Yunnan Miao Church Choir's Singing Gift: Part 1

The choir of Meng'en Church in Dapingtan Village, Wuhua District, Kunming, Yunnan, sang Silent Night before the Christmas of 2019.
The choir of Meng'en Church in Dapingtan Village, Wuhua District, Kunming, Yunnan, sang Silent Night before the Christmas of 2019. (photo: Phoenix Television )
By Yi YangMarch 23rd, 2020

"In a remote village in Kunming, Yunnan, there is a special choir consisting of young teenagers as well as members in their 60s and 70s."

A program launched by Phoenix Television on March 17 told a story behind "a choir in a Yunnan village". 

Starting in the winter of 2019, the program team of C'est La Vie walked into Dapingtan Village, Wuhua District, Kunming, Yunnan. The two-episode story began with a morning scenario of daily Miao village life: locals selling pigs, old people shepherding sheep, and vendors hawking on the street. 

Then the scene changed with the voices of some grannies who, leaning on sticks and carrying baskets on their backs, pulled radishes in the field. 

As they returned home, one of the elderly women said that they could sing secular songs but instead sang Christians hymns every day. 

While walking, they were singing, "The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters...."  Back home, another senior Christian sang, "Jehovah, what is mankind? Human beings that you care for them? Mankind is like a breath, his days are like a shadow and pass quickly...."

Later the camera moved to the village's Meng'en Church. A brother opened a piano and started playing while several  believers sat in the pews, opened the Bible, and read in their native Miao language. 

After the meeting, elderly believers recalled the past while sitting by the fire. One of them said that they are lovers of songs but that they are poor. However, singing is easy for them. Most local Christians can read music and turn lyrics into songs, but they need to practice for hymns such as The Messiah.

In their younger days before cellphones, they hummed while herding cattle on the hills. The person mentioned Wang Zhiming, a martyr Miao pastor, who had gone to Beijing as vice-head of a Yunnan ethnic visitation team. 

They sang again, "How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity! It's like precious oil poured on Aaron's head... For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore."

In a rehearsal before Christmas, believers wearing everyday clothing sang, "All is the Lord's grace, all is the Lord's love..." Then they prayed aloud. 

The scene cut to a working Christian. He lives on growing maize, wheat, and raising cattle and sheep. When he is sick and needs money, he sells livestock. Few villagers have been to college and normally they work after graduating from middle school. They, along with a few younger laborers, are able to sing hymns. 

Another believer became a Christian when she was young. She makes a living by keeping pigs and sheep and is also involved in the choir. She is a soprano in the choir. 

Her 70-year-old mother-in-law said that her parents were also Christians. Speaking of hardships, she sang a hymn about heaven: "My hometown is not here, but in heaven. People who suffer will not have disasters, toil, diseases, and will rejoice forever... " While singing, she burst into tears. 

The last scene ends with the carol Silent Night, sung in the church by believers in their ethnic costumes: "Silent night, holy night...Jesus, Lord at Thy birth..."

- Translated by Karen Luo

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