More than a quarter of a million people have viewed “The Blessing Aotearoa New Zealand” within a week of the music video being uploaded on YouTube.
More Than Music Mentor founder Grant Norsworthy, who produced the music video, said the New Zealand version of the song – based on Numbers 6:24-26 – is the offering of Kiwi Christians of different denominations (including some Catholics) to the global Christian Church.
“I felt that what we wanted to do was to be a part of the global movement of the Christian Church, no matter what our flavour, style, denomination,” said Mr Norsworthy.
Mr Norsworthy, who does not identify with any particular Christian denomination, said Nelson Anglican Bishop Steve Maina first suggested to him (Mr Norsworthy) in April to do a Kiwi version of a virtual choir singing the song.
Mr Norsworthy said he first had to find out if anyone was doing the same project. When he was sure that no one else was doing it, he reached out to as many people as he could.
Wellington archdiocese seminarian Alfred Tong is one of the Catholics who performed in the video.
One of Mr Tong’s pastoral engagements at Our Lady of Bays Parish in the Tasman district is to attend ecumenical meetings of the Richmond Waimea Ministers Association (RWMA). It was in one of these meetings where he met Mr Norsworthy.
“It sounded like his initiatives were a great way to facilitate dialogue between the Christian churches, so I was happy to engage with Grant. We exchanged contacts, anticipating necessary opportunities in music ministry arising at Our Lady of the Bays Parish that required Grant’s mentorship,” he said.
When Mr Norsworthy asked him (Mr Tong) to submit a voice video for the project, Mr Tong was happy to assist.
“I was already in the mindset of producing reflection videos at the time, and thought it wouldn’t hurt to contribute to this wonderful initiative,” he said. “To my amazement and joy, it captured the spirit of our union in Christ.”
Mr Tong said the video is particularly meaningful during this time of pandemic.
“I think we as a Church have all in some way been challenged by asking the hard question about Christ’s continued presence in our lives,” he said. “Given all the conspiracy theories which have been surfacing about Covid-19 – and a particularly misguided worldview that ‘Covid was an act of God’ – this song is a clear reminder of Christ’s everlasting presence and God’s abundant providence, which is a ‘blessing’, that has roots in the covenants made to Israel, right from the story of Eden in Genesis.”
Mr Norsworthy said the making of the Te Reo Maori verse, led by David Tapane Sr, taught him (Mr Norsworthy) how deeply Maori live in their language and culture.
“[The language, the culture] the sceneries and the faces, these are things that make our version of ‘The Blessing’ different from the one from Hawaii, or the one from Canada, or anywhere else,” Mr Norsworthy said. “This is ours, and we are connected with our land, and we are one people who are diverse, and that’s the strength of it.”
He said a project like this will help encourage Christian unity.
“I’ve developed some relationships with Catholic people through doing this project. And I find that we have so much more in common than we have difference,” he said.
His son is starting next year at a Catholic college.
“We all want to worship the one true God. And we want to be a blessing, not just to sing about it,” he said.