Several years ago, I was given a book by Chuck Jacob which was based on a Burundian hymn (of all things). The hymn was written in the early 20th century in Kirundi by a man named Emmanuel Sibomana. An Anglican missionary translated it into English, and this was used as the structure for this book on the subject of the grace of God. I enjoyed the text and the meter, but not knowing the tune, I wrote one for it.
We’ve sung it as a team from time to time in worship, and when we got to Burundi, we procured a few Burundian songbooks. As soon as I learned a bit of vocabulary, I found a hymn titled Ubuntu bg’ Imana (The Grace of God) which had the right number of stanzas.
Later on, I asked some of the medical students in our Bible study if they knew the tune. Several did, and they agreed to let me record them one night after Bible study.
Then, this past month during a visit to Nashville, my brother-in-law Jonathan and I did a recording of it, first in English, with several stanzas of the medical students singing the original in Kirundi at the end.
Ubuntu bg’ Imana (The Grace of God)
O how the grace of God amazes me
It loosed me from my bonds and set me free
What made it happen so?
His own will, this much I know,
Set me, as now I show
My God has chosen me, though one of nought,
to sit beside my King in heaven’s court.
Hear what my Lord has done
O, the love that made him run
to meet his erring son!
This God has wrought.
Not for my righteousness, for I have none.
But for his mercy’s sake, Jesus, God’s Son,
suffered on Calvary’s tree-
Crucified with thieves was he-
Great was his grace to me,
His wayward one.
And when I think of how, at Calvary,
He bore sin’s penalty instead of me.
Amazed, I wonder why
He, the sinless One, should die
For one so vile as I;
My Savior he!
Now all my heart’s desire is to abide
In him, my Savior dear, in him to hide.
My shield and buckler he
Covering and protecting me;
From Satan’s darts I’ll be
safe at his side
Lord Jesus, hear my prayer, your grace impart;
When evil thoughts arise through Satan’s art,
O, drive them all away
And do you, from day to day,
keep me beneath your sway,
King of my heart.
Come now, the whole of me, eyes, ears, and voice
Join me, creation all with joyful noise:
Praise him who broke the chain
Holding me in sin’s domain
And set me free again
Sing and rejoice…