I’ve been attending a Thai church that some of my students are involved with. There are a few American families that attend the church, but most people there are Thai. There is a Thai pastor and all of the sermons are in Thai. The songs are in the Thai language, but many of them are hymns or contemporary worship songs that I’ve sung in churches in the United States. I usually know about half of the songs. Today I knew all but one. Sometimes, if I’m feeling brave, I’ll sing the songs quietly in English. Sometimes I feel self-conscious doing that, so I just sing along in my head.
Anyway…the words to the songs are on an overhead projector, and I’ve noticed that I tend to stare at the lyrics during the songs even though I can’t read Thai. I always did this at home too, but it was because I was reading the words. It must be a habit now!
An interesting thing is that the church always sings The Wonderful Cross in English. All of the other hymns are translated into Thai. I asked one of the Americans why they do this, and she said that since most Thai people study English in school, they like to sing in English every now and then. She doesn’t know why The Wonderful Cross is the one song they sing in English. Personally, I think the lyrics to that song are pretty difficult. The whole church sings along though, and they seem to get really into it. Of course, I appreciate it when we sing that song. I’ll probably associate that song with my Thailand experience for the rest of my life.