A few days ago I started studying the Cherokee language from a book that was recommended to me. A few lessons in I was pleasantly surprised to find the first two verses of "Amazing Grace"!
The book says that "Amazing Grace is especially loved. It has been sung so often, on the Trail of Tears and since, that it has become almost a Cherokee national song." Lots of Cherokees say that it's almost the national anthem of the Cherokee Nation.
That moves me.
Last year after reading a discussion about evils in the world and the apparent uselessness of faith in Creator, He gave me a picture of a Cherokee who was removed from his homeland. Many were Christians (and some missionaries who worked among them also went with them on the Trail of Tears). Somehow in the midst of the great injustice they received from the United States, many held onto faith in Tsisa, Jesus, which is nothing short of a miracle considering all that "Christians" had done to them.
As I was painting, I remembered Joseph, sold by his jealous brothers as a slave to Egypt when he was young. He went through much suffering and could not see the purpose until much later, when Creator used him to help save those who had wronged him. They had done evil and meant harm to him, but Creator redeemed it and turned it into good. In the same way, I wondered, although the United States has done evil to Native Americans, could Creator bring something good out of it? Could He use Natives to help save the nation that has wronged them?
I'm moved and thankful to know that this grace has an amazing hold and root in the hearts of many Cherokees, even to the point that they sang of it on the Trail of Tears, in pain but in hope. It's beautiful, and I have no more words to speak... I can't say anymore. I'm looking forward to learning this.
I looked up the meaning of the words and am somehow moved and touched by their straightforward simplicity and faith:
"Amazing Grace" in Cherokee
(transl. by Dr. Samuel A Worcester & Elias Boudinot)
Un ne la nv hi u we tsi (God's Son)
i ga gu yv he i (paid for us)
hna quo tso sv wi yu lo se (Now to heaven He went)
i ga gu yv ho nv (after paying for us)
a se no i u ne tse i (Then He spoke)
i yu no du le nv (when He rose)
ta li ne dv tsi lu tsi li (I'll come the second time)
u dv ne u ne tsv (He said when He spoke)
e lo ni gv ni li s qua di (All the world will end)
ga lu tsv ha i yu (when He returns)
ni ga di da ye di go i (We will all see Him)
a ni e lo hi gv (here the world over)
u na da nv ti a ne hv (The righteous who live)
do da ya nv hi li (He will come after)
tso sv hna quo ni go hi lv (In heaven now always)
do hi wa ne he s di (in peace they will live)
(Sung by Grammy Award-winning Cherokee trio Walela)