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This thesis is a study of church music in Egbemaland between 1938 and 2014. Egbema comprises of several towns and villages in Edo and Delta States of Nigeria. The work examines the use of musical instruments in the churches (whether traditional or Western) and the religious music repertoire since the advent of Christianity in the area. The objectives of the study were to investigate the usage and roles of indigenously derived music in the churches in Egbemaland; identify the differences and similarities in the purpose and application of music in the various churches in the period under review; highlight the contributions of music to the growth of churches in Egbemaland; discuss the appropriateness and effectiveness of indigenously derived music in the worship of churches in the area; identify the textual, poetic and structural features of the music; analyze the textual, contextual and theological contents of the music; and transcribe and present the music in staff notation. The research design employed the historical, descriptive and hermeneutical methods. The researcher, employing the historical method, used both quantitative and qualitative variables in the collection of historical information from primary and secondary sources. The descriptive research method was used to derive the characteristics of the phenomenon being studied. The hermeneutical method was used in the interpretation and analysis of the texts of the repertoire. A total of thirty churches, amongst which are Orthodox, Pentecostal and Organization of African Indigenous Churches made up the population for the study. A combination of both the stratified and cluster sampling techniques was employed. The investigation established that church music in Egbemaland had both differences and similarities which existed in the choral and congregational singing and instrumental groups. It found that the interest, expression, vitality and value which music adds to worship contributed to the growth of the churches in Egbemaland. It further established that more indigenously derived music is appropriate and effective in the religious worship of the Christian churches in the area. It identified call and response, solo and chorus, verse and refrain, strophe and round as vocal forms. It established that the

Period of Foundation (1938-1963) saw the emergence of the first Christian Churches in Egbemaland with very solemn, cold, sparse and minimal use of music. It also established that the Period of Nationalism (1963-1988) saw the beginning of translation and transliteration of English hymns into the Ijaw language for worship. It further established that the Period of Interculturalism (1988-2014) saw a blend of indigenously derived music with the music of other cultures. The study has provided a novel body of scholarly information on the structural features of indigenously derived church music in Egbemaland. It has also enhanced the development of sacred musicology through the interpretation of musico-theological elements in the church music in Egbemaland. The musical transcriptions in the study have added new insights to the corpus of Nigerian indigenous music. Recommendation is made for churches in a homogenous setting like Egbema, to employ more indigenous music in their worship services and activities and to also use more of the local language than any other.


Table of Contents

Title page                    ..                      ..                      ..                      ..          i

Declaration                 ..                      ..                      ..                      ..          ii

Certification                ..                      ..                      ..                      ..          iii

Dedication                   ..                      ..                      ..                      ..          iv

Acknowledgements     ..                      ..                      ..                      ..          v

Abstract                       ..                      ..                      ..                      ..          ix

Table of Contents        ..                      ..                      ..                      ..          x

List of Maps                                                                                                                          ..

List of Examples         ..                      ..                      ..                      ..          xvi

List of Figures             ..                      ..                      ..                      ..          xvii


