The Taiwanese 台灣人 Tâi-Oân Lâng

Welcome to the Taiwanese Site! This is a collection of the stories of the past Taiwanese who had contributed to Taiwan in various aspects. We encourage readers' comments. Contact point, email contact at or ** Last Update April 26, 2012 **

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rev. Dr. Loh Sian-chhun 駱先春 牧師

Rev. Loh Sian-chhun, D.D. 駱先春 牧師

- A humble pastor
- A composer dedicated to church music
- One of the pioneers in the ministries to the Taiwanese aborigines
- Part of the 20th Century Miracle in Taiwan

If you are a Christian from Taiwan, chances are you may have sung one of Rev. Loh’s hymns (his first one: O Hear Us Our Most Holy Heavenly Father 至聖的天父,求你俯落聽 ) or heard about the stories of his two well known sons: î-jîn 維仁, an international known Biblical scholar, and î-tō 維道, a gifted church and folk musician. And in her article, the evangelical church musician Ms. Cheng (鄭敏熙) called Rev. Loh, “…a living history of the church music in Taiwan.”

You might have also heard the so called “Miracle of the 20th Century in Taiwan (二十世紀的神蹟)" within the world wide church circle. A handful of pastors had changed the way of life among the majority of the Taiwanese aborigines. The key figure was of course the Rev. Dr. James I. Dickson (孫雅各牧師 1900-1967) who, besides running the Taiwan Theological College, had established four presbyteries and 385 churches among the Taiwanese aborigines mostly in the eastern part of Taiwan, with the help of his former students like Rev. Loh Sian-Chhung, Rev. O’ Bûn-tî (胡文池牧師) among others.

With his outstanding musical talents (a fine singer, composer and musician who was interested in ethnic music of the tribal people) along with a solid theological education, Loh could have had a comfortable life teaching at the Tam Kang Middle School (淡江中學) or elsewhere. Instead, he chose to help the Taiwanese aborigines for most of his ministries.

Rev. Loh and family lived near poverty level during the years of World War II (the Loh’s family often survived with one-meal-a-day then.) Many years later, Dr. Loh î-jîn, Loh's third son, recalled the war time experience saying, "I could never forget the feeling of hunger..."

Like an old time missionary, Loh sensed God’s calling to serve the aborigines as early as 1928 while still a seminary student. In 1947, he gave up all his jobs and went to the East coast to serve the tribal people under the sponsorship of Rev. Dickson.

Loh's ministries, besides his involvement in church music, were areas that many ministers somehow tried to avoid: up in the mountains where basic comfortable life was considered a luxury. The work was long and hard as most of the aborigines communities were tightly closed to the outside world then. He traveled by a bicycle or on foot, up and down among the mountains and hills, helping everybody that he had encountered, either practically (such as free from tobacco and alcohol) or spiritually. Loh was very much disciplined in his religious life while warm and kind toward others.

Loh spent over 32 years in the Hymnal Committee of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, and was the editor of the 1936 hymnal. The Taiwanese hymnbooks have been since transformed from the collections of the all westernized hymns to a combination of the “East meet West” ones. The transformation of the hymnals is going strong, mainly through the work of Rev. Dr. Loh î-tō.

î-tō, Rev. Loh’s fourth son, might have inherited a lot of the music talents from his father. By researching folk music in many parts of Africa and Asia, î-tō has worked hard to find genuine voices of the Taiwanese and Asian neighbors in his various collections of hymns. Today î-tō is still actively working and teaching and leading seminars all over the world to promote the idea of melting the folk music and the Christian faith through the hymnals - well after his retirement as professor and the president of the Tainan Theological College/Seminary.
While denied renewal of his passport by the KMT authority, î-tō was unable to attend the memorial service of Rev. Loh early in 1984. î-tō instead sent back his composition of an anthem entitled, “I know that my Redeemer lives” in loving memory and celebration of his father’s new life in Christ. It is a wonderful combination of the beauty of the chorus of the Taiwanese mountains, rivers, trees, people, and the unshaken faith of the everlasting life.

For those who have come across Rev. Loh's hymns or path, would either respect him or love him, perhaps both. Loh’s hymns, both music and words, had demonstrated the beauty in the form of simplicity, gentleness, and the depth of his devotion to God. It would certainly be a miracle of the 21st century if only a few more Taiwanese Christians today are like Rev. Dr. Loh Sian-Chhun, not particularly with his musical legend but in his footsteps as a suffering servant.

Brief Biography of Rev. Loh Sian-Chhun:

· Born in Tam-Sui, Dec 15, 1905
· Graduated from Taiwan Theological College, 1931
· Advanced study at the Central Theological Seminary, Kobe, Japan 1931-1933
· Minister to Sin-Tek (新竹) Church, 1933
· Teaching at Tam-Kang Middle School (淡江中學) 1934
· Editor of the Presbyterian Church Hymnal Committee, 1935-1967
· Pastor of Sam-Kiap (三峽) church, 1937-1945
· Jailed (for 66 days) with Elder Tân (陳文贊) for their Christian faith, Dec 8, 1941
· Teaching at Tam-Kang Middle School, 1945-1947
· Full time itinerant pastor to various Taiwanese aborigines 1947-1967
· The hymnbook of Ami (阿美族語聖詩) published, 1958
· Honorable retired, 1967
· Awarded Doctor of Divinity Degree by the Taiwan Theological Seminary, 1982
· Passed away, Feb 28, 1984

Related websites/Sources:

-- Special thanks to Rev. Dr. Loh î-tō whose extensive editing has made this article possible.