Members of Waimea Hawaiian Church Choir
at "Folklife Hawai'i" festival, Honolulu

Photo by Carl Hefner, 1990

Hawaiian hīmeni (hymns)

"He Aloha Lani Ke Kau Nei," performed by Waimea Hawaiian Church, 214 kB .AU

He aloha lani ke kau nei
Ma ko Iesū lā lae
Ma kona po'o he lei ali'i
He leo ho'omaika'i
Majestic sweetness sits enthroned
On my Redeemers's brow,
His head with radiant glories crowned
His lips with grace overflow

"He Aloha Lani Ke Kau Nei (Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned)," was composed by Rev. Lorenzo Lyons, who in the nineteenth century translated over 900 hymns into the Hawaiian language.

In spite of the use of English throughout Hawai'i, the Hawaiian language continues to be used in Bible reading and in the singing of hīmeni (hymns) in many Christian churches. Himeni still preserve the beauty of the Hawaiian language.

In 1820, Congregationalist missionary Hiram Bingham introduced "singing schools" at the site of Kawaiaha'o Church on O'ahu island. He taught native Hawaiians Western music and hymnody. These "singing schools" emphasized congregational singing with everyone actively participating, not just passively listening to a designated choir. The Reverend Bingham and others composed Hawaiian hymns from previous melodies, sometimes borrowing an entire tune, using Protestant hymn styles.

The Waimea Hawaiian Church, a part of the Ni'ihau Protestant denomination Ho'omana Ia Iesu, continues one of the most traditional styles of himeni. The congregation of the church comes originally from the privately owned island of Ni'ihau, but now live on the island of Kaua'i. As did early 19th century Congregationalists, the Waimea Hawaiian Church congregation does not have a designated church choir.

[Hawaiian music] [Lu'au home page]

29 February 1996