1.1       Background of the Study                   ..

1.2       Statement of the Problem       ..                      ..                      ..          2

1.3       Objectives of the Study           ..                      ..                      ..          4

1.4       Scope of the Study                  ..                      ..                      ..          4

1.5       Significance of the Study        ..                      ..                      ..          6

1.6       Research Questions                ..                      ..                      ..          7


1.7       A Brief Historical Background to Egbemaland                     ..          7



2.0       Overview        ..                      ..                      ..                      ..          13

2.1       Key Concepts ..                      ..                      ..                      ..          13

2.1.1 History              ..                      ..                      ..                      ..          13

2.1.2 Study                ..                      ..                      ..                      ..          15

2.1.3 Community      ..                      ..                      ..                      ..          17

2.1.4 Land                  ..                      ..                      ..                      ..          17

2.1.5 Church              ..                      ..                      ..                      ..          18

2.1.6 Christianity                               ..                      ..                      ..          20

2.1.7 Worship            ..                      ..                      ..                      ..          22

2.1.8 Music               ..                      ..                      ..                      ..          23

2.2       Christian Music                      ..                      ..                      ..          29

2.3       Nature of Church Music         ..                      ..                      ..          30

2.3.1    Church Music as God’s Gift                           ..                      ..          30

2.3.2 Church Music as Healer           ..                      ..                      ..          30

2.3.3    Church Music as Pastoral Care                      ..                      ..          32

2.3.4    Church Music as Offering      ..                      ..                      ..          32

2.3.5    Church Music as Cultural Reinforcement      ..                      ..          33

2.3.6    Church Music as Prayer         ..                      ..                      ..          33

2.3.7 Church Music as Divine Encounter                 ..                      ..          34

2.3.8    The Power of the Christian Song                    ..                      ..          35

2.4       Roles of Church Music           ..                      ..                      ..          36

2.4.1 Church Music as Priest            ..                      ..                      ..          37

2.4.2 Church Music as Prophet         ..                      ..                      ..          37

2.4.3 Church Music as Proclaimer                            ..                      ..          39

2.4.4    Church Music as Christian Education            ..                      ..          41


2.4.5    Church Music as Divine, Human and Emotional

Expression                              ..                      ..                      ..          43

2.4.6 Church Music as Emotional Impression          ..                      ..          44

2.4.7 Church Music as Pleasure        ..                      ..                      ..          44

2.4.8 Church Music as Communication                   ..                      ..          45

2.4.9 Church Music as a Unifying Factor                 ..                      ..          46

2.5       Theoretical Framework          ..                      ..                      ..          47


3.0       Overview        ..                      ..                      ..                      ..          50

3.1       Historical Method                   ..                      ..                      ..          50

3.2       Descriptive Method                ..                      ..                      ..          51

3.3       Hermeneutical Method           ..                      ..                      ..          52

3.4       Study Population                    ..                      ..                      ..          52

3.5       Sample and Sampling Technique                   ..                      ..          60

3.6       Method of Data Collection     ..                      ..                      ..          60

3.6.1    Instruments for Data Collection                     ..                      ..          60

3.6.2    Interviews       ..                      ..                      ..                      ..          61

3.6.3    Life Histories and Biographies                       ..                      ..          61

3.6.4    Observation     ..                      ..          ..          ..          ..          ..          62

3.6.5    Library Sources                      ..                      ..                      ..          62

3.7       Method of Data Analysis        ..                      ..                      ..          63


4.2.4  Dance Styles……………………………………………………………………………………………. 109

4.2.5  Repertoire for Performance……………………………………………………………………….. 110

4.2.6  Language for Performance………………………………………………………………………… 111

4.2.7  Performance Contexts………………………………………………………………………………. 112

4.2.8  Performance Excesses………………………………………………………………………………. 115

Application of Music in Different Churches…………………………………………………………. 117


4.0       Overview                                           ..                                                                     ..

4.1       Evolution of Church Music in Egbemaland                           ..          64

4.1.1    The First Stage: The Period of Foundation                            ..          65

4.1.2    The Second Stage: The Period of Nationalization                 ..          69

4.1.3    The Third Stage: The Period of Interculturalism                   ..          76

4.2       Organization of Music in Churches in Egbemaland              ..          88

4.2.1    Instrumental Organization      ..                      ..                      ..          88

4.2.2    Congregational Singing                      ..                      ..                      97

4.2.3    Choral Ensembles       ..                      ..                      ..          ..          100

4.3       Commonalities and Peculiarities in the Uses, Roles and


4.4       Textual Features in the Music of Churches in Egbemaland               120


4.5       Structural Features of the Music in the Churches in

Egbemaland                            ..                      .                       ..          126


4.5.1    Scale System                          ..                      ..                      ..          126

4.5.2    Cadential Points                     ..                      ..                      ..          127

4.5.3      Tone Colour ..                       ..                      ..                      ..          130

4.5.4    Melodic Structure                   ..                      ..                      ..          130

4.5.5    Harmonic Structure                ..                      ..                      ..          137

4.5.6    Rhythmic Structure                 ..                      ..                      ..          139

4.5.7    Musical Forms                        ..                      ..                      ..          144

4.6       Use of Indigenously Derived Music among the Churches

in Egbemaland                        ..                      ..                      ..          144


