955

Mungu ni mwema (Know that God Is Good)

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

How can the worshiper not conclude with such acclamations! When God is the “overflowing source of all good” (Belgic Confession, Article 1) and when he has provided all the benefits of Christ’s atonement and makes them ours so that “they are more than enough to absolve us from our sins,” (Belgic Confession, Article 22) our hearts cry out to him with praise and adoration. Therefore, Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 52, Question and Answer 128 includes the ending doxology of the Lord’s Prayer and teaches that “your holy name, and not we ourselves, should receive all the praise, forever.” And so consistent with these thoughts, Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 2 exclaims, “Our World Belongs to God! God is King: Let the earth be glad! Christ is victor: His rule has begun! The Spirit is at work: Creation is renewed! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!” And the Belhar Confession, Section 5 concludes: “Jesus is Lord. To the one and only God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be the honor and the glory forever and ever.”

Additional Prayers

You, O Lord, have placed your hand upon us.
We need not run from you in shame.
You, O Christ, have placed your life within us.
Our lives will not end in isolation or obscurity.
You, O Holy Spirit, are nurturing your passion within us.
Turn us from vanity and reckless desire.
Father, Son, and Spirit, we give you thanks and praise. Amen.

Tune Information

Name
MUNGU NI MWEMA
Key
F Major or modal

Recordings

Hymn Story/Background

This simple song was included in Sing with the World: Global Songs for Children, a collection prepared by John Bell and Alison Adam and published as a songbook with CD by GIA Publications Inc. in 2008. The literal translation of the Swahili is “Know that God is good.” Alison Adam wrote in the introduction to this song, “There is a natural movement to this song that must be encouraged—standing still as you sing will greatly lessen the impact! Since movement comes naturally, the use of sign language does, too. The children can simply sign ‘Know,’ ‘God,’ and ‘good’ in the English verses.” 
— Emily Brink

Composer Information

John Bell (b. 1949) was born in the Scottish town of Kilmarnock in Ayrshire, intending to be a music teacher when he felt the call to the ministry. But in frustration with his classes, he did volunteer work in a deprived neighborhood in London for a time and also served for two years as an associate pastor at the English Reformed Church in Amsterdam. After graduating he worked for five years as a youth pastor for the Church of Scotland, serving a large region that included about 500 churches. He then took a similar position with the Iona Community, and with his colleague Graham Maule, began to broaden the youth ministry to focus on renewal of the church’s worship. His approach soon turned to composing songs within the identifiable traditions of hymnody that found began to address concerns missing from the current Scottish hymnal:
 
I discovered that seldom did our hymns represent the plight of poor people to God. There was nothing that dealt with unemployment, nothing that dealt with living in a multicultural society and feeling disenfranchised. There was nothing about child abuse…, that reflected concern for the developing world, nothing that helped see ourselves as brothers and sisters to those who are suffering from poverty or persecution. [from an interview in Reformed Worship (March 1993)]
 
That concern not only led to writing many songs, but increasingly to introducing them internationally in many conferences, while also gathering songs from around the world. He was convener for the fourth edition of the Church of Scotland’s Church Hymnary (2005), a very different collection from the previous 1973 edition. His books, The Singing Thing and The Singing Thing Too, as well as the many collections of songs and worship resources produced by John Bell—some together with other members of the Iona Community’s “Wild Goose Resource Group,” are available in North America from GIA Publications. 
— Emily Brink