Posts Tagged ‘Reggae’

On August 6, Jamaica celebrated fifty years of independence from Britain.

As one of the more than 1.5 million Jamaicans and our descendants living outside of the island, I join them in wishing our 2.7 million fellow Jamaicans at home a joyous anniversary celebration.

In 1962 I participated in the inaugural independence ceremonies in Kingston’s National Stadium, so it is with some sadness that I am unable to be in the island to share in the festivities.

Whether we now make our adoptive home in the United States, Canada, England, Europe, Australia or elsewhere around the world, we of the Jamaican Diaspora think fondly of our island and send our best wishes and congratulations to our island nation.

Although I left Jamaica in 1969 and now I live in Los Angeles, I try to keep abreast of what is happening in the island and around the Diaspora through my online news site “A Jamaican’s Journey Daily.”

We’ve followed the country’s peaks and valleys in politics, economics, culture, sports, and entertainment over the past five decades, and while there are many major challenges facing the people and leaders, they have tended to face circumstances with optimism and hope, as expressed in the common expression “irie” – no worries, every thing is all right.

And it is that spirit of “irie” that the nation not only celebrates its independence this week, but also its 2012 Olympic men and women athletes in London.

As I watch the 2012 Olympics and cheer on both the American and Jamaican athletes, I’ll be celebrating our independence in spirit and feeling very nostalgic as I remember that night in the National Stadium in 1962.

In my nostalgia I’ve been humming two long-forgotten songs from my childhood and teen years—Harry Belafonte’s “Jamaica Farewell” and “Island in the Sun,” both of which bring tears to my eyes and a longing to walk the hills and shores of Jamaica once again.

Finally, in a week when the Jamaican anthem is being played both in Jamaica and in the Olympics, I would like to remind my fellow Jamaicans that the anthem is actually a prayer:

Eternal Father, bless our land,
Guide us with thy mighty hand,
Keep us free from evil powers,
Be our light through countless hours.
To our leaders, Great Defender,
Grant true wisdom from above.
Justice, truth be ours forever,
Jamaica, land we love.
Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica land we love.

Teach us true respect for all,
Stir response to duty’s call,
Strengthen us the weak to cherish,
Give us vision lest we perish.
Knowledge send us Heavenly Father,
Grant true wisdom from above.
Justice, truth be ours forever,
Jamaica, land we love.
Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica, land we love.

May that be our sincere prayer.

Now, please click the following links to hear a new rendition of the national anthem by the Canada-based Jamaican band, Ibadan, and a new musical tribute to Jamaica by Bunny Rugs of one of my favorite bands, Third World. I hope that you’ll enjoy listening to them.

Grace and peace

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In my memoir, A Jamaican’s Journey to Time and Patience, I reflect on my personal odyssey to discover and fulfill God’s call in my life, heal family wounds, and share Christ’s message of redeeming grace and love. Set against the historical background of 470 years of Spanish and British rule (1492-1962) over Jamaica, the memoir portrays my family whose African, Chinese, and European roots merged in Jamaica during the 1800s, then scattered across the globe in the 1900s. This post is third in a series that will reflect on my Jamaican heritage and how it has shaped my Christian journey.


 In 1960, I returned to Jamaica from Hong Kong in time to experience the tail-end of a style of music known as “ska,” and the birth of two new styles called “rocksteady” and “reggae”—all three coming out of Trench Town, a slum section of Kingston.

I often rode my bicycle into Trench Town to visit my high school sweetheart and future wife, Joetta, whose father had a home and business in that part of town. She and I would sit on her verandah and talk of marriage, children, and my becoming a pastor.

And it was on that verandah on Friday and Saturday nights that I first heard the sounds of the deep, thumping bass lines from ska music being played on gigantic sound systems at nearby dance halls. The music was raw, fresh, and all together different from the usual American music played over the Jamaican radio stations.

Music and vocals were being created daily by the local youth of Trench town, their words reflecting the patois of the mean streets and harsh poverty of the unemployed and unemployable. They sang of romance, of sex, of oppression and injustice, and, if they were Rastafarians, of their devotion to their god, Haile Selassie, emperor of Ethiopia.

The rhythm of Ska soon shifted to rocksteady, which in turn evolved to a new form known as reggae, exploding out of the dance halls and onto local radio before gaining international popularity by the ’80s and ’90s.

The story of the musicians behind all three styles is captured in the documentary, “The History of Jamaican Music,” which I have included in the music video section of this blog. The most famous of these musicians was a young man I once met before he became famous—Bob Marley.

Although reggae is more readily identified with Bob Marley and a host of musicians usually associated with the Rastafarian movement, there is another music movement coming out of Jamaica—and it’s called “reggae gospel.”


The driving force behind reggae gospel are musicians and singers who grew up loving reggae, but experienced the life-transforming power of Jesus Christ.

And just as Jesus Christ forgave their sins and called them to a life of holy service in his Kingdom, so, they feel, he has called them to commit their musical instruments, voices, and talents to him and in service for his Kingdom—to proclaim his gospel and sing his praises.

These are the men and women who, with Paul, now proclaim:

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, New living Translation, NLT)

They are also inspired by Scriptural passages such as:

“Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.” (Psalm 33:3, New American Standard Bible, © 1995)

Sing your praise to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and melodious song, with trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn. Make a joyful symphony before the Lord, the King!” (Psalm 98:5-6, NLT)

“He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:3, New Living Translation)

The following is a sample of some of these reggae gospel musicians. I hope that you’ll enjoy and be inspired by their music. Please click to view and listen:


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