Original Research

Music in Christian worship in Nigeria in light of early missionary attitude

Solomon O. Ademiluka
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 44, No 1 | a2796 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v44i1.2796 | © 2023 Solomon O. Ademiluka | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 December 2022 | Published: 05 July 2023

About the author(s)

Solomon O. Ademiluka, Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, Faculty of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa; and, Department of Religious Studies, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Kogi State University, Anyigba, Nigeria

Abstract

When the protestant Christian missionaries arrived in Nigeria in the 19th century, they disallowed native music as well as the use of musical instruments in the church because of the fear that these would encourage their converts to retain their heathen practices. However, today the solemn congregational hymns they introduced have been either supplemented or replaced with vibrant instrumental music in most churches. The article investigated the reasons why the missionaries banned instrumental music and assessed whether the musical innovations made by Nigerian Christians have hindered or helped the growth of Christianity. Applying the reader-oriented and phenomenological approaches, the article found that phases of musical adaptations in terms of indigenous genres, instruments and traditional and modern dance modes were introduced principally through the youth fellowship groups, indigenous choirs, the Aladura and the Neo-Pentecostal churches. While some critics have argued against these innovations, they have been found to have biblical support, particularly in the psalms. Among other advantages, the indigenous adaptations enhance interest in worship and cater for preferential musical tastes among worshippers. Most churches have come to value the new musical genres so much that they no longer can do without them during worship. Therefore, instrumental music has helped the growth and development of the church in Nigeria in several ways.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This research involves both the Old and New Testaments as well as Christian music. It holds that rather than being a hindrance to the Christian faith in Nigeria, instrumental music has helped its growth tremendously.


Keywords

Christianity in Nigeria; music in the history of the church; music in worship; instrumental music; Aladura churches.

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