Over a decade ago, WEC missionary and ethnomusicologist Ian Collinge had the inspired idea of forming a multicultural worship band in the UK. Its purpose would be to bring songs of the nations to British churches, with a vision to enhance their worship with a new and exciting dimension. The Resonance Band was born, and quickly began to minister to multi-ethnic churches across the country, leading services, conferences and prayer events.
“Our events are vibrant, inclusive and enriching,” one band member said, “bringing songs from across the globe into the Western worship repertoire.”
Within months of its creation the band was ministering in France, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as sending teams to far-flung destinations such as Japan and Senegal. Then in 2016 the Resonance London Band was founded, in addition to the original Leeds-based band, and booking requests began to flood in.
“We’re recording our first album in early 2019,” said Rob Baker, leader of the London band. “Our vision is to start a movement of multicultural worship across the UK and beyond.”
‘So what’s the point?’ I hear you ask. Aren’t Hillsong, Matt Redman and Chris Tomlin enough? Well, it turns out that music is not a universal language after all. Every nation and culture of the world has its own musical styles and norms, and it is this music which speaks to the heart in the most effective and powerful way.
“We were leading worship in a church in Hammersmith, London,” says Rob. “We sang a Chinese song called Wo Di Shen, and I noticed a Chinese man in tears on the front row. He’d left his country five years previously, and this was the first time he’d worshipped using his own language and music since then. Music is a powerful tool in touching hearts and minds with the truth of Christ.”
The band’s songs are all participatory, with words in English as well as many other languages, including Hindi, Swahili, Farsi, Arabic, Thai and Mandarin Chinese. And, whilst providing authentic global worship, the songs are also simple enough for any Western worship band to learn and begin to incorporate into their own services.
A recent innovation by the band is a global prayer event entitled ‘Engaging Nations’, a virtual world tour which uses Prezi technology to blend video, song and prayer for the nations. Each Engaging Nations event includes a ‘global’ quiz and an international buffet, and the auditorium is decked with flags of the world; it’s a full-on experience for all five senses.
“These events have been a great success,” said one band member. “They have transformed the mission prayer meeting into something dynamic, interactive and inspiring.”
And the future? Having already multiplied the band by two, the vision is to see Resonance bands popping up across the world, bringing the powerful sounds of global worship to our churches. We live in a multicultural world, and many of our churches today are multicultural. Should our worship not reflect this richness and diversity?
If you’d like to find out more about the Resonance Band, please visit: https://artsrelease.org/en/mus... or our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ResonanceBandUK/
Rob is a music teacher, an ethnomusicologist and author of Adventures in Music and Culture. Prior to becoming involved with the Resonance band, Rob and his family were cross-cultural workers in West Africa.