4.7       Contributions of Music to the Growth of the Churches         ..          149

4.8       Conclusion      ..          ..          ..          ..          ..          ..          ..          153



5.1       Summary                                           ..

5.2       Conclusion      ..                      ..                      ..                      ..          161

5.3       Research Findings                  ..                      ..                      ..          163

5.4       Recommendations                  ..                      ..                      ..          164

5.5       Contributions to Knowledge                           ..                      ..          168

5.6       Suggestions for Further Study                        ..                      ..          168

References      ..                      ..                      ..                      ..          169

List of Informants                   ..                      ..                      ..          175

List of Churches Selected in Egbemaland for the Study        ..          178


Appendix 1:    Song Texts and their English Translations                 180

Appendix 2: Musical Transcriptions                          ..          ..          217

Appendix 3:    A Letter of Self Introduction              ..          ..          261

Appendix 4:    Questionnaire             ..                      ..          ..          262

Appendix 5:    List of Photographs     ..                      ..          ..          266





1.1       Background to the Study

Music is recognized generally as a powerful tool in Christian worship and in the spread of Christianity. This underlies the profuse use of music in the worship and activities of churches. The general perception and approach therefore is that one cannot speak about the Church and her activities without reflecting on the place and contribution of music.

 The effort of the researcher here is an attempt to give a descriptive account with a view to highlighting the central and accompanying role music has played in churches in the towns and villages in Egbemaland since the advent of Christianity in the area and how that has impacted on the religious life of the people. Therefore, ‘a Study of Church Music in Egbemaland in Edo and Delta States of Nigeria, 1938-2014’ as a topic for this study is a discourse on the musical features of the churches in Egbemaland covering the two states of Edo and Delta in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The study traced the period before the advent of Christianity in the area in 1938 and the year 2014.

Significant place is given to the place of music in the churches in Egbemaland. The diverse roles music plays in the churches were identified, enumerated and described in as much details as possible. Indigenous songs of the people, lyrics, airs and hymns used in worship are collated, transcribed and analyzed. Effort was also made to analyse the textual, contextual and scriptural contents of the collected songs to identify the musical, philosophical, doctrinal and scriptural features therein.


1.2       Statement of the Problem

There has not been any written record of the music in the worship of the Churches in Egbemaland over the years and this constitutes a dearth of Church music history in the area. This is partly attributable to the oral tradition prevalent in the period under review. None of the evolving indigenous Church music since the advent of Christianity in the area has been transcribed musically.

Western hymns and a usually solemn atmosphere characterized the worship of the church at the advent of Christianity. The Western missionaries came with Western worship patterns and musical styles or forms that influenced the churches in the area without necessarily approaching worship from an indigenous perspective. This means, there was a lack of indigenization in music and worship and so a lack of touch with the people from an indigenous perspective. This situation affected worshippers’ relationship and fellowship in corporate worship experiences as it is generally believed that humans usually associate, embrace and flow best with what is common, familiar and used to them within their cultural environments.

It is also observed that associated with the songs used in churches in

Egbema; there have been a textual and theological deficiency. Hence, a probe into the scriptural or biblical content and soundness of the music used would be expedient.

Church music and worship were more in English than the local language of the people at the advent of Christianity in 1938. This is, in spite of the fact that the people were generally deficient in their level of literacy to be able to understand and assimilate the message of the songs and hymns. So, language constituted a barrier, a communication gap in music and worship.

As it is common and true in some African societies, the belief systems of the people before the advent of Christianity leaned essentially on African traditional religion and practices. This engendered conflict between traditional ideals and norms with those of Christianity. There is therefore a tussle of which should have precedence over the other in the religious and musical practices of the people in the area. This in itself has led to religious syncretism especially as it affects the music and worship of the people.

Owing to this background, myriads of issues have evolved; including amongst others whether instruments being used in traditional worship can be employed in church worship and whether Western instruments can be used solely in the church in local indigenous communities in Egbemaland and whether both Western and African traditional instruments can be blended and employed in the worship of God. Furthermore, there is the need to establish whether it will be acceptable to use only indigenous songs and traditional tunes or whether there could be a blend of both Western and African indigenous music in worship and what the impact will be if either is used or both are employed. In addition, the use of instruments, whether they be traditional or western in the churches have not been researched into. Therefore, the functions of each of these musical instruments and their manner of usage need to be studied.


