News Articles

Librarian translates much needed music textbook into Chinese

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Flipping through books on church music is just a homework or research assignment for some people. But for Fang-Lan Hsieh it was the beginning of a ministry.

Hsieh, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s music librarian, had looked through many books on church music when she became burdened for people in ministry in Chinese churches who did not have the same resources to study church music in their language.

She began to pray about finding a church music book she could translate into Chinese.

“By [translating a book], I felt maybe I could help all of the Chinese churches,” she said.

Hsieh came across “Jubilate II,” a standard church music book written by Don Hustad in 1993 and used for training worship leaders. After much prayer and discussion with Campus Evangelical Publishing House, the publisher decided that “Jubilate II” would be the book to translate.

“There are some [church music books] written by Chinese, but they are not as comprehensive as Jubilate II,'” she said.

After receiving permission from Hope Publishing Company, the book’s publisher, Hsieh began translating. Soon after beginning the project, Hsieh met Hustad when he came to Southwestern for a church music workshop. Hsieh said Hustad was delighted about the translation project.

For the next couple of years, Hsieh would work a full day at Bowld Music Library, then go home and translate each evening while also balancing her duties as a mother and pastor’s wife.

Hsieh, who speaks Mandarin and Taiwanese, used computer software to help her in the translation process and consulted her husband about proper wording and editing.

Hsieh began translating the book in 1994. It was published in 1998 by Campus Evangelical Publishing House in Taiwan and will be used for philosophy of church music classes in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

The original version of Jubilate II has 595 pages. Hsieh’s translated work has 576 pages.

The translation process was challenging, she said.

“The structure of the two languages are very different,” she said. “I had to ask myself `How can I say this [so] that the Chinese readers will understand?'”

She read Chinese newspapers regularly to better understand proper wording as well as to understand the cultural context for which she was translating.

“This book will help students understand church music from the biblical perspective,” she said. “It will help them understand the whole spectrum of church music.”

The book sold almost 2,000 copies the year it was published.

And as books inspired her ministry, Hsieh hopes her translation will do the same for others.

“I hope by my translating this book, it will inspire more Chinese musicians to have a chance to study the philosophies of church music and worship,” she said.

Hsieh would like to translate more books to continue to help Chinese churches.

    About the Author

  • Robyn Little