Christian Music is more prevalent in Nigeria than any other type of music, even more, popular than the secular alternative. Gospel music artists enjoy a very loyal following, and their music is often played everywhere.
When you hear Christian music, the first thing that comes to mind is the organ played in churches, monks chanting Gregorian or nuns singing in chorus.
Perhaps there is some truth in this common everyday image; however, it probably isn’t waterproof if you ask theologians or historians.
Christian Music in Nigeria is the most popular form of music, and it is readily available everywhere.
In today’s time, modern influences have given rise to Gospel, Contemporary Christian Music, Southern Gospel, and Country like versions, Christian rock, pop, metal, punk, hip hop, and variations thereof.
These would denote the genres of today. With a historical background (considering church and movements), there are hymns, Gregorian chant, antiphons, and psalmody. Two of these sound familiar to me, a third I might guess, but there is still some research to do.
The gospel music genre in Nigeria can be described as a mixture of the traditional gospel hymns sung by choirs and the modern one’s sand by the youth and local artists.
The modern songs are a fusion of blues and jazz that has drawn inspiration from the traditional and contemporary Nigerian music.
History of Christian Music In Nigeria
The earliest Christian music to be recorded in Nigeria was in the 16th century when Portuguese catholic missionaries who were spreading their evangelical gospel to the Benin and Warri used music as part of this gospel between 1485 and 1600.
Without historical deviations, it can be said that today’s Christian music here belongs within the Catholic Church, sung at Mass and in the choir.
When you jump to 1930 to the 60 eras, the music is tied to two popular musicians at the era, Ransome-Kuti, and Harcourt-Whyte.
Their melodies hymn variations that were quickly translated to many vernacular languages spanned multi-generational gospel music artists that lasted through the 70 and ’80s.
The ’90s and 2000s brought a music genre that was heavily influenced by the American televangelism and Pentecostal scene. Artists like Onos Brisibe, Broda Martyns, and Ese Agenes and many others populated the gospel scene, which also ushered in Christian music’s popularity, leading to many secular artists switching to the gospel.
By the turn of the 2000 and the new millennium, the gospel music genre had taken root in Nigeria, and the Christian music genre was finally on top. Investment flowed into the industry.
Churches and their ministries realized the power of music and started investing in top-level instruments and training of the budding gospel musicians and the youth. Gospel concerts became a serious business.
This era gave birth to today’s most popular Nigerian gospel artists like TY Bello, Onyedikachi Umeh, rapper Bouqui, Nikki Laoye, and Lanre Teriba, and Yinka Ayefele.
The Biggest Influencers of Christian Music In Nigeria
The Church Hymnal
Antiphonic GC music can be described as antiphonic. Antiphonic would denote two choirs enjoined different (or alternating) segments/part to sing, connecting the two choirs in the same performance.
Antiphonic performance is believed to stem from communion used by ancient Israelites. This notion did not exist at the time. The reason it made its way into the Christian faith is found in the work of Socrates. According to him, the front figure was Ignatius of Antioch, who had an epiphany, in which he had seen angels sing in the antiphonic style. This gave birth to your catholic hymnal that’s popular today with the Catholic Church and its offshoots.
A subvariation is named polychoral antiphony (an inherent trait of Venetian school music, and came to life in the late Renaissance. It continued into late Baroque. And famous composers for this style include Igor Stravinsky, Hector Berlioz, and Karlheinz Stockhausen.) Antiphonic music is also adopted within today’s Anglican Church.
Psalmody Psalms stem directly from the Bible, where songs are picked from verses of the Book of Psalms.
The better known include Psalm 23, The Lord is my Shepard; 103, Bless the Lord, O my soul; 51, Have mercy on me O God (Miserere in Latin version). 137.
The Rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, is aimed at slavery and played during Lent.
Eastern Orthodox churches have incorporated psalms into a standardized method of praying.
The total of 150 psalms is split into 20 separate sections. Each called a Kathisma (translated as sitting). The Kathisma, in its turn, is made up of tree stasis (translated as standing).
Kathismata is recited during important days of the year. Less stringent Christians read one khatisma a day on working days, with the whole book completed in four weeks.
Top 20 Christian Songs in Nigeria in 2020
Below are the top twenty Christian and gospel songs that you can listen to in Nigeria in 2020
- Dr. Paul Enenche – Owner Of My Life ft. Glory Dome Choir
- Jahdiel – The Oh How I Love You ft. Eben
- Samsong – Jesus ft. Mercy Chinwo
- Steve Crown – Eze Nara Ekel
- Frank Edwards – Chioma (Afro Vibe)
- Mercy Chinwo – Incredible God
- Dr. Paul Eneche – I Will Praise You
- Sinach – Peace In The Storm
- David Aina – Amen Praise
- Preye Odede – For My Good
- Samuel Kenneth – Glorious
- GUC – Knowing You
- Prospa Ochimana – Dojima N’wojo ft. Abigail Omonu
- Odumeje – Umu Jesus ft. Flavor
- Solomon Lange – You Have Done Me Very Well Album
- ScholaPraise – Shekinah Glory
- Tomi Favoured – Jehovah
- Tobi Jeff Richards – Oba ft A’dam
- Pastor Paul Enenche – With You Lord Ft. Micah Stampley & Bishop Paul
- Elijah Oyelade – No Limit
All in all, I believe most Nigerians share common and truthful ideas about Christian music. For the laity or non-musicians, the music is beloved because of its uplifting melody.
And it’s a guilt-free listening for the commoner, who might be scared of going to church. The music is trendy as upcoming gospel artists outnumber the secular counterparts two to one. Moreover, it is common to see secular artists put out gospel songs.