By Hudson Kuteesa
If there are ever hard years in life, people may say 2020 rates among them.
The economic devastation, fear, loneliness that characterized this year really made it a hard time for everybody – Christians inclusive, because we also live on the planet.
The difference is that for us Christians, God is our refugee, so, no matter what happens, He is on our side and that is what matters. Jesus said, “In the world you shall have troubles: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
That is what matters. Christians find solace in The Lord through prayer and worship. So, in this hard year, one of the sweet things we have had are some new worship songs that have come out.
In this article, The Gospel Time looks at the top 10 Rwandan Gospel songs that came out in 2020.
Here is a countdown, from 10 to 1.
A disclaimer here: This list should not be misunderstood as one for the most-watched gospel songs on YouTube or the most famous ones in 2020. This list is for those songs that I find very fervent, laden with meaning about who God is, and with words that are to be treasured when you bring your heart as a sacrifice to the altar of worship.
- Abafite Ikimenyetso by Tumaini Byinshi
This one comes at number ten. A great song with great lyrics. Reminding us about the fact that our work in Christ is not vain, and that the days of our reward are there.
“Those who changed many people during hard times are keeping for themselves a lot of wealth where rust does not reach.”
I think the writer of the song might be making reference to the Book of Daniel, Chapter 12:3, “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. “
But if you want to have a better view of how deeper this scripture can go, you start it from around Verse 2. A dazzling for a believer. See,
“Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.”
Very prophetic song, and it makes the list. Sing it with your soul lifted to God. You know the time is up, soon we shall see Our Lord and these songs of prophecy are somewhat timely for us now.
- Hembura by James and Daniella
A prayer, a very important prayer. You know, we get caught by fear that we will become weak and fall out of salvation. Is there anything as dreadful as falling out of salvation? I can say nothing is as dreadful. This song by the duet of James and Daniella poses a prayer to God: “Restore strength in us, it is You that we wait upon.”
Isn’t it a reminder to God of His Promise in Isaiah 40:31? “But those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
It also has a sweet word I find so lovely: “Hembura.” Correct me if I am wrong (I am not a native Kinyarwanda speaker), but I think this word is the same that is used to mean: resuscitating. And for me, one of the pictures that come to my mind in regard to resuscitation is that fast aid treatment given to a person that has nearly drowned, for example, mouth to mouth breathing (which is a very intimate kind of treatment given with compassion to revive a dying soul). Don’t we need God to resuscitate us? May He. We pray.
- Nabonye Umukunzi mwiza by Prayer House
This is a cover of the legendary “Nabonye Umukunzi Mwiza” hymn. This one was loaded on YouTube by Prayer House, I guess back in January 2020.
Someone can ask if this should be added on the 2020 list, since the hymn has always been there. I would say it should. These singers gave a very good meaning to this song in the version they did. And this should remind us that only a song is not enough – there should be ready singers who know what to do, and also they should create an environment where it is more about The Lord, not entertainment.
Watch it for yourself. However, if you really can learn something from me, you would even do better to just listen to it without watching the video. It assists you to focus on the meaning inside the song rather than the pictures of the singers and the physical setting.
- Uca Inzira El Shaddai Choir
This song is more of a translation from Travis Greene’s You Made A Way song, but that does not stop it from being a great Kinyarwanda worship song, and it will feature here on our top ten worship songs of 2020.
Arguably, some of the key qualities of a good worship song is that it should have real words that are heavily laden with meaning of who God is or what He has done. Second is that it should not be fast, honestly speaking – so that it should not take away the atmosphere of the spiritual (I mean it should create an aura where you are using more of your spirit than the body). And this song, we can say has these qualities.
Translated as “You Make A Way,” this Uca Inzira song reminds you of what God has done or does: making a way where there was is no way. When you are surrounded by problems and impossibilities. It can bring you to tears when you meditate on the fact that we can do nothing in our power, and that even salvation is not sure for us if we only trust in ourselves and in what we can do. But when you are reminded that He makes a way where it is not, you may be overcome with sobs of emotion giving Him the Glory for What He has sworn to do. He will make a way. Not because of who we are, but because of who He is.
- Narakijijwe by James and Daniella
A confession, that: “I was saved not by works but by faith.” You know something that is fascinating about faith is that we will glorify God for having saved us since our works cannot do it.
The song talks about Christ’s sacrifice and his triumph, noting that nothing can separate us from His Love. Indeed, what can separate us from His love? If he saved us with such a sacrifice, will he just let go of us?
Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
Romans 8: 38 to 39, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- Ntuhemuka by Jean Christian Irimbere
I love vertical songs; I mean songs that are written to talk to God directly or to address him. This one is an example of those. “As You were yesterday, is how You are today. You never change.”
Isn’t that an amazing fact to anchor our lives onto? It is God’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom, like Jesus said: “Fear not, little flock, for it hath pleased your Father to give you a kingdom.” Luke 12:32.
God can never tell lie in whatever He says. Hallelujah!
- Nzamura Gentil Misigaro and Fortran Bigirimana
Wow! A prayer song: “Raise me up above the mountains, dress me up in new clothes so that I can overcome all that hinder me.”
If you think about all your enemies including the flesh, the world, the devil and then you remember that God never fails, such a song maybe a treasure to you.
These are the days where we have to remember to call upon Him, ask Him to place us on high heights where the heroes of faith walked, so we can also win the victory.
Deuteronomy 32:13 “He (God) made him (Jacob) ride on the heights of the land and fed him with the fruit of the fields. He nourished him with honey from the rock, and with oil from the flinty crag.”
- Ndaje by Prosper Nkomezi and Gentil Misigaro
Another vertical song here. For me, it means a lot when a song is written in a way that the singer is addressing God directly. This is one of the qualities I notice in this song.
“I have given You my heart so that you come in, make me do what you want, make me your chamber.”
A great prayer.
- Umusaraba by Bosco Nshuti
This song has such a phenomenal refrain! The song is wonderful, but the refrain is even more!
To be honest, its refrain is one of the reasons why I put it here in this list.
The refrain goes: “I will boast in nothing else except the cross of my Lord Jesus which changed me to become a child of God.”
Try listening to this song, and pay extra attention to it. It is such an eye-opening confession, that nothing else really matters except the cross on which the Saviour gave us salvation. The melody and the slow way it goes can also give you time to think about the value of the cross of Jesus to your life.
- Narababariwe by Savant Ngira
It was not so easy to make this decision, but Savant Ngira’s Narababariwe comes first on the list. Great song. It is not vertical though! I wish the writer tried to make it vertical so that it would sound more like he was directly addressing God. But anyway, still it is a great, great song.
“I can’t stop shivering when I’m listening to this song,” says one comment on it on YouTube.
You know what, try it.
Then the rhythm of it, slow and fervent (if I am allowed to say).
I will write some lyrics of its first verse here and you see (English translation of the lyrics):
“I will always sing of the grace, His Love without boundaries
He died a terrible death on the cross despite his godliness
He found me sitting by the pit, only waiting for death.
He held me with love, I didn’t know where He had come from
When I looked up and recognized Him.”