Oku ʻi lalo he ngataʻangá ʻa e ongoongó ni he lea faka-Tongá
The Queen Mother of Tonga’s favourite hymn was revealed tonight as hundreds gathered in mourning to remember her in South Auckland.
It was the Free Wesleyan Church hymn 398 in which the lyrics were apparently written by late Dr James Egan Moulton in 1890s.
The hymn, known as “ʻOiau he ʻOfa ʻa e ʻOtua”, was sung tonight during the memorial service.
It is now performed in two different tunes, one of which was composed by Samuel Stanley (1767 – 1822), while Arthur Henry Mann (1850 – 1930) composed the other version.
The first line of the hymn tells listeners, in Tongan, about the great love God has given to all human beings.
In the first verse it says that that love “leads and follows me in front and back and on the left and right sides”.
The second verse refers to Jesus as he is in agony on the cross and compares him to someone without a place to live. Having that in mind, no one can explain how great Jesus “looked after me”, the hymn goes.
The third verse refers to Jesus and how he came to the world and prepared places for his people to rest.
The Queen Mother was regarded not just as a very significant royal figure, but also a very humane person that cared for and loved her people.
She was well known for her passion about providing assistance to those with disabilities.
Her willingness to establish a facility in Tonga for people with disabilities in the early 1980s saw the Ālonga Centre became the largest charity organisation to provide assistance to Tongans suffering from the effects of blindness, disfigurement, paralysis and mental disorders.
The Queen Mother’s initiative allowed Tongans with disabilities to receive special treatment in the kingdom from staff who were employed to look after patients 24 hours a day. A great deal of financial assistance for the programme was sourced from overseas donors.
The two-hour service this evening was attended by Princess Pilolevu Tuita, Princess Lātūfuipeka Angelika Mataʻaho Tukuʻaho, Hon. Sālote Maumautaimi Tukuʻaho as well as the royals’ immediate family.
The Queen’s coffin is currently resting at ‘Atalanga until next week when it will be flown back to Tonga.
Queen Mata’aho was a pianist and was very passionate about religious music.
Mourners were welcomed to the church by the Free Wesleyan Church president Dr ‘Ahio.
He asked that the people of Tonga pray for the royals at this time of sorrow.
About the hymn:
Dr Moulton, an English-born Missionary, composed hundreds of hymns during his time in Tonga.
When creating new hymns he would either translate the original lyrics from English to Tongan, or he would couple borrowed English music together with Tongan lyrics of his own creation
It was not immediately clear how Dr Moulton composed the 398 hymn and why.