Indian music is difficult. The complexities of its theory and notation surpass even many Western education musicians (like myself). I remembered learning about something called "raga," which was most similar the the Western "key." The term "tala," however, we just couldn't begin to understand. It may be tempting for American churches to give up Indian worship songs, but have you heard about Aradhna?
"Aradhna’s front man Chris Hale writes, '…my passion in life is to build bridges between cultures. A good bridge builder has a strong foundation on his own side and then builds a strong foundation on the other side, and then he crosses over.' Strong foundations are indeed one of the defining characteristics of Aradhna’s founding members. Chris Hale, an American, spent his childhood and adolescence in South Asia, where he gained fluency in Nepali and Hindi. It was in these formative years that Chris began to study the sitar and develop a love for bhajans, the classical devotional genre of India, and particularly of Hindus. In 1991 Chris formed the rock fusion band Olio and toured all across India for 6 years before releasing their first Hindi album Naam Leo Re (1997). Later that year, American guitarist and vocalist Pete Hicks returned to India, the land of his birth, to join the band in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Olio concluded its final tour in 1999 and soon after Hale and Hicks reunited in London. Soon the two friends began a new collaboration that would evolve into Aradhna.
As soon as Chris and Pete had enough material for an album, they decided to record in the U.S. where they met up with bassist Travis McAfee. The three of them had an instant rapport, as Travis spent part of his childhood traveling to Africa, India, and throughout Southeast Asia."
Enjoy the East-West fusion of worship in the song "Herana," sung in Nepali. I can attest that I've sung their song "Amrit Vani" at both of the multicultural churches I've served, and they enjoyed it. Video, lyrics and translation for "Herana" are below.
Herana akashma taarako ujyalo Nawjat Prabhu ko darshan garna Nagara biyalo
Ishwarko bachan puro garnalai aaé Prabhu jagama Manavko sabai dukha bujhnalai pasrié dondaima Gothalaharu chakka paré jab dekhé swargadutlai Daadas paai ramai gaé khabar dinalai
Taaralai aphno laksha banaa-ie badhé jyotishigan Bheti chadhaaé darshan paai garaaé anandit man Paapi janko taranahar manisko rupama Khyal narakhi daara kaara baraao sabai Prabhuma
Look up into the sky at the brightness of this star Do not delay but come and see the vision of the newborn Lord The Lord came to this world to fulfill the word of God To understand the suffering of humanity he lay helpless in a manger The shepherds stared in wonder at the angels Encouraged, they went on there way happily, telling the news
The star cast its own light guiding astrologer kings Presenting gifts, they received a vision of the Lord Hearts full of joy, the Rescuer of a people lost in sin is born! Think not to the thorns in your feet Think not to the journey We move and breathe in Him