Translating Global Western Worship Song in Local Chinese-Australian Congregational Space


  • Kenelm Ka Lun Chan Alphacrucis College


The translation of English worship songs within Chinese congregations is not a new phenomenon. Song translations accompanied the missionary and church movement in China. Many of these tunes are still used transnationally today (in China and Chinese diasporic communities across the globe), thus continuing the historical use of "western" songs in Chinese church worship repertoire and expression. This article focuses on the local Mandarin-speaking diaspora within Sydney, drawing upon the researcher's ethnographic study of the use of Mandarin translated worship songs and the practices associated with Mandarin translators in Hillsong (Hillsong 华语 huayu). This article focuses on the reception of translated songs in three Sydney-based Chinese congregations: Hills Chinese (a little-known local Mandarin service within Hillsong Church), and two comparable Sydney based Chinese Pentecostal congregations.

The article proposes that the use and meaning of the translated Mandarin songs is decided and evaluated by these local congregations as they navigate their own ecclesial, cultural, and social realities. Within these Pentecostal spaces, there is a shift away from any discussion of globalised music markets (i.e., Hillsong's global sound), towards the localisation that happens in the process of Mandarin translations and their use within these congregations. Furthermore, by focusing attention on these non-western voices it is hoped scholarship can assist a further shift away from the western dominant celebrities popular in contemporary music and its study.




How to Cite

Chan, K. K. L. (2021). Translating Global Western Worship Song in Local Chinese-Australian Congregational Space. Australasian Pentecostal Studies, 22(2), 207–235. Retrieved from



Special Issue: The Spirit’s Voice from the Margin