Music Ministry

The humble seed, planted 40 years ago

By John Luyirika (Former Music Minister, St Andrew’s Church, Bukoto)

During the Centenary celebrations in 1977, there was a challenge of composing songs and hymns about the church journey in the past 100 years. About the same time, at St. Andrew’s Church, Bukoto, a choir was founded with a mission to serve the Almighty God and the community through singing and praising.

The men who gave all to build the Bukoto choir

The then Parish Priest, Rev. Grace Kaiso, invited Mr. Luyinda Semakula, (RIP) who was a student at Bishop Tucker Theological College to give support to the choir. He was later ordained a priest and first served in Mityana Diocese but later transferred to Kampala Diocese (St. John’s Church, Kamwokya). The Rev Kaiso reached out and identified another talented musician, Mr. Emmanuel Serwada who was also a student at Mukono. The coming of Mr. Serwada made the choir gain even higher momentum and won frequent recordings at the then only radio station in the country (Radio Uganda). The choir also made several appearances on the National Television (UTV) during the religious hour programme. When Mr. Serwada completed his studies, he was posted to St. Andrew’s Church, Bukoto. He could not continue to be active in training the choir, given his pastoral duties.  Just at the time the Lord brought to us, the late Fredrick Patrick Sebyayi, a German trained musician who was assisted by the late Stanley Sempala a professional Musician. During that time the choir attracted many gifted men and women both young and old. The choir at that time was entirely a Luganda choir.

Later, the late F.P. Sebyayi initiated an English service choir and became its choirmaster, while his counterpart (Mr. Sempala) remained the Luganda choirmaster. For the first time two choirs co-existed and catered well for the two services. It is amazing how the two choirs have produced more choirs. Today, there are seven choirs which together form the St. Andrew’s Joint Choir (SAJOC). We indeed praise the Lord for the journey He has walked us through. SAJOC is composed of two English service choirs (7.30 and 11.30 am), the Luganda service choir (9:30am service) and the Runyakitara choir (2.00pm service).  Other choirs that form SAJOC include the Chosen Generation (English service praise and worship team), the Luganda service praise and worship team and the Midweek service choir aka redeemed choir. All these choirs minister harmoniously under the umbrella of the Music Ministry.

1996- A memorable year?

The year 1996 is memorable in St Andrew’s church. In that year, the youths of St Andrew’s Church presented a Dance and Drama concert. After that concert, it was strongly felt that the church ought to introduce a special worship and praise session within the English service hence the launch of the Chosen Generation choir.  Mr. Thomas Mwanawakuno, the Youth Chairperson at the time and Ms.  Connie Nyadoyi, played key roles in birthing the “Chosen Generation” choir. This choir started by ministering in the 7:30am English Service and later in the 11:30am English Service. Some ten years ago, a Runyakitara service was born and concomitantly, Runyakitara choir was formed. In 2018 there was a need to split the English choir that was serving both the 7:30am and 11:30am English services into two distinct choirs.  This has allowed both choirs to develop and provide services to the satisfaction of the two congregations.

Singing with a missional heart

The Music Ministry at St Andrew’s has been active in outreach. For example, when the then Vicar (Rev Katwesigye) was made Bishop of Kigezi Diocese, the Music ministry organized a mass choir which ministered during his consecration. The mass choir later made a follow-up ministry to Kigezi Diocese where they ministered through music.  Later St Andrew’s Music Ministry made outreaches to West Ankole Diocese, and Gadumire in Pallisa district. Other outreaches have been to St. Joseph Bulindo Church of Uganda, St. Luke’s Church in Ntinda, and Martyrs Church in Katwe.

Our Music Directors, the Choir Masters, the Organists and the Choristers have ensured that St. Andrew’s Church is one of the few churches in the Diocese of Kampala that has maintained the traditional Anglican Church music.  

Our guiding principles

The Music Ministry within St Andrew’s church aims at upholding and promoting integrity, professionalism and best practice in music as guided by the church. The music ministry strives to uphold the bond of unity, ensuring constructive cooperation within all the choir members and the rest of the church. We believe that our choirs at any time represent work in progress and we strive to continuously build the capacity of our choirs. We view our ministry as a collective voice through which useful ideas can be harnessed to influence worship and praise matters in the church. God has called us to “preach” to the congregation through singing, praising in church and in outreaches. And most importantly we are more than privileged to be serving our Lord, the Most High. Who are we, mere mortals that through our voices God is pleased to have us serve Him?

Thank you all for allowing us to serve you and the Lord.

My special acknowledgement goes to St. Andrew’s church that has allowed me to serve the church in many different capacities since I joined the church approximately forty years now. My service in the church over this period has given me a chance to write what I have seen happen and what I have heard from the senior men and women in the church.

Finally, my thanks go to everyone under the Music Ministry for accepting me as your Leader and to have worked with me all this time.

May God bless you.