Eight Songs from Hosanna: Lipina tsa Kereke (Hosanna: Church Songs) and Bukana ea Lipesaleme (Book of Psalms)
Volume V of the Mohapeloa Critical Edition comprises songs for use in African churches, drawn from one published and one unpublished source. The published source is the solfa book, Hosanna: Lipina tsa Kereke (Hosannah: Church Songs), published by Morija Sesuto Book Depot in 1955 and reprinted the same year. Mohapeloa’s eight songs in Hosanna, which included songs by other composers, were ‘Balisa’, ‘Hosanna’, ‘Christmas’, ‘O, Phokolang’, ‘Molimo ke Moea’, ‘Silevera le Gauda’, ‘Ahe Moren’a Khanya!’ and ‘Na Le ’Na?’. ‘Molimo ke Moea’ had already been published in 1939 as song no. 445 in the Lutheran Evangelical Church hymnal, Lifela tsa Zione. These works are mostly longer and somewhat more complex than many of his other religious songs. They are anthems rather than hymns, in some ways better suited to a choir than to congregational singing.
The unpublished source is a sheaf of manuscript pages headed ‘Bukana ea Lipesaleme’, containing 39 short harmonizations in Mohapeloa, handwriting, of old Protestant psalm or hymn tunes. The sheaf of pages was discovered in a filing cabinet in one of the Music Department offices in Lesotho Teacher Training College in Maseru, by Dr Eric Karabo Lekhanya, who showed it to Christine Lucia and kindly allowed her to copy it in 2011. Dr Lekhanya was Dr Mohapeloa’s successor at the LTTC, after the latter’s death, and is himself a distinguished composer. He assisted in the transcription and editing of these works.
The harmonizations or settings are very short - some are barely half a page – and since they were originally found as a manuscript collection headed Bukana ea Lipesaleme they are collected together here as 39 components of a single psalm book, Book of Psalms. Each setting can, of course, be sung separately. They are in most cases of Dutch or German origin, and obviously intended for congregational use, far less complex and far shorter than the works in Hosanna. Thirty-seven of the texts are from the Psalms, and two are from other Biblical sources. The exact reason for these settings is unknown, but the need for them may have arisen after a new edition of the Koral Boek vir Gebruik by die Afrikaanse Psalms en Gesange (Choral Book for Use with Afrikaans Psalms and Hymns) was published in Cape Town in 1978 by Die Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk (the Dutch Reformed Church), and it may be in line with a move by this racially divided church, at that time, to service its ‘African Mission’. Indeed, many of the tunes harmonized by Mohapeloa and given Sesotho texts, come from the Koral Boek. There are a few that do not, however, and these and other details are given in the front pages of Bukana ea Lipesaleme in Volume V.
Each score is headed, ‘Afrikaans melodie’ with the metric length of phrases given below the psalm number, as shown in the manuscript example below. These melodies may have been ‘givens’ that Mohapeloa was obliged to work with.
The key on this example is given with its continental European solfège equivalent added - ‘ray’ meaning D major, i.e. one step above C/‘doh’. Mohapeloa did not normally add the solfège equivalent in brackets, being educated into tonic solfa by English teachers in the mission school in Morija, as were most African mission pupils in southern Africa at that time. The English solfa system uses a moveable doh rather than the fixed doh of the continental system, in which doh is the keynote of whatever key the composer chooses. Although the missionaries in Morija were Swiss-French and would have been brought up in the solfège system, this was not taught in Lesotho’s mission schools, perhaps because they were modelled on those established by the London Missionary Society, but more likely because the teachers were usually the English wives of French-Swiss missionaries.
The manuscript was composed for congregations of the African mission of Die Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk, the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa. The settings are of Psalms 1, 8, 23, 24, 25, 33, 38, 42, 46, 48, 65, 66, 74, 75, 81, 84, 89, 91, 93, 100a, 100[b] (two versions, the second not named as such, hence the square brackets), 104, 105, 107, 115, 116, 123, 130, 134, 136, 137a, 137b (two versions), 138, 146, 147, 149, and 150, the Gospel According to St. Luke ch. 15 v.18, and the first book of St John the Divine ch. 3 v.1-3.
