Lunar New Year falls on January 22nd this year, and I’m back with more songs and ideas to celebrate the holiday in a worship service, building off my blog post from last year on this topic.
1. May the Love of the Lord – Dr. Swee Hong Lim and Maria Ling
This English language benediction song has a pentatonic melody. The song’s background story can be found here. A choral arrangement is available here.
2. May Jehovah Bless You – Gloria Fanchiang
I wrote benediction lyrics to the tune of the popular Chinese New Year song “恭喜恭喜 (Gōngxǐ Gōngxǐ)” written by Chen Gexin. Permission is granted for non-commercial use in worship.
3. Remember Us – Steven Ambo
This song was written by Washington-based songwriter Steven Ambo for an InterVarsity Asian American Ministries conference “to place us in the generational context of our community, honoring our forebears and blessing our descendants.” The song could be incorporated into intercessory prayers or communion liturgy. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for usage permissions.
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4. Liturgy of Honoring Our Ancestors
The following liturgy and photo, shared by Sarah Hoyoung Ku (@asiancatholicwoman), is from a Chinese New Year’s mass in a Californian church:
The liturgy begins with a reading from Sirach 44:1-15, read both in Mandarin and English.
“I will now praise the godly,
our ancestors in their own time.
The abounding glory of the Most High’s portion,
his own part since the days of old.
Subduers of the world in kingly fashion,
Renowned for their might.
Counselors in their prudence,
seers of all things in prophecy…
All these were glorious in their time,
illustrious in their day.
Some of them left behind a name
so that people recount their praises.
Of others no memory remains…
Their bodies are buried in peace,
but their name lives on and on.
At gatherings their wisdom is retold,
and the assembly proclaims their praises.”
After the reading, there is a presentation of incense, flower, wine and fruit that are brought to a prepared table. The whole congregation follows with three traditional bows, showing respect for our ancestors.* The liturgy ends and then we share congratulatory wishes in celebration of the Lunar New Year.
*A caveat- Speaking from my (Gloria’s) experience as a Chinese Christian…some Chinese Christians (and other types of Asian Christians) may feel uncomfortable with the presentation of incense and fruits as well as bowing because they may have been taught that ancestor veneration traditions are pagan. It would be wise to pastor the congregation through this type of liturgy and work with them to reclaim these traditions.
5. Tell the Stories of Asian and Asian American Ancestors
Find a moment in the worship service to share about an Asian saint or notable Asian American in history and their contributions to society as a way to remember and honor them. A member of your church could even share about an ancestor of theirs. Conclude the sharing with a prayer thanking God for the ancestor’s legacy.