Vol. LIII No. 8
August 2018

Choctaw Hymnal app now available

ADA, Okla. – A new application for mobile devices will help preserve a tradition Chickasaw and Choctaw churchgoers have enjoyed for almost two centuries.

Developed by the Chickasaw Nation through the Chickasaw Press with cooperation from Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton, the app will allow songs to be opened on a smartphone in the event a church does not have enough hymnals to accommodate all singers.

“These beautiful and powerful Choctaw hymns have been a cherished part of church services for Chickasaws and Choctaws for generations,” said Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby. “This new app will help ensure this vital aspect of our culture and religion will continue to enhance the worship experience for generations to come.”

Songs expressing different aspects of spirituality had been part of Chickasaw and Choctaw culture long before contact with Europeans.

When protestant missionaries arrived in Choctaw lands in 1819, they brought Christian hymns with them. As these missionaries began to learn the Choctaw language, they began preaching in Choctaw and also composing songs for the services.

Choctaws who converted to Christianity also began to preach, and some of those Choctaws also composed hymns in their language expressing concepts vital to Christianity.

“Choctaw hymns have been passed down for generations, many of them sung on the Trail of Tears by our ancestors,” Choctaw Chief Gary Batton said. “They provided comfort then and continue to be a source of strength for the Choctaw people. The app is a great way to always have them close. Yakoke to everyone who worked to make them available.”

A Choctaw hymnal was first published in 1829 including 55 hymns. While some hymns popular today were not in that original hymnal, they were added to later editions, with the last major group of hymns added in1850.

Parishioners will soon have the ability to download 18 of those most beloved Choctaw hymns on an app developed through an agreement between the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations.

Approximately 20 new hymns will be added every three months until the complete Choctaw Hymnal is available.

The Choctaw Hymnal app is now available for both Apple and Android devices through the Apple Store, Google Store and Amazon, tribal officials announced.

Once downloaded, the hymnal will be available to the user even if internet or phone service are unavailable, which is particularly useful in rural areas. The songs are stored in the users’ smartphone to be accessed at will.

A Table of Contents offers additional convenience for users. Worshippers will also have the ability to increase the font sizes from 18-28 point for ease of reading.

The app will be faithful to the integrity of the Choctaw Hymnal and will be a mirror image of the actual book hymnal, tribal officials said.

It will give parishioners the ability to sing Choctaw Hymns without carrying the printed hymnal to worship services.