Reviewed by George Luke
In my years collecting Christian music from around the world, I've come across some strange hybrids (Messianic Jewish reggae on the violin, anyone? How about Polish Hi-Life, then?), but I was still quite surprised to receive a CD of Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi Christian songs (or bhajans, to use the correct Indian term for them) recorded in Oslo! Jan Diwana lives in Norway, and with the help of a Norwegian guitarist/bassist and the support of the Norwegian Sound & Picture Fund, recorded this selection of songs in memory of his father, the late Reverend Samuel Allah Ditta. The album's subtitle is a bit misleading, as the songs themselves are all sung in their original languages whilst the English translations of the lyrics are printed in the CD booklet. Reading through them, it does seem at times as though Jan's used that infamous internet translation service to translate the songs (sample line: "Decrease their pains those believe in you"). Nevertheless, he still manages to get across the heart of the songs - and to share some insights into Indian Christian life in the process. One good example of this is the Urdu song "Ham Deen-e-Masiha Ki Khatir", with the opening line: "We prefer to die to keep our faith in Christ/At the time of oppression, we call upon Jesus." "Tajarat Na Samjho Ye Khudawand Ka" warns against mixing commercialism with faith, and "Aman Ke Shahzade Se" (I Shall Meet The Prince Of Peace) is a simply beautiful piece of poetry, regardless of what language it's in. Right at the very end of the album, it gets a bit weird with a bizarre rendition of "Jingle Bells" in Hindi - complete with Editor C's great bugbear, a choir of singing children. But that aside, the album's an engaging listen.
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