1.3       Objectives of the Study

The general objective of the study is to investigate the uses and roles of indigenously derived music in the churches in Egbemaland.

The specific objectives are to:

  1. trace the evolution of Church music in Egbemaland in the period under review; ii. highlight how musical performances are organized in Egbemaland; iii.       identify the commonalities and peculiarities in the uses, roles and application of music in the different churches;  iv.      analyze the textual, contextual and theological contents of the music and identify the structural features therein;
  2. discuss the appropriateness and effectiveness of indigenously derived music in the worship of the churches in the area; and vi.     highlight the contributions of music to the growth of the churches in



1.4       Scope of the Study

The scope of the study is limited to the uses and roles of indigenously derived music in the churches in Egbemaland. The churches include both

Orthodox, Pentecostal and Organization of African Indigenous Churches (OAIC) amongst which are the Baptists, Assemblies of God, the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel), the Cherubim and Seraphim Church and the Celestial Church of Christ and others. For the purpose of this study, thirty of these churches were randomly selected. The study examined the musical activities in these churches in Egbema and the impacts thereof.

Historically, attention is given to the traditions of origin of Egbema land. The administrative, social cultural set-up, geographical location, occupation, language, celebrations or festivals, religion and belief systems and the way of life of the people of Egbema are examined. The Christian mission in Egbema land from its inception to the present day is x-rayed. The evolution and development of Church music in Egbema land is also given necessary attention. This historical background is important because the understanding of the history of the people will enhance the understanding of the study of their music.

The musical content as it affects the poetic, textual, social and theological contexts are analysed. The study investigated the role of music in worship and mission and also interrogated the connection between music and Christian devotion, development, establishment and the advancement of the Christian missionary effort.

The researcher approached the subject from a Christian religious viewpoint. He does not overlap or make significant reference to other religious faiths or practices in the area other than the Christian faith.





1.5       Significance of the Study


The research is significant in the area of music, religion, historiography and scholarship. The poetic and structural features in the music of the people in this study provide insight into the creative resources which composers can tap. The account on the Egbema people, Christianity, evolution and development of church music in the area serves a relevant historical purpose to both the present and future generations.

This study creates awareness that music in church worship and mission activities is aimed at enhancing the spiritual growth of the individual and the community of believers. It is believed that the documentation of the music in the churches in Egbema which has included collation, translation and transcription will carry with it special meaning and value for the present and future generations. It is the thinking of the researcher that the effort will be a timely advantage as it is hoped to be a readily available musical repertoire and resource for reference and use for individuals and Christian churches. This is essentially so because a research of such focus, peculiarity and magnitude as this is not known to have been done in the history of Egbema land in Edo and Delta states.

The thesis will be a relevant historical, religious, intellectual and musical material for further scholarly research and studies in the academia. It will be a resource for churches and other Christian missions; providing historical data for indigenes and non-indigenes of Egbema and an intellectual material for students engaged in formal and or informal education.



1.6       Research Questions

  • How did Church music evolve in Egbema land?
  • How are musical performances organized in the Churches?
  • What are the textual and structural features of the music?
  • How do the Churches use indigenously derived music?
  • What are the contributions of music to the growth of the Churches?


1.7       A Brief Historical Background of Egbema Land

Egbema is part of the traditional land of the Ijaw people in Edo and Delta States of Nigeria. The people have a common history, language, culture, social affinity and one traditional institution. They also have a traditional ruler, the Agadagba of Egbema. They are a homogenous people. Their migration, according to Abulu (2011, November 11) is said to have been from the Western Delta through the Forcados River and they founded the Egbema land centuries ago. Traditional accounts identify two main traders in the Western Delta, Olopomini and Opiti as the founding fathers. Ofunama is acclaimed the mother settlement (Amatu) of the founding fathers and still stands today as a major town, carrying the ‘mother figure’ of Egbema land. Over time, the wave of migration spread quite rapidly and diversely, leading to the founding of many other towns and villages in both Delta and Edo States of Nigeria (Abulu, 2011).

