The churches of the Iglesia Luterana Agustina de Guatemala are using hymnals now, created by musician and former member of the ILAG pastoral team, Todd Thompson. The hymnals use an indigenous language, Q'eqchi', alongside Spanish for the liturgy and the songs. It is nicely done, clearly organized, and user-friendly.
Why bother with books when so much of what our companion churches do in worship is learned by rote? Songs, with six or seven verses, all memorized and sung loudly. The Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, all memorized and rattled off with no paper bulletin in front of the congregation.
As a frequent visitor, I have to say that I find the hymnal very helpful in participating in the service. I speak Spanish, and so I can read the text. A non-Spanish speaker might still prefer to use a bilingual (Spanish-English) handout, which trip leaders can provide. But is the main purpose of the hymnal to help the visitors from the States?
I don't believe so. I do believe that many of the ILAG congregations are learning new versions of the liturgy and new hymns to sing. The book contains guitar chords for over 200 hymns or liturgical verses. What an opportunity to try new ways to worship! The music retreats held at the Lutheran Center offer the lead musicians from each congregation an opportunity to delve into the hymnal and learn new music to bring back to their home churches. And while it is true that many of the adult women cannot read, most of the men can. And nearly all of the younger church members can read and actively use the hymnals.
With three new congregations about to join the ILAG, there is a need for financial support to buy more hymnals. The cost of each book is $10. If you or your congregation might be interested in supporting the purchase of more hymnals, please send your offering to:
Saint Paul Area Synod
attn: Greg Triplett
105 W. University Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55103
Thank you for your support,
Guatemala Task Force of the Saint Paul Area Synod