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Living Water2 min read

Lutheran Bible Translators (LBT) serves in remote language communities all over the world, bringing God’s Word to people in languages they can understand. Recently, LBT has taken on a different kind of project. Partnering with Peter Prochnow, Director of Worship, Music, and Media at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Oviedo, Fla., they are now working on recording the whole English New Testament—every chapter, every verse—set to music.

LBT Executive Director Mike Rodewald explains: “Part of [LBT’s work] is ‘What forms can carry the Word to people?’ One of the fields in Bible translation is called Ethnomusicology. LBT has an ethnomusicologist/ethnodoxologist who takes Scripture, puts it to local music, and then people listen to that. It’s a great way for the Word to be spread, especially in non-literate communities.” When Prochnow first heard about Ethnomusicology in Bible translation, he was fascinated and wondered why no one had set God’s Word to music in English yet, since even in North America there are people who can’t read. He envisioned something like a film score for God’s Word.

Prochnow says, “We tried and it went really well. It was more exciting than I thought. I can recall hearing Scripture differently, like ‘I don’t remember those words’ in pretty common verses, and it felt almost like I was getting a text message from God.” Rodewald had a similar reaction: “All of a sudden you’re experiencing Scripture in a different way; you are hearing the verses in a way that is different than when someone is just talking, reading.” That is one of the goals of the project: to experience Scripture in a different way and, in a sense, hear it for the first time.

The Bible version utilized in Living Water is the English Standard Version (ESV), and the publishers must approve everything before it is released. There is no artistic license: what you hear is written in the Bible and you can follow along. There is no charge, either; it will all be made available for free.

Why is LBT doing this? Rodewald explains that Scripture engagement is a big part of LBT’s work, and in the United States there is less Scripture engagement than there used to be, so LBT saw this as an opportunity to engage our own people in our context.

Prochnow and his team are currently recording the New Testament. The project is set to be released—one chapter a day—on the 500th anniversary of the translation of the New Testament in 2022.

To hear a sample of Scripture set to music and to learn more about the project, visit lbt.org/livingwater/. To hear the podcast where Rodewald and Prochnow talk about experiencing Scripture, click here.

Photo (c) LightFieldStudios/iStock

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This blog is published by the Communications Department of the Michigan District, LCMS.

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