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Good Christadelphian Music

We want to help people find music that is helpful for them in their walk and hopefully encourage the continued production and use of music in our community and in our services.
By JESSICA GELINEAU
Read Time: 6 minutes

I’m excited to share that Bro. Levi Myers from Cambridge, Ontario and Bro. Levi Gelineau from Simi Valley, California, are teaming up to produce a new quarterly podcast for the Christadelphian community. The podcast title may sound familiar to you, as the Good Christadelphian Talks (GCT) podcast has been operational and reaching listeners around the world for over two years now!

In a two-minute introductory episode, the two Levis discuss their purposes with this new project:“There is so much music being made in our community, and we want to highlight it. We want to help people find music that is helpful for them in their walk. And also, hopefully encourage the continued production and use of music in our community and in our services.”

Each episode will profile three producers or projects and include information on how to listen to the music or become involved in the projects discussed. The podcast can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

This issue of the Tidings magazine features part of an interview with Bro. Simon Tarypally of Hyderabad, India. For the full interview, listen to the first full-length episode of Good Christadelphian Music, which is scheduled for a September 2021 release.

Jessica Gelineau,
Simi Hills, CA

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Interview of Brother Simon Tarypally, Hyderabad, India
Interviewer: Bro. Levi Gelineau

Welcome brother Simon. For someone who’s never met you, tell us where you are from?
My name is Simon Tarypally, and I am a pianist and organist in the Hyderabad Christadelphian ecclesia, in the south of India, Telangana state. I’m coming from a very good locality and very good state, with a number of brothers and sisters. It’s a really good city. You would enjoy it.

We may have met; Jessica and I were in Hyderabad in 2010. So, you were much younger! Hyderabad is a beautiful city, like you say. For anyone who doesn’t know, I think it’s the fourth largest city in India, and it’s kind of near the middle of the whole country.
Absolutely. And that is why we are safe because most difficult things have been happening around the borders, but we are in the middle of the city. It’s quite a safe city.

We’re going to talk about music today and you’re a very musical guy. When did you first become interested in music?
From childhood, I’ve been playing music since I was in eighth standard [eighth grade, or about 12 years old]. I was born into a Christadelphian family. My grandparents, parents and uncles all were Christadelphians. My mom, Sis. Krupa, was baptized first, and my grandparents were baptized afterwards.

Bro. Tim Galbraith started the preaching work in India and the gospel spread around Hyderabad during the 1980s and 1990s. God has blessed us. Now there are many families active in the Truth in the south of India. The spreading of the gospel is really needed!

My primary instrument was a piano. I used to play a few Telugu hymns. Telugu is my native language, being the language of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Then after a few years I started playing English hymns, and then I started playing Hindi. Hindi is an Indian national language. I started playing Tamil (the official language of the state of Tamil Nadu). I started playing all kinds of African songs. So that is how I started, by God’s grace. It’s a blessing to be in His journey and to be His instrument, every time.

Lovely. And what instruments do you play?
I play my keyboard and the second one is violin. I also play an Indian classical instrument, the tabla. I play drums, which is a classical jazz instrument. I play guitar, which is a classical instrument, also Western musical. So, I play both Western and Indian music. My cousins and I were trained as musicians.

What do you think is powerful about singing music and praise?
As you know, singing is coming from the heart. As Paul says, our mind should be very clean while praising God. That’s my personal point of view. As musicians, it’s also really important for our spiritual lives to improve as musicians. Coming into God’s house and coming into Memorial Service, I examine myself. I pray for half an hour or one hour. I’ll pray and do my readings. I’ll do my personal meditation and then I’ll go to my service, I’ll start playing hymns there.

So singing is a part of human growth. I mean, we eat daily food for our survival, but for mind, for heart, it’s really important for us to have a spiritual upliftment, which is music and singing. As you also know, music can heal. Scientifically, it’s proven that music can heal people going through many different illnesses or trials. The spiritual part of music is really important.