Accompanying the manuscript was a covering letter in Sesotho that Mohapeloa wrote to the person who most likely commissioned these Sesotho psalms. The following English translation of this letter is by Mantoa Motinyane-Smouse.
Mr. P.S. Steyn P.O. Box 20008 Noordbrug Potchefstroom N.T.T.C.
P.O. Box 1393
Following a telephonic conversation with Rev. Mantoro Mokoena of Mangaung I dispatch to you a revised copy of Book of Psalms which I hope will satisfy you according to the amount of effort I have put into the exercise and in light of the written material at my disposal.
As I mentioned earlier, the honorarium for doing this exercise is R150.00; an initial deposit of R50.00 for which I am grateful, has been received.
I look forward to the payment of the R100.00 balance for which I thank you in advance.
Yours in His service
The letter is undated (as are the settings), but both can probably be assigned to 1979 because the letter was addressed from the National Teachers’ Training College where Mohapeloa taught between 1978 and his death in January 1982 (Mohapeloa & Phakisi 1987; the college is now the Lesotho Teachers’ Training College), and because Mohapeloa’s harmonizations are closely modelled on some of the items in the new Koral Boek published in 1978.
New harmonizations for the African branch of the DRC in various African languages may have been commissioned to ‘go with’ the 1978 revised Koral Boek. This publication has many more psalms and ‘gesange’ (songs or hymns) than 39, including more than one arrangement of the same melody. As is usual with psalm books and hymn books, a congregational version was also published in 1978, called the Die Berymde in Gebruik by die Afrikaanse Kerke... which has the melodies only. Mr. Steyn, the addressee of Mohapeloa’s letter was presumably an official in this African branch of the state church of the South African Republic, Die Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk van Afrika (The African Dutch Reformed Church), a branch founded during the apartheid era as a mission to non-white congregations - since white people were not allowed in the main DRC. Although the ADRC would not have had a church in Lesotho, an independent kingdom not politically part of South Africa, it must have had one in Mangaung, the African area of the city of Bloemfontein, which is the nearest city to Lesotho in South Africa and an area where many Basotho live. This is why Rev. Mantoro Mokoena ‘of Mangaung’ is mentioned in Mohapeloa’s letter. He may have been the person who recommended Mohapeloa to Mr. Steyn in Potchefstroom, who himself must have understood Sesotho, the language in which Mohapeloa’s letter is written.
The letter suggests that Mohapeloa sent a previous version of his Psalms to Mr. Steyn, which needed revision although we do not know why, nor does this previous version seem to exist. On the other hand, this manuscript may itself be that first version, the second having been posted off to Mr. Steyn in 1978 or 79. In which case, is this letter to Mr. Steyn a fair copy or an original? Was this the second corrected version of the ms., not sent? We shall probably never know, and if anyone in the community of the church or of choral singing can shed any light on this, please use the contact form on www.african-composers-edition.co.za to get in touch with the Editor of this critical edition.
The nine works in Vol. V, originally written in tonic solfa notation and without texts translated (because they were written for Sesotho speakers) are newly transcribed into staff notation here, and are presented together with translations, notes, and commentaries. The works are numbered JPM120 to JPM128 for the composer’s catalogue and ACE239, 241, 243, etc. to ACE255, for the publisher’s catalogue in Vol. V. Vol Va presents the same songs and critical apparatus as Vol. V, but tonic solfa notation is added to the staves and even nos. are used for the publisher’s catalogue: ACE240-256; and because these are effectively different scores, new ISMNs are assigned to the works in Vol Va. Page numbers are given for each psalm although they all have the same JPM/ACE/ISMN.
Christine Lucia, December 2016