Original Research

The importance of understanding and making sense of Zulu traditional hymns as a symbol of expressing worship: Cognitive hermeneutics and hermeneutics of hymnody theories

Sakhiseni J. Yende
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 4 | a7038 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.7038 | © 2021 Sakhiseni J. Yende | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 August 2021 | Published: 14 December 2021

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Sakhiseni J. Yende, College of Music, Faculty of Humanities, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

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Singing and understanding Zulu traditional hymns among charismatic churches and gospel groups have become a fundamental worship tool. Zulu traditional hymns are at the centre of Christian lives in South Africa. Singing Zulu traditional hymns (iCilongo Levangeli) is predominant for many South African musicians and gospel groups using modern musical styles. However, contemporary churches, musicians and gospel groups tend not to understand the authenticity of these hymns. The issue of Zulu traditional hymns in the modern gospel industry is a matter of great concern. Therefore, this article addresses and discusses the importance of understanding and making sense of Zulu traditional hymns as a symbol of expressing worship. Data were collected for a research practice using a hermeneutic phenomenology paradigm to obtain a precise understanding and the original meaning of the prominent Zulu traditional hymns. The study reveals that there are Zulu traditional hymns that were misinterpreted and misunderstood. The misinterpretation of Zulu traditional hymns is partly attributable to the ignorance of the underlying true meaning, emotions, state and purpose of the original composer.

Contribution: This study recommends that contemporary gospel musicians sing Zulu traditional hymns in the original text to ensure that they do not misinterpret the hymns.


churches; gospel groups; musicians; worship; Zulu traditional hymns


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