KABARAK CHAPEL: The lyrical ‘brown church in the vale’

Former President Daniel arap Moi addresses the congregation at the AIC Kabarak Chapel in 2001. [File, Standard]
Soft, slow, symphonic coos pierce through the humongous AIC Kabarak Chapel, signalling the morning worship session. The mellow hymns emanating from the chapel are soothingly unrivalled - well choreographed worship songs.

Here, even bells do not disturb hundreds of students who swarm the church on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays for praise and worship sessions. They are programmed. They do not step in a minute late. “It is just discipline, morals and respect that guides the students. They stick to the rules and do not come in a minute late.

Not every song is sung here. We vet the songs,” Moi High School-Kabarak Chaplain, Reverend Paul Ombati, said. The massive chapel is, however, devoid of comfy seats. It remains the lyrical “brown church in the vale” with its humbling ancient long wooden benches. The pews take up to 2,000 congregants. The wide array of instruments on the pulpit tell a rich tale of music that has grown over the years, giving the school a cutting edge, an unrivalled position in churning out charming hymns.

The chapel, which was built in 1991, tells the history of morals, the spiritual growth and value of biblical teachings and hymns among 1,400 students in the school. Here is where former President Daniel Moi worshipped and instilled punctuality that punctuates the sessions to date. “Our patron, the former President, was always punctual and once he stepped into the church, the doors were closed. This virtue, to date, has remained unedited. Those worshiping here keep time and no one comes in late,” Dr Ombati says.

Students do not go to the chapel unkempt. They do not step in with indecent clothing and are not allowed to sing songs merely because they are gospel music. Music is vetted and only approved songs - mainly hymns - are sung. “We value morals and do not allow anything that will compromise the values of what we teach. When the school was started, it aimed at boosting both academic and spiritual growth and nourishment among the students to enhance moral uprightness,” Ombati added. Only songs that sound theologically right and are in line with the doctrines of the church are allowed.

“There are so many songs that do not qualify and that also fail to meet theological criteria and can be misleading. Most hymns, however, do not have the connotations that mislead and produce quality sound. Hymns also promote the beautiful rich sounds that promote quality,” he said. The praise and worship sessions usually start from 6.30am through to 7am. On Wednesdays, a student takes charge and preaches in the morning session while Thursday mornings are reserved for only hymns.

On Friday, a staff member takes charge of the session. Stressing on quality hymns, Ombati said, is a way of preserving Moi’s love for music and more so hymns. “Our patron always loved hymns and he insisted the school should remain mixed because he valued the combination of voices to produce quality music, more so the hymns,” he says. Over the years, the evolution of hymns in the church has made it secure a special place with the local community joining students during worship sessions. This has helped mould a number of choirs both from the community and the school.

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“Everyone worships here; students from primary all through to the university, the sta­ and the community as well. There are different sessions on Sundays which features choir presentations from students and the local community,” Ombati said.

The praise and worship sessions are must-attend for all students, regardless of religion. Before joining the institution the learners and parents are briefed on the doctrines of the school to avoid inconveniencies. “We, however, do not change the religion students who are not Christians but we strictly stick to the rules,” Ombati explained.

One of the long-serving teachers, Samuel Okumu, said inculcating religious teachings has played a key role in taming indiscipline in the school and in boosting integrity and punctuality among both sta­ and students. “The religious doctrines have played a key role in moulding morally-upright individuals. In Kabarak, we are guided through these values and teachings that have greatly moulded us to be the role models,” he said.

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AIC Kabarak ChapelKabarak ChapelPresident Daniel Moi