Abana alathi fi ssama (Abana in Heaven)

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

God’s children are taught to think of the Lord’s Prayer as the model for prayer. Belgic Confession, Article 26 teaches us that “we call on the heavenly Father through Christ, our only Mediator, as we are taught by the Lords’ Prayer...” Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 45, Question and Answer 118 teaches that we should pray for “everything we need, spiritually and physically, as embraced in the prayer Christ our Lord himself taught us” and then spends seven Lord’s Days expounding on the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. 


Abana alathi fi ssama (Abana in Heaven)

Additional Prayers

Loving God, faithful provider,
give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who have sinned against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Yours is the glory now and forever.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

Abana alathi fi ssama (Abana in Heaven)

Tune Information

a minor


Musical Suggestion

  • Do not rush—feel the 4 beats internally and do not cut the first tied half note short of its value.
  • Be sure to note that all sections are repeated except the 3rd section and the last section. This song’s form could be summarized: A-A, B-B, C, D-D, E.
  • This version of the Lord’s Prayer starts softly and builds with each section. The final section is the Amen, and because of its low register brings the volume down again. 
— Diane Dykgraaf

Abana alathi fi ssama (Abana in Heaven)

Hymn Story/Background

This setting of the Lord’s Prayer is known by Arabic Christians throughout the Middle East.  A Christian Reformed pastor, visiting a Palestinian orphanage for boys in Bethlehem,  heard them singing this setting from memory before going to bed.  He was so moved he told me about it, and I finally got a copy of the music from an Egyptian hymnal which came to us from Anne Zaki, a graduate of Calvin College and Seminary who currently teaches at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt, her home country.  We served together with Greg Scheer in preparing it for Global Songs for Worship (2010).  When it was published, Anne sang this prayer in Arabic and everyone joined in repeating it in English at the 2011 Calvin Symposium on Worship.  Afterwards a woman expressed through tears that this was the first time she had ever heard the Arabic language except in a negative context on the news. 
Sing this prayer as a gift from and intercession for our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Middle East. (Note the song number, a coincidental but poignant reminder of a terrible day in 2001 in New York City.) 
— Emily Brink

Author Information

Anne Zaki is a professor of theology, worship, and spiritual formation at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt, and frequent international speaker. She is also continuing Program Affiliate with the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, where she worked for several years before returning to her home country in 2011.
Anne grew up in Cairo, Egypt, in a pastor's home. Since her teen years, she has been involved in various teaching and leading ministries. At age 16 she was selected by the Egyptian Government to represent Egypt in an international school in Western Canada dedicated to peace and international understanding worldwide. Two years later Anne came to Calvin College seeking a liberal arts Christian education to help her integrate her Christian faith and her social justice convictions.
Her areas of interests include travel and learning about the different cultural influences on the church worldwide, creating new ministries, mentoring youth, and administration. Her husband is Naji Umran.  They are the parents of four sons, Jonathan, Sebastian, Emmanuel, and Alexander.
Anne received her Bachelors degree from Calvin College in Psychology and Sociology in 1999, a Masters degree from The American University in Cairo in the field of Social Psychology in 2002, and her Master's of Divinity from Calvin Theological Seminary in 2009.
— CICW Website Bio (http://www.calvin.edu/worship)

Composer Information

Greg Scheer (b. 1966) has composed hundreds of pieces, songs and arrangements. His music is published by Augsburg Fortress, GIA, Abingdon Press, Worship Today, Faith Alive and in numerous hymnals. He has won commissions from the Iowa Choral Directors Association, Iowa Composers Forum, Linn-Mar High School String Orchestra, Chagall String Quartet and Northwestern College. His electronic piece, "Crossfade," was included on the CD ...from everlasting to everlasting... His string quartet "6" was featured on WQED in Pittsburgh and was also a winning composition in the 2000 Southeastern Composers' Symposium. His hymn "People of the Lord" won the Calvin09 hymn contest and was subsequently sung and published internationally.
— Greg Scheer

