Over the past month (I’ve been in Hungary for a month already! Crazy!), I’ve had several memorable episodes and encounters revolving around music. For me, making music is a passion and a hobby, and it is a big part of my family’s traditions and my own spiritual practice. As J.S. Bach said it, “the aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.”
While we were staying in Budapest, I had the chance to see Bizet’s opera Carmen at the Erkel Theatre. I did not have a chance to read a synopsis before the performance, and the performance was in French with Hungarian prose and subtitles, but I still understood what was going on most of the time. I was utterly impressed by the vocalists’ ability to project to the entire audience, even those of us sitting 4 rows from the back. The performing arts seems to be highly valued in this part of the world, so I hope to see more live music and theatre this year.
My first full day in Miskolc (Wednesday, September 16) was quite overwhelming. I met with the headmaster of the secondary school, had a tour of the primary and secondary schools, was introduced to all of the teachers, and sat in on a couple of English classes. I tried to fully embrace the YAGM mentality of “say yes and go with it”. My afternoon concluded with the kindergartner’s Bible class, where they sang “This Little Light of Mine” and “Go Down, Moses” in Hungarian before starting the Bible story of David and Goliath. I tried to teach them the English words to “This Little Light of Mine”, but we mostly just did the actions all together. It was quite adorable, and I couldn’t help but feel the presence of God among the language and age barriers. It was a great way to close such a long day.
Later that week, I went with Orsi, who is my site supervisor and an English teacher, to the high school music class that she was covering for (again, embracing the “say yes and go with it” mindset). There were no lesson plans, but there was music for “Amazing Grace” that they were going to sing for an upcoming performance. I played the piano while they sang, and it was comforting to hear a familiar hymn amidst all the stress of moving to a new city. Afterwards, a student showed me how to play “All of Me” by John Legend, and the whole class sang along, in English. It was a moving reminder of how fun and amazing it is to make music together, despite our age, language, and cultural differences. (It is also evidence for how American media is so globally widespread, but that’s perhaps for another post.)
Of course, no Lutheran church experience would be complete without a choir, and I have joined the local church choir. I am singing soprano, which is a whole new world, and all of the songs are in Hungarian, so I can work on my pronunciation as I sing all the high notes. Everyone has been very welcoming and eager to help me find my seat, make sure I know what song we’re rehearsing next, when to breathe in the song, etc. They are preparing for a concert in Budapest on October 10, and I hope to perform with them! Here are a couple of the songs we will be singing:
A világ világossága – Light of the World. This is also familiar hymn tune in the ELW 576, “We All Are One In Mission”, which is ironically appropriate for this year. There are 3 verses, but I recorded just the first verse. Here’s a link to a recording of it: https://soundcloud.com/kirsten-larsen-1/a-vilag-vilagossaga-light-of-the-world
Lyrics of the first verse:
Ha jő a nap az égre, S megáll a hegyeken,
Ragyogva csillan fénye, A harmat cseppeken.
Szent égi fénye minket Új életre hív el,
S eltörli bűneinket Örök szerelmivel
Ujjongva zeng a Mindenség – Joy to the World. I recorded all 3 verses. Here’s a link to a recording of it: https://soundcloud.com/kirsten-larsen-1/ujjongva-zeng-a-mindenseg-joy-to-the-world-1
Lyrics of the first verse:
Ujjongva zeng a Mindenség, A szívünk lángra gyúl,
és dalra kél a tágas ég, és dalra kél a tágas ég,
Mert vélünk már az úr, mert vélünk már az úr,
Mert vélünk már az úr, mert itt az úr