Originallyknown as Glad Tidings, the hymn was then translated by Lorenzo Lyons orMakua Laiana (Father Lyons), an early missionary who arrived in 1831 and spentthe remainder of his life amongst the Hawaiian people. He is known for his work in translating worksto the Hawaiian language and created the first hymnal entirely written in theHawaiian language.
Accordingto Native scholars, this passage was chosen to be sung at the first publicworship of a Congregationalist church in Hawaii on April 23, 1820, whichresulted in a complex history between the Hawaiian people and Christian belief,and also an origin of hymn singing in the Hawaiian language.
I arranged this piece to honor our history through the lens of a Hawaiiancultural practitioner. The arrival of the Congregationalist church in Hawaiʻi has been fraught with controversy and trauma.Our traditions were banned, our bodies were shamed, and our souls deemedunworthy. However, this work has also brought joy. I grew up singing Nū ʻOliwith my mother who would sing this hymn to lull me to sleep, my grandmother whotaught me this hymn on her ʻukulele, and like many Hawaiians, Nū ʻOli was myfirst encounter with the hymn singing tradition. This piece helped keep ourlanguage alive and fostered connection within Hawaiʻi. I honor the legacy ofthis work and the hurt and goodness that it brings.
Dr. Jace Kaholokula Saplan