Author and Composer Information

Lily Constantine was born in 1959 in Bikfaya, Lebanon , the daughter of a first generation evangelical minister. She began composing songs soon after giving her life to Christ at age ten.  She wrote: “Without any musical training. I composed a few songs and loved singing throughout my years until about 2010 when I went to Jordon with a few of my friends and recorded 32 songs written and composed by some godly Christian artists. Each wrote a reflection/devotional or history around the song he/she composed, and a very nice book with 2 CDs was created. The CD's first song was ‘ABANA’ which was one of the first songs that I put the music to. After I came back from Jordan I went for some testing and a chest x-ray showed a huge tumor on my esophagus. I went through extensive testing and after a very difficult surgery, my vocal chords were severed and I lost my voice as a result with the removal of the tumor. Still, my lips will continue to whisper, and my spirit celebrates the goodness of our God. Because surely in His presence there is fullness of joy.”  Lily Constantine Kakish received an MBA in Healthcare Administration at Western Governors University in Salt Lake City, and now lives with her family in Mobile, Alabama, where she has two clinical trial centers. 
— Emily Brink

Emily Ruth Brink (b. 1940, Grand Rapids, MI) graduated from Calvin College (BA in Music), the University of Michigan (MM in Church Music) and Northwestern University, Evanston, IL (PhD in Music Theory). She taught at Manhattan (Montana) Christian School (1964-1966), the State University of New York (New Paltz; 1966-1967), Trinity Christian College (Palos Heights, IL; 1967-1972), and the University of Illinois (Campaign/Urbana; 1974-1983), also serving as organist and choir director in both Episcopal and Christian Reformed churches in those areas.

In 1977 she was appointed to the Psalter Hymnal Revision Committee, and in 1983 moved to Grand Rapids in a change of careers to become the first music and worship editor of the Christian Reformed Church. She was the founding editor of Reformed Worship; editor of the Psalter Hymnal (1987), Songs for LiFE (1994), Sing! A New Creation (2001, 2002); co-editor with Bert Polman of The Psalter Hymnal Handbook (1998), and editor of many other worship-related publications. Since 1984 she has been an adjunct professor at Calvin Theological Seminary, directing the seminary choir in the first years, and introducing courses on church music and worship before being granted emeritus status in 2009. 

Her ecumenical work began with the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, becoming the first woman president (1990-1992); in 2006 she was named a Fellow of the society in recognition of distinguished services to hymnody and hymnology. She served in both local and national offices of the American Guild of Organists, and has been a member for more than twenty years of the Consultation on Common Texts, serving as chair from 2008 to 2014.

In 2002, she became a Senior Research Fellow at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, contributing to The Worship Sourcebook and other publications; serving as program chair of the annual Symposium on Worship; and helping to plan and participate in worship conferences in more than fifteen countries. 
— Emily Brink

Song Notes

February 24, 2000 is a historic date, because Pope Paul II was the first head of the Roman Catholic Church to visit Cairo. He was given the warmest welcome from President Mubarak and his cabinet. Also, 20,000 people from different denominations and religions welcomed him with flags and banners of welcome.  I was in my home in Boston, where I was living at the time, and watching this event on TV with my pastor, relatives and friends.  To my shock, I saw and heard that all the people in Cairo were singing my setting of the Lord’s Prayer.  I was humbled and began to weep heavily, and proceeded to mark this time—the date and the hour—when I witnessed this.  I was so overcome with emotion that I again began to compose a song using words of Jesus Christ. 
I was not a great composer, and didn’t study music. I was a simple teenage girl, without any qualifications in the structure of music composition. I sat at a piano in the evening and through the cold night, and I was able to come up with this tune for the Lord’s Prayer. The tune was flowing from my heart which is full of God’s love. 
That moment in 2000 reminded me of the young boy who gave five loaves of bread and two fish to Jesus, which was all that he had.  Yet they were used to feed five thousand men, and this doesn’t dinclude women and children. In 1 Corinthians 1:19-20, 26-29, God speaks through the apostle Paul:
For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; and the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate” [Isaiah 29:14].  Where are the wise? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age?...Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential, not many were of noble birth. But God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. [TNIV]
Yes, before ability God requires readiness of heart. Yes, come, my friend, meditate.  Do not say what you are, but here you are.  
— Lily Constantine Kakish

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