Traditionally, in terms of administrative organization, the society is geroncratic. The oldest man, the AmaOkosuwei, heads each community. Within the extended family, the eldest man (IdumuOkosuwei) is the head. The same translates to the quarter or division which is made up of families living in different streets. There are communal chiefs who provide leadership in congruence with the AmaOkosuwei. The chiefs, who are appointed by the King, belong to the Council of Chiefs and serve as advisers to the AmaOkosuwei at the local communal level and to the king at the level of the kingdom. At the apex of this structure is the King, Bini Pere, the Agadagba of Egbema, who is the head of the entire kingdom. He governs the entire territory with the assistance of his chiefs (Tiemo: 2011, November 14).

According to Doyah-Tiemo (2012, May 4), this traditional administrative structure has evolved a socio-political system which led to the formation of individual Egbema Ijaw National Councils as pressure groups. Each is headed by a President, who in his or her individual capacities, functions as an overall leader at national platforms beyond the immediate Egbema land. He or she leads in tandem with the King and the AmaOkosuabo (community elders) as advisers and consultants.

The major languages spoken by the people are Izon, English and Pidgin English; Izon being the indigenous lingua franca of the area. The people have their unique dressing patterns.  The males tie around their waist a six to eight yards wrapper and wear a three to four yards shirt designed traditionally with a short or long sleave. They put on a hat and a swagger to match.  Members of the royal families adorn themselves with beads on their heads and necks. The women tie around their waist double wrappers and wear a blouse on top with head tie, hand bag and shoes to match. Women also wear fokoiye – a hand woven clothe.

This special women dress indicates they are from a royal family. The staple food of the people is banga (palm nuts sauce) soup made from palm fruits with Ikpurukpuru, garri or starch which are products of cassava. The major occupations of the people include fishing and carving of canoes and paddles, etc. Others include brewing of gin, lumbering, farming and trading. These form their means of livelihood.

In terms of religion and belief system, the people’s original leaning is basically African traditional religious practices and beliefs. This involves traditional religious celebrations, ceremonies and festivals. They believe and worship the almighty goddess called TemeArau. This name springs from the belief that God is the Creator of all humans and the one in charge of reproduction. This is anchored on the belief that the Creator who reproduces cannot but be feminine. She must be a woman because it is a woman who conceives and delivers babies. TemeArau, traditionally is everything in every situation to the

Ijaw in Egbema. She is a protector, provider, avenger, multiplier and sustainer.

She is to the people, the beginning, the end and so the almighty. Under TemeArau is Egbesu, a lesser being through whom the Almighty can be reached and the people who believe in him can be assisted. Teme-Arau hierarchically is the ultimate, while Egbesu serves as an intermediary through whom humans could reach the Almighty.

The socio-cultural and trado-religious life style of the people involves ceremonies of celebrations and festivals before the emergence of Christianity. For example, at the onset of the fishing season, a ceremony called Toru-Pumu, a purification exercise, is held to consecrate the rivers and forests. This was celebrated mainly by the fisher men and women to elicit a successful expedition in the fishing season. During this event, the priestess who presides over the ceremony ties a white cloth around her head. She uses clay pellets – kaolin (‘native chalk’), pounded plantain mixed with palm oil and gin to pour libation with incantations to appease the fishes, animals as well as the gods and goddesses of the forest and river for a successful season of fishing expedition. Before and during this exercise, no man or woman is permitted to go for fishing in the river, neither to the bush for any activity. This consecration and rejuvenation ceremony is characterized, dotted and accompanied with clapping and drumming. Musical instruments like drums, bells and tambourines feature in the ceremony.

There is also the Bou-miyen, a purification exercise in the forest which lasts for three days. It conjures and attracts favour for humans from the forest spirits. Within the three days, no one goes to the forest. It is conducted by the priest or priestess who announces its commencement after hearing from the birds of the air. Upon that announcement, the relevant spirits do the purification of the forest and it could be noticed physically by signs of kaolin pellets on the trees.

Owu is another festival. It parades a masquerade dance to celebrate a successful year as thanksgiving to the gods. This is done with songs accompanied by various instruments. While the consecