Hymns: "We ought to bear in mind that whatever we missionaries do, it is the African who is going to sing the hymns." (A.M. Jones) Vita Chenoweth has said that Christian missionaries find that nationals respond enthusiastically to music written in their own musical traditions. That when a people develops its own hymns with both vernacular words and music, it is good evidence that Christianity has taken root. The Anuak have developed their own hymns using the musical forms provided by their culture. I think that the use of Anuak traditional forms in worship has been a most healthy development. A local missionary, Carl Templin said, "the area of the greatest creativity in the Anuak church has been their drum hymns which have all been created by the Anuak church."g

After the initial drum beat calling the people together, missionary Niles Reimer began by singing one phrase of a foreign hymn providing a starting point for the service. The first songs (American hymns) were slow and weakly sung. Then one drum very routinely played to accompany Niles and the congregation. After scripture, Niles sat down and an Anuak gentleman led the singing. A drummer played the larger and smaller drums in combination with a second drummer who kept an even beat. The lead drummer used one stick and hand, the second drummer only sticks. They were soon joined by another drummer making three performers. The lead drummer played highly complex and improvised patterns using hand and stick or hand separately or stick on the rim of the drum. He made extensive use of elbows of either arm with downward thrusting motions on the center of the head which gave a contrasting higher pitched accented sound adding to the sound of the stick and hand . The singin was animated and strong.

Content and Types of Hymns: The Anuak hymns contain several dominant themes. They speak of man's condition on earth, the contrast of God's greatness and goodness, the role of the devil, and various admonishments to the congregation regarding salvation and individual and group behavior. The Anuak hymns stress the difficult life on earth where man is described as an orphan, poor and blind, and his need to depend on God. The greatness of God is contrasted as one who is the chief of chiefs, the owner of all things, the one who unites people, and the one who is sympathetic to the problems of man.

  • Obero The leader and congregation accompanied by the drums first sing the Obero -type songs. Two drummers perform, one beating one drum with two sticks (the smaller drum) and the other beating the larger and one smaller drum with hand and stick. Oberos are chiefly songs of praise for the chief. The chief is praised as well as others in the circle of the chief. The singer makes his own poorness known to all who hear. Oberos eulogize the greatness of the chief, and his deeds of valor. The Obero is used basically as a song of praise or remembrance for a chief (in hymn form, for The Chief!)

  • Agwaga After singing the Oberos (about seven or eight of them), the Agwagas are introduced. the Agwagas have a more rapid and driving rhythmic thrust after an initial "getting ready" first section - a winding up which lets go into a flurry of sound and speed. Three drummers perform, one on the small drum with two sticks, one on another small drum with one stick, and one drummer improvises on the large drum with stick and hand. Agwagas teach the listener about the proper respect for the chief and their behavior before him. The Agwaga may include warnings and instructions to the people. The Agwaga can be a vehicle for recounting various social ills, and like the Obero, the Agwaga may be used as an advice giving method that is accepted nd sanctioned.

Order of Worship: Songs are sung usually in groups. the Oberos are all run together, making it difficult to tell the beginning of one song and the start of the next. During the second section, the Agwagas are treated in the same way, one song after another. After about twenty or thirty minutes of singing, the pastor speaks. An offering is given with the people coming forward if they are something to give: money, grain, a chicken, etc. The singing of the Doxology concludes the service.