Music can be very therapeutic for mental health. Let’s talk about some of your projects. I wanted to talk specifically about the International Praise Nights that you’re holding on Zoom. You asked me to come and speak at one, and it was absolutely beautiful. How did those start?
The Praise and Worship Nights started during the lockdown. India was hit by a lockdown unexpectedly. We had so many losses, as you know, as all the news channels say. Loss in our brothers and sisters, in our ecclesia. Still, there are still brothers and sisters who are still going to hospitals also. But a few of them are still at home quarantined and recovering very well.

One day we had a family get together right after I think that was on Sunday evening after we had a Zoom Memorial Service for our ecclesia. We gathered together in my family. So, we had a small prayer, family prayer, and in a prayer, we got an answer. I think that God has spoken to us in prayer to uplift many people, to start this praise and worship, we [need to have a way for] brothers and sisters to spiritually be encouraged. And then we came up with this idea of how we can have praise and worship, just singing praise in Him. That’s what God needed for this time. The complete book of Psalms says, “Praise, praise! Praise God at all times. Sing praises.”

So, on that basis of this idea, we came up with the praise and worship and we spread it out across India. Every Friday we have hosted the International Praise Nights. I am organizing, so that’s my event. We have seven countries joining us, from three continents. Every Friday we have 20 to 50 people.

Yeah, it was really cool to be a part of it. And the structure was that you sing some songs, and you share some songs and then other people can share songs from different parts of the world. Then there’s a talk and you do more songs. I really liked it. You had music from Africa and from different parts of India, England— not just yourself.
We have the USA, Australia, United Kingdom, Africa, the whole of Africa. And we have South India, New Zealand, Philippines, and Cambodia, all of those brothers and sisters, singing hymns in one Zoom meeting. They’ll be sending me their praise and worship recordings which they have recorded in their ecclesia or in their own time. So, we have musicians, we have singers, we have bad singers, we have good singers. It’s a blessing to be in a fellowship on Friday, which is still important at this pandemic time. I know people are going through spiritual difficulties in life. So, it’s a Christadelphian fellowship between our brothers and sisters worldwide.

Yes. And what has been your favorite thing about the Praise Nights?
My favorite thing is singing and being part of the hymns. And also, the best part would be the Africans who sing the music. They speak Swahili. I think the way they sing those words is excellent. I always say to some of my African brothers and sisters who come on Zoom, I say that Africa was blessed to be musicians. Nobody in this world can sing as beautifully as those from Africa. They have a bond with music. So, it’s always a blessing!

I was struck by people contributing from all over. It really is a beautiful event. I would definitely encourage anyone to join in if you can, though it is difficult with the time difference in the United States! You also produced one virtual choir and you’re working on a second one now. What’s that process been like?
The first choir is a blessing for India and also life changing since in India we didn’t have anything like a choir, though Christadelphians have been in India for 50 years now. Two years back we celebrated 40 years since establishing the Hyderabad ecclesia. To be united in singing hymns has never been done in one video. The main reason for that first virtual choir was to praise and worship God in this pandemic time, pleading for his mercy and praying for our spiritual brothers and sisters. And asking that God heal this world very soon and may we have our normal spiritual lives back again. May God’s mercy be upon this world so we can be united once again, in ecclesia and part of fellowship.

The videos are very beautiful. And I think they definitely accomplish that goal, like you’re saying, in uniting so many faces on the same screen. It’s very, very powerful.
And that has been done also through praise and worship. So first of all, the Praise and Worship event, and from those all, brothers and sisters, we plan to have a virtual first India choir. And then we had worldwide brothers and sisters also joining from seven countries, forty-three instruments, forty-three singers, and three continents we had on the first India choir. I’m really excited for the second one, brother Levi. We need God’s blessings and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to be part of this project, and we need spiritual prayers for this project also, for this second India worldwide virtual choir.

Well, thank you brother Simon. This has been a treat. You have a lot going on and I’m excited to share it with more people so they can join in.
Thank you so much. Have a good day. God bless.

Jessica Gelineau,
Simi Hills, CA

Lift Now Your Voice and Sing – Christadelphian 1st Virtual Choir from India. Listen online: https://bit.ly/3AsQjQi

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