The Original Hymnody of Gereja Masehi Injili di Minahasa

An Analysis of the Songbook Nyanyikanlah Nyanyian Baru Bagi Tuhan


This paper explores a local creative system through an analysis of the songbook Nyanyikanlah Nyanyian Baru bagi Tuhan (Sing a New Song to the Lord), published by Gereja Masehi Injili di Minahasa (The Christian Evangelical Church in Minahasa) in the Indonesian province of North Sulawesi. It explores the lexical and musical aspects of the fifty songs in the book as a window into understanding how the denomination worships and what they believe. The study is based on grounded theory, concentrating on the intended communication of the songs by the church and its leaders. It uses qualitative data analysis to uncover and categorize concepts within the songs and the supporting sources such as the prefaces, church liturgy, and interviews. The research identifies several significant themes in the church and surrounding culture. There is a strong preference for group worship and a trend toward horizontally singing to one another about God. Confession is emphasized within the larger topic of the problem of sin. Over and above these themes, however, the songbook represents a localizing creative expression of this sizable Indonesian church denomination, increasing its status and clarifying its identity. It is an act of conservative creativity, revitalizing the existing domain within a local creative system. This analysis discusses these ideas and considers what this tells us about the church and its creativity.

Author Biography

Matt Menger, SIL International; Dallas International University

Matt Menger is the International Ethnomusicology and Arts Coordinator for SIL. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from the University of Houston, and he is currently a Ph.D. student at Dallas International University with a focus on World Arts. He and his family have lived in Indonesia since 2009 and work alongside several large church denominations there. His current research interest is in understanding and strengthening creative artistic systems in local communities.