As has been previously mentioned, the Christian Church is often blamed for upholding oppression, particularly racial oppression. Another criticism of the Church in modern-day South Africa is that little to no attempt has been made to transform the Church from this Western and by nature, exclusive entity, to an inclusive one.

One only has to attend one 9:30am Sunday service at the Cathedral to see just how racially diverse the congregation is.

If one looks at the clergy, it is evident that some sort of transformation has taken place as 75% of the clergy is made up of people of colour, with the remaining 25% being made up of white people.

Revd Siphokazi Njokweni, Revd Canon Dr Claire Nye Hunter, Dean Andrew Hunter, Sub-Dean Mzi Dyantyi, Revd Luthando Madiba

Photo: Sourced.

One of the main ways in which the Grahamstown Cathedral has attempted to be more inclusive of people of varying races and ethnicities is to include a number of Southern African languages in the services.

The liturgical language; the language spoken for the Greeting, Passing of the Peace and the Dismissal, is different for each service, and includes a number of African languages, such as isiXhosa, isiZulu and Shona, to name a few. In more recent weeks, the litergical language has included Yoruba from Nigeria.

The Cathedral has a number of different settings, and for the month in which I was working with them, the setting was the Lumko setting, which is in isiXhosa and led by the Marimba Band. Another setting which is used is the New Mass Setting, which is made up of isiXhosa, Afrikaans and seSotho, and was written by the previous Director of Music, Dr Andrew John Bethke.

In the Lumko setting, the Kyrie is in isiXhosa:


Nkosi, Nkosi, yiba nenceba kuthi

Krestu, Krestu, yiba nenceba kuthi    

Nkosi, Nkosi, yiba nenceba kuthi       

Lord have mercy upon us

Christ have mercy upon us

Lord have mercy upon us

The Sanctus (Holy, Holy Holy) is sung in either isiXhosa or English.


Ungcwele, ungcwele!

Nkosi Thixo wemikhosi.

Izulu nomhlaba zizele luzuko lwakho 

Hosana, Hosana! Hosana enyangweni.

Makadunyise ozayo egameni leNkosi           

Holy, holy, holy Lord!

God of power and might.

Heaven and earth are full of your glory!

Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

The Great Amen (called Masithi Amen, meaning let’s say amen) is in isiXhosa and seSotho:



Masithi: Amen, siyakudumisa            

Masithi: Amen, Bawo, Amen, Bawo  

Amen, siyakudumisa. 


Ha re re: Amen rea u rorisa

Ha re re: Amen, Ntate’, Amen, Ntate’,

Amen rea u rorisa.   

Let us sing: Amen we praise you!

Amen, Father

Amen we praise you.

Let us sing: Amen we praise you!

Amen, Father

Amen we praise you.

Lastly, the Agnus Dei is in isiXhosa:


Mvana ka Thixo, wen’ usus’ izono zehlabathi: yiba nenceba kuthi   

Mvana ka Thixo, wen’ usus’ izonan zehlabathi: siphe uxolo lwakho

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, grant us peace

Kutlwano Tsekiso Setchaba Kepadisa gives his opinion about the transformation and decolonisation within the Cathedral space:

However, when discussing transformation within the church, one cannot gloss over the inherent patriarchy within the church as a whole. It is a topic which needs to be grappled with by many churches across the world.

Reverend Siphokazi Njokweni discusses her journey as a female priest in the Anglican Church and specifically within the Grahamstown Cathedral:


Another highly important issue which is slowly being addressed in the church is that of homosexuality; whether same-sex couples are welcome in the church, and whether same-sex couples are able to be married within the church space.

Dean Andrew Hunter addresses this issue, specifically in relation to the Grahamstown Diocese and the Grahasmtown Cathedral:

In light of the acts of Gender Based Violence and xenophobia in the week of 1 September – 7 September 2019, the Cathedral decided to have congregation members process with the clergy at the beginning of the service, holding posters condemning this violence. These posters were then stuck up on the outer walls of the Cathedral building, so that passers by can see that the Cathedral stands in solidarity with those who have fallen victim of Gender Based Violence and xenophobia.
Photo: Sarah James.
Photo: Sarah James.
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