Maria Holland

Pengyou, Ting!

In Uncategorized on December 14, 2011 at 7:10 pm

This week, safely past Gaudete Sunday and into finals, I finally started listening to Christmas music.  My Christmas music collection includes lots of classics as well as music from past holiday concerts that I participated in during my band years, and one in particular stood out to me this year. 

I’d heard it a hundred times before, but I finally made the effort to look up the words.  All I could really understand was the beginning (‘pengyou ting’, or 朋友听, means “Listen, my friend”) and the name of Jesus.  After a Google search or two, I found this:

Pengyou, ting zhe hao xin xi:
Yesu jiang shi wei jiu ni,
Benlai ta shi tian shang shen,
Te lai wei jiu shi shang ren.
Pengyou, ting zhe hao xin xi:
Yesu jiang shi wei jiu ni,
Yesu Jidu, Jesu Jidu.
Jiang shi wei jiu wo, jiu ni!

And then I was even more confused.  This is one of the first times I’ve ever seen a bunch of pinyin that I didn’t already know the characters to, and it is striking how ambiguous this text is. 

The first line is pretty easy – “Listen, friend, to this good news” – and I understand on the first read-through.  But in the second line, I find myself wondering, Jesus did what to save you?  ‘Jiang’ can be 将, 讲, 降, and those are only the verbs that I know of that might possibly fit in this context.  After a little bit of thought, I thought the line was 耶稣降世为救你.  But, even more interestingly, I was really confident that the ‘shi’ was “to  be” (是), but Google pinyin seemed pretty confident that it was “earth” (世), which would turn the meaning from “[The reason] Jesus came down is to save you” to “Jesus came down to earth to save you”. 

Line 3 is also easy – 本来他是天上神, or “Originally he was a God in Heaven”, but line 4 causes at least a double-take.  The first time I heard it, I thought it was 他来为就是伤人, or “[The reason] he came is for the injured” but then again, maybe they meant 他来为救世上人, or “He came to save the people on earth”. 

Well anyway, I still like the song and its message.  Or messages.  Or whatever. 

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