Sithi Haleluya

Sithi Haleluya is a well-known Ndebele church song from Zimbabwe, often sung in Shona, as well. It was popular during the anti-Apartheid movement where it was also part of a wide-ranging repertoire of South African protest/freedom songs.

The song was first shared with the MMC community by Canadian song leader Hilary Seraph Donaldson, who learned it from Maria Minnaar-Bailey. Maria grew up in rural Zimbabwe where she played in local marimba bands and learned and taught indigenous styles of music. She now brings those first-hand experiences of African music making to communities in the United States.

You can learn more about the context of the song and find teaching strategies through Break into Song, a series of instructional videos created by Hilary.

Singaba hambayo thina kulumhlaba
Siy’ekhaya ezulwini.
(Sithi) Haleluya.

Literal English translation (Maria Minnaar-Bailey):
We are walking along in this world of woe,
but onward home to Heaven we go.

English singing translation (Andrew Donaldson and Hilary Seraph Donaldson):
Together we walk along in this world of woe,
for heaven calls us on and home we go.

Sheet music for the song can be found in the recent Global Song resource Hosanna! Ecumenical Songs for Justice and Peace. You can also find an arrangements for SATB choir and marimba ensemble in Maria's Chaia Marima Songbook 3.

Here's the Break into Song episode created by Hilary exploring Sithi Haleluya:

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  • Rachel Kroh
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