On Thursday, 17 April, I was privileged to attend the Opening Night of “Daughters of the King”, An Easter Gospel Music Extravaganza at the Johannesburg Theatre. Easter is the most sacred of celebrations in the Christian Calendar. Without Easter, (the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ). there is in fact no Christianity. Easter is when the early church began. Imagine my surprise when I heard that the Joburg Theatre was hosting an event of this nature.
The cast – South African gospel singers Rebecca Malope, Ntokozo Mbabo, Gloria Bosman, Malie Kelly and special guest singer, Freddie Wessels. All of these singers are highly talented and active in their local churches.
The event was certainly one to be remembered. The show is an interesting mix of various gospel genres. So, there is something for everyone, the ‘happy clappy’ Pentecostals, the docile Evangelicals and Baptists, and everyone in-between.
I think you have to go to the event preparing yourself that it is a ‘show’ and not a worship service. In church one does not necessarily clap when someone sings a solo, the Reason being, the song forms part of the worship service. It’s not about the person singing the song, but about the One to whom the song is sung. Worship singing is a critical part of a church service. It forms part of the ushering in to presence of God. So, Christians, just enjoy the songs, clap, sing along and enjoy the journey.
Although, I must warn those going just for the entertainment experience – you will hear a lot of “Amens”, “Hallelujahs” and “Thank you Jesus” shouts from the crowd throughout the show. The reason for this is simply because of the deep personal meaning the lyrics of the songs have for Christians.
So, the ‘show’ at the theatre was an intriguing one. The first few songs in Act 1 included Ntsikana’s Bell, Babu Yetu, Woza Nawe Nawe and Mbonge. These songs are well known in African Gospel Culture. Needless to say, many African people in the audience knew all the words and literally rose to the occasion singing and dancing along. So, if you’ve ever longed to experience true African gospel rhythm, you simply have to visit the show. Dance is very common in African Gospel churches (I suppose not un-common in Pentecostal churches as well). Although many conservative Christians (like me) are not accustomed to the idea of dancing in a worship or church environment, we have to remember that David ‘danced before the LORD with all his might’ – 2nd Samuel 6:14. Worship differs from church to church. Every church has its own personality. At the end of the day, it’s all about one’s personal expression of joy and celebration for what God has done in your life.
From a ‘South African’ perspective, – it was wonderful to see the “oneness” in the body of Christ. The blend of the various languages and the subtle intermingling of cultures were simply amazing. One of the highlights was when Freddie Wessels sang an Afrikaans song and was joined half-way through by Rebekka Malope who also sang in Afrikaans. both finally ended the song in Zulu. At some point there were even Zulu dancers gracing the stage. One could not help but say that South Africans rocked once again! What an amazing multi-cultural nation we are.
Some of my personal favourite oldies like Alabaster Box, His Eye Is On The Sparrow, More Than Wonderful, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, and of course, Oh Happy Day were included in the programme, much to my delight.
So all in all, Daughters of the King scores 9 of out of 10 from me. Daughters of the King was a fantastic start to a special Easter weekend. If you haven’t yet seen it yet, the show runs until 21 April and tickets are available here http://www.joburgtheatre.com/en-GB/shows/daughters%20of%20the%20king/events