by Michael Podrebarac
After having led the expected traditional hymns at the entrance and the offertory, the choir chose an interesting selection for Easter Sunday Communion: “Bambelela.” This is a “traditional South African” piece, taken from the section of the hymnal entitled, “Christian Life.” The word roughly translates as “Never give up.”
“Bambelela, bambelela, O bambelela, bambelela, bambe, bambe, bambe, bambe, bambe, O bambe, bambelela. Never give up, never give up, O never give up, never give up, never, never, never, never, never, no never, never give up.”
Back and forth between the African dialect and the English equivalent, the choir moved the melody with just enough pulse and just enough restraint. Text and music fit their voices well. And then, the cantor began to sing verses over the continuing refrain, some which went something like this:
“You must never give up through sorrow and pain; remember that the sunshine comes after the rain.”
“You must never give up when oppression abounds; like Jesus and his cross, you won’t stay down.”
“You must never give up, but hope in the Lord, and live in him, and trust in his word.”
“You must never give up, you won’t stay lost, for you have been purchased at a precious cost.”
“You must never give up, though death draws near; remember he is risen, and have no fear.”
“You must never give up, for all shall be well; the Lord conquered death, and ransacked hell.”
“You must never give up, even when you sin; the Lord will give you peace, if you just let him in.”
On and on, the verses went. The cantor, whose voice was pleasant enough, was surely moved by the Holy Spirit, for he appeared to hold no book as he sang, and his eyes were mostly closed.
We often think of Easter as merely a time to give praise for the historical fact of the Lord’s resurrection. But Easter is more than a day or even a season. It is the very foundation of our Christian life.
We must live Easter each day, allowing the Lord to triumph over the ups and downs, the changes and chances, of our earthly lives.
Jesus didn’t rise so that we might enjoy an Easter “someday” but rather that we might live even now in the light of his love, his mercy and his power.
And we cannot do this without others, as was brought home by the cantor’s last verse, directed warmly to those present who might not have been in church for a while:
“You must never give up, for you belong here, not only Easter Sunday, but all through the year.”
We are not alone. He has risen and is with us, always. We must never give up.