SAAT 05.04 lecture
SAAT poster, May 4
SMC
STT HKBP

Speaking of Church Music

SAAT 05.04 lectureIn coming to Seminari Alkitab Asia Tenggara (SAAT) for the spring 2018 semester, I came from a music department in a liberal arts college to a church music program in a seminary—different kinds of programs in different kinds of institutions.

And while I love the interconnectedness and cross-disciplinary nature of a liberal arts education, it has also been a gift to spend one semester more narrowly focused on music for the Christian church with students who are all working and studying toward church ministry.

One unexpected result of this semester was the many chances I had to talk about music for the Christian church with students, professors, pastors, musicians, church workers, and others in a variety of contexts. I am thankful for invitations to speak at:

  • Seminari Alkitab Asia Tenggara, Malang, for students and professors in the church music program, for a public lecture shared with Dr. Michael Hawn, and for the English language student fellowship.
  • Sekolah Tinggi Theologia HKBP, the seminary of the Batak Lutheran church in Siantar, North Sumatra, forstudents studying liturgy and church music and singing in the seminary choir.

 

STT HKBP
STT HKBP

These opportunities gave me the chance to lecture on a wide variety of topics, most on church music and some on the relationship between Christianity and culture. Here is a quick summary of topics I got to discuss:

  • Biblical Principles of Christian Worship. Basic principles of Christian worship, drawn from Psalm 145 and Romans 11:31-12:2 and addressed to those who are planning worship, including pastors, worship leaders, and musicians.
  • Foundational Principles of Church Music. An overview of key principles for music in worship that can guide the choice of music in any local church.
  • Singing God’s Whole Story. A consideration of the songs a local church sings, with encouragement and strategies for singing the whole Gospel story.
  • And All God’s People Sang “Amen!” An encouragement to broaden the scope of music sung in a local church, with particular attention to receiving gifts in song from God’s people of all times and all places.
  • What J. S. Bach’s Music Can Teach Us about Church Music Today. Practical, creative, and spiritual recommendations for our church music today growing out of J. S. Bach’s life as a church musician.
  • Music Leaders in Christian Worship. A theological basis for music leadership roles in Christian worship, with particular attention to song in the Christian church.
  • God’s Story in Pop Culture. An encouragement for Christians to explore this question when considering the relationship between Christianity and popular culture: “Where does God’s story show up in pop culture?”

I had a great time discussing these topics with so many different people. Thank you for all those who made these discussions possible and all those who joined them!

SAAT Ministry Center, Jakarta
SAAT Ministry Center, Jakarta
Blog 8

Listening to language, understanding each other

Since beginning this blog, I have been thinking of writing about language. And since beginning this blog, I’ve been avoiding it. For processing the mysteries of language(s) is more than I can hope to even reflect on in one blog post and certainly much more than I myself understand.

But I also need to accept the assignment (from myself) and just write. So some brief thoughts about some of my thoughts on languages.

Very simply, I am conscious of language and of languages every day in Indonesia. I am conscious of hoping to understand others and hoping to be understood. I am conscious that I know very little of Bahasa Indonesia, the national language of the country in which I reside. I am conscious that it is normal for Indonesians to speak multiple languages. I am conscious, as always, that I have a lot to learn.

I am also conscious that a language is a gift. The more we learn of a language (including the first languages we learn), the more of that gift we received. The more languages we learn, the more gifts we receive.

A language also is a worldview, a particular way of understanding and processing the world. Through it we comprehend name realities of nature and culture and other persons and God. It is through language that we make sense of what our senses sense. And it is through language that we communicate to others our own understanding of the world.

To learn a language is seek to understand another’s point of view. It likewise expands our own worldview, giving us new ways of thinking about the world.

To learn a language is to bridge a gap to another person, another culture, to seek to understand and be understood.

This is certainly true for other persons in the present. I seek to expand my knowledge of Bahasa Indonesia so that I can better understand my students and colleagues. Yes, their English is excellent, but to know these persons more fully I must learn their language, their particular way of processing the world. The more fully I know Bahasa Indonesia, the more fully I can know those fellow humans who think, and most often speak and listen, in that language.

This is also true for persons of the past. We learn languages to read, hear, understand what people from the past wrote, said, communicated, as well. I am celebrating this approach now through a translation project, a bilingual edition of the poetry and prose of Germany’s first female poet laureate, Christiane Mariane von Ziegler. I’m particularly living with, and translating, her writings on three topics of great importance to her (and expressed, of course, in her native German): poetry, music, and women’s rights.

So I urge you: listen closely in every language. Seek to share with others the ways you understand and process the world. Listen to others: let them share with you the ways they understand and process the world. Listen in your own language. Listen in the languages of others. Listen and seek to understand.

Music students and faculty, Southeast Asia Bible Seminary, May 2018
Music students and faculty, Southeast Asia Bible Seminary, May 2018
saat-spring
Mark Peters

From Palos Heights to Malang

Indonesia - SAAT Institute

In late-May 2016, I was invited to speak at a choral festival at Southeast Asia Bible Seminary (Seminari Alkitab Asia Tenggara, or SAAT), in Malang, Java, Indonesia. SAAT is a Christian seminary in the Reformed tradition that was founded in Bandung, Java, in 1952 and moved to Malang in 1954. The seminary has a long tradition of educating leaders for service to Christian churches in Indonesia, China, and beyond. In addition to their Master of Divinity program, SAAT offers bachelor’s degrees in theology, including one with a focus on church music.

SAAT in the Spring
SAAT campus in the spring

My particular connection to SAAT comes through my colleague, Yudha Thianto (professor of theology at Trinity), who attended SAAT and is well connected with its administration and faculty. It was his dreaming that got me to SAAT in 2016 and began the whole process of spending my spring 2018 semester here with my family.

I am joining SAAT’s faculty for the semester as visiting professor in the undergraduate church music program. I will teach two music history survey courses, one on Medieval and Renaissance music and another on music in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I will also direct two choirs: the seminary choir, an 80-voice choir of students in the theology and music programs; and the Vocatus ensemble, a chamber ensemble of about 20 singers from the music program. I will also participate in the life of the department by attending chapels (four days a week) and the music department’s studio classes (every Tuesday).

At Trinity, we strongly encourage our students to consider enrolling in an off-campus program during theMark Peters in Indonesiair undergraduate years, including both Trinity’s Chicago Semester and our many opportunities for studying internationally. I’m very excited that I, as a professor, now have this opportunity, and I know I will learn much more than I teach this semester! In this blog, my goal is to communicate some of what I learn during this semester of cross-cultural learning and teaching.

More to come soon. In the meantime, you can learn more about SAAT here: https://seabs.ac.id/en/.