corner. Chinese believers living abroad provided  yet more music resources for local musicians. One of the Christian organizations in Taiwan that had a tremendous influence on the music used in churches was Overseas Radio and Television. Doris Braugham and Lee Haggerty combined to form a powerful evangelistic team that used music to penetrate virtually every area on the island with the gospel. Doris is an excellent musician, utilizing her skills as a choral expert and  trumpet player to train and develop local musicians, as well as performing herself with various music groups.

They utilized a small musical ensemble called "Heavenly Melody" that communicat,ed the good news of salvation through evangelistic concerts, recordings as well as radio and television appearances.
I had heard of this group prior to our arrival in Taiwan through Benjamin Kuo, music director for the Ren Ai Baptist Church in Taipei, who was in the US on a study leave. Their musical style was unique, and very popular among the younger generation of church musicians. In addition to concerts around the island the Heavenly Melody singers traveled throughout Asia, Europe and the US. In the early stages of our own Reverberations development, their choral publications proved to be valuable resources for our young group, as the music was upbeat and readily received by believers and non-believers alike.
For more information on this wonderful organization, visit their website at ORTV

When we arrived in Taiwan, there was a dearth of music for church choirs. Some students and others who were studying abroad sent back a few anthems or cantatas, but their use was often confined to one or more churches. Through the efforts of musicians such as Benjamin Kuo, some music publications were made available to the public, and sung by local church choirs.
As the Reverberations grew in popularity, many choir directors began asking for copies of the music they performed. I began corresponding with the publishers, requesting permission to use their music to provide more choral literature for the Chinese churches. Most were very co-operative, and either granted gratis permission, or only charged a small fee. However, the most difficult publisher to deal with proved to be our own SBC Church Music Department. To be honest, it was not because they were not willing to work with us, but because they were limited in their ability to grant copyright permission because of an agreement with the Foreign Mission Board to work exclusively with their publisher in Hong Kong, Baptist Press.
There were many obstacles to working with Baptist Press in Hong Kong, and some were impossible to overcome. Baptist Press had a high standard for publishing music, and seemed unaware of the flourishing market in Taiwan for good choral music at a reasonable cost. Music published by HK Baptist Press was expensive due to their high quality standards, and thus not very marketable in Taiwan. For that reason, we used mostly music from other publishers.
Local church musicians took advantage of training opportunities to hone their conducting skills in addition to learning more about how to begin and maintain children's choirs. Nannette was very active in the training of these musicians.

Nannette also  saw the need for children's music and published a collection entitled "When Children Sing" (孩歌唱) complete with a cassette tape of the songs. She worked with our own Mass Comm Center to produce the cassette, using a small instrumental ensemble, including an autoharp, with two adult singers.
A picture of the recording appears below.

Due to the increasing number of churches and the growing demand for music appropriate to the abilities and desires of the local choral groups, I felt that Baptists in Taiwan needed a center that would help to supply at least some of the music needs. With the approval and support of the Taiwan Baptist Mission, the Baptist Church Music Center was formed, and office space was provided in the Mission's office building.
Soon, music was being supplied by the Center for the choral ensembles in churches across the island. Several collections of music popularized by the Reverberations were also published, all with the copyright permission obtained by the original publishers. Below are some of the cassette tapes that accompanied these publications.

  It was very gratifying to see many young people come to know the Lord through the ministry of these publications and recordings, as well as the evangelistic concerts by the Reverberations.

Promise of the day from God's word.

Ecclesiastes 11

1 Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting to hear the history... John Mark Hansen