Singing Yoruba Christianity
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175 pages

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Singing the same song is a central part of the worship practice for members for the Cherubim and Seraphim Christian Church in Lagos, Nigeria. Vicki L. Brennan reveals that by singing together, church members create one spiritual mind and become unified around a shared set of values. She follows parishioners as they attend choir rehearsals, use musical media—hymn books and cassette tapes—and perform the music and rituals that connect them through religious experience. Brennan asserts that church members believe that singing together makes them part of a larger imagined social collective, one that allows them to achieve health, joy, happiness, wealth, and success in an ethical way. Brennan discovers how this particular Yoruba church articulates and embodies the moral attitudes necessary to be a good Christian in Nigeria today.

Note on Language and Translation
1. Singing the Same Song
2. Onward Christian Soldiers
3. The Voice of the Spirit
4. Take Control
5. Straight to Heaven
6. In His Steps
7. Living in the Spirit
8. Show the Glory of God
Glossary of Yoruba Terms



Publié par
Date de parution 12 février 2018
Nombre de lectures 4
EAN13 9780253036025
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0500€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Patrick McNaughton, editor
Associate editors
Catherine M. Cole
Barbara G. Hoffman
Eileen Julien
Kassim Kon
D. A. Masolo
Elisha Renne
Z. S. Strother
Music, Media, and Morality
Vicki L. Brennan
This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press
Office of Scholarly Publishing
Herman B Wells Library 350
1320 East 10th Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47405 USA
2018 by Vicki L. Brennan
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The Association of American University Presses Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition.
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Brennan, Vicki L., author.
Title: Singing Yoruba Christianity : music, media, and morality / Vicki L. Brennan.
Other titles: African expressive cultures.
Description: Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 2018. | Series: African expressive cultures | Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2017018457| ISBN 9780253032072 (cl : alk. paper) | ISBN 9780253032096 (pb : alk. paper) | ISBN 9780253032089 (e-book)
Subjects: LCSH: Church music-Nigeria-Lagos. | Singing-Religious aspects-Christianity. | Singing-Social aspects-Nigeria-Lagos. | Yoruba (African people)-Nigeria-Lagos-Music-History and criticism. | Yoruba (African people)-Nigeria-Lagos-Religion. | Cherubim and Seraphim Church Movement.
Classification: LCC ML3151.N547 L34 2018 | DDC 782.2209669-dc23 LC record available at
1 2 3 4 5 23 22 21 20 19 18
In Memory of
B b I. K. Dairo, M.B.E .
Note on Language and Translation
1 Singing the Same Song
2 Onward Christian Soldiers
3 The Voice of the Spirit
4 Take Control
5 Straight to Heaven
6 In His Steps
7 Living in the Spirit
8 Show the Glory of God
Glossary of Yoruba Terms
I VISITED THE Cherubim and Seraphim Ay ni o Church in Lagos on the first full day of my first visit to Nigeria in 2001. Though I was headed for Ibadan, where I intended to scout out potential sites for my dissertation research on religion, music, and urban experience, I was taken to the Lagos compound of the Ay ni o Church by my host, who earlier that day had informed me that the center of Cherubim and Seraphim music was not in Ibadan but in Lagos. Jet-lagged and a bit groggy from my travels, I nevertheless agreed to visit the church before leaving for Ibadan. After a whirlwind tour of Lagos, made possible because there was little traffic on the road that Sunday morning, we pulled off of the Oshodi- Apapa Express Road and slowed down to enter the church compound. Our first stop was at the gatehouse to collect a tally from a smiling man wearing an orange safety vest over his white prayer gown, who greeted us with a hearty Ay ni o! (It is joy!).
We drove into a compound filled with dozens of churchgoers wearing their white church uniforms and clutching Bibles. They were all rushing to enter the already packed church building to attend the service that had already begun. Music blared from loudspeakers positioned on the corners of the buildings, broadcasting what was happening inside the church to all those that were outside. We parked the car just outside of the building that was marked as housing the Church Secretary s office and, slipping our shoes off, we walked through the sandy compound toward the door. A churchgoer stopped us, asked us what our interest was, and after explaining our purposes we were directed to the Public Affairs Unit. After introducing ourselves, we were ushered into a carpeted room with sofas lining the walls. Pictures of Jesus, the Last Supper, and elders in the Cherubim and Seraphim Church-including one of Prophet G. O. Fakeye, the general leader of the Ay ni o Church-were hung on the walls of the room. We sat for a moment while someone was sent to bring soft drinks for us and listened to the broadcast of the service that was taking place in the church. Boisterous music could be heard, featuring sung choruses, drums, and guitars. As I learned later I had arrived during the offering portion of the service.
The public affairs officer echoed my friend s assertions that the Ay ni o Church was the center of Cherubim and Seraphim music and strongly suggested that my research would be better served by studying his church s choir. They have many, many cassettes available, he explained, They are at the forefront of gospel music in Nigeria today. I indicated that I had made plans that required that I stay in Ibadan, but would try to see if I could fit in another visit to Lagos during the six weeks I would be in Nigeria. The public affairs officer recommended some of their sister churches that I could visit in Ibadan, and said that when I came back to Lagos, he would make arrangements so that I could interview the church s General Leader Prophet Fakeye.
On the drive to Ibadan that day I quizzed my friend Toyin about the Ay ni o Church choir: Was she familiar with their music? What could she tell me about Fakeye? Were there other Cherubim and Seraphim churches as large as the one we had just visited? Was there a church like that in Ibadan? Toyin, who attended a Pentecostal church, answered my questions patiently, and although she admitted that she was a bit suspicious of some of the smaller Cherubim and Seraphim churches, she was confident that Fakeye was a true Christian and a man of God. Later that week she confided that although she wanted me to do my research in Ibadan so that I would stay with her, she also thought I should do my research with the Ay ni o Church choir because their music was really the best. She took me to a cassette vendor who specialized in gospel music so that I could buy some of the Ay ni o Church choir s cassettes, in order to familiarize myself with their songs. There were ten recordings by the choir for sale, and after I asked him which one was his favorite, I purchased that along with their latest release.
It was based on this experience that I intended to focus my research on the Ay ni o Church in Lagos when I returned for a longer field trip in January 2002. However, it was six months before I received permission from church leadership to join the choir. During those six months I lived in Ibadan and visited a number of churches in that city and its surrounding locations. My time during this period was not limited to the sister churches that the public affairs officer had recommended, nor solely to Cherubim and Seraphim churches. Instead I visited a variety of congregations, including a number of Yoruba independent (Aladura) churches, orthodox (Methodist and Anglican churches), and Pentecostal churches (Foursquare, Redeem). This research in Ibadan was a good contrast to my future research in Lagos, as it helped me to better understand Yoruba Christianity and the negotiations between various Christian denominations in a different urban setting than that of Lagos.
Living in Ibadan also gave me a good perspective on the kinds of urban experiences to be had in Nigeria. Ibadan was a stark contrast from Lagos, and most people distinguished the two by noting that Ibadan was dull, slow, quiet, or peaceful. Although these words do not precisely describe the nature of urban life in Ibadan which, like most cities, has a distinctive hustle and noise, they do help to place Ibadan in contrast to Lagos, a city like no other. Not only is the urban experience multiplied exponentially in Lagos, but the cosmopolitan nature of the city was quite distinct. English, Pidgin, and Yoruba remained the most commonly spoken languages in the city, but people from all over Nigeria, and indeed all over Africa called Lagos their home. Furthermore, the expatriate population in Lagos was significantly larger than that in Ibadan, and Mercedes-Benz cars and Toyota Rav 4s containing families from India, Lebanon, the United States, and Europe were scattered throughout traffic, their homes clustered in certain areas of the city.
The sense of familiarity and openness palpable on the streets of Ibadan did not obtain in Lagos. This was brought home to me one day when my roommate, a Yoruba woman who attended a Pentecostal church, teased me because every morning as we left the compound I greeted the woman who ran a small kiosk selling household goods at the gate. Do you know her? she asked me. When I explained that in Ibadan it seemed as though one greeted strangers as a matter of course-particularly those who were part of one s everyday routine-she laughed and said, I forgot that you just came from the village. Indeed, the famous Yoruba greetings were still required to open transactions or conversations as one went about one s daily business; yet they took on a more terse nature in Lagos, used in a perfunctory manner except when greeting one s friends or family. Lagos, as many Nollywood films depict, could be isolating and alienating, with little time for the niceties of life as everyone scrambled to make a living.
Once established in Lagos I visited the Ay ni o Church a number

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