A gift of joy from God

Gratitude and joy for the love of God recently inspired two young Jesuits to write a song. Deacon Soo Young Theodore Park SJ from Korea and Scholastic Jun-G Bargayo SJ from the Philippines say the song Kutafuta Mungu (“Finding God” in Swahili) was a gift for them as 2017 began.

The inspiration to compose the song came the night after Soo Young’s diaconate ordination.

“We were in Arrupe Heights when I was overwhelmed with joy from the congratulations I received from my brothers. We were having our simple party and my eyes were drawn towards my Jesuit brothers from the African Conference. I thought their movements were like dances and their voices were like melodies forming in my mind. The music had a hook and even my heartbeat remembered it,” recalls Soo Young who composed the melody.  

African Jesuits in AIR with the children singers“The music was full of joy. It was coming from a childlike heart that was unworthy and yet God still made it His own. Every musical note was an offering of praise and thanksgiving to God who calls even those who are undeserving of His call. One of our Jesuit brothers from Myanmar commented that it reminded him of Psalm 104:31.”

When he opened his bible, Soo Young was surprised that the Psalm captured every word that his heart wanted to say. “The song does not only describe the joy that I felt, but also the joy of God. And His joy can be found everywhere. Thus, I thought that our song should begin with the chant ‘Finding God in all things’ in Swahili.”

“Kutafuta Mungu” is a song of praise for God and His creation. It opens with a chant in Swahili taken from Psalm 104:31, “May the Lord rejoice in His works.” Toward the end it says “Beauty abounds in everything we bear; Our God is found everywhere.”

The song is also a response to Pope Francis’ Laudato si’.

Composers Soo Young Theodore Park SJ and Jun-G Bargayo SJ with arranger Gino Torres and the child singers

“Finding God in all things invokes from us reverence and respect for all things. When we begin to see that the Lord cares for His creation, we are moved to care for His creation too. When we behold the truth that everything is created by God, we begin to realise that we are only God’s stewards of all the things that surround us,” said Jun-G who composed the lyrics.

Except for the chant and introduction in Swahili, “Kutafuta Mungu Katika Mambo Yote” (Finding God in all things), the verses and chorus are in English.

The recording of the song was another encounter with God’s generosity from Ignatius Media Communications of the Korea Jesuit Province, which funded the project, and the Society of St Paul, which produced two versions of the music video.

Jesuit scholastics in Arrupe International Residence make a special appearance in one version. As the credits begin to scroll, an inset appears with scholastics singing Finding God in all things in their own language.

“We were talking about gathering all the Jesuit Scholastics in the Arrupe International Residence and having them translate Kutafuta Mungu Katika Mambo Yote to their respective languages. And it happened. We were able to record in 10 different languages from JCAP,” shared Jun-G. These languages are Mandarin, Tetum, Cambodian, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Korean, Burmese, Japanese, Thai and Filipino.

“In all these, we realise that anything is possible with God,” said Jun-G. “Our favourite part of the song is the children singing Kutafuta Mungu. It tells us our story. We are like children who are amazed at seeing God everywhere. We are not only celebrating the faith that we have, but also the companionship that we continuously enjoy in the Society of Jesus.”    

Watch the music video featuring Jesuit scholastics in the closing credits singing Kutafuta Mungu in their local languages.

You can buy “Kutafuta Mungu” on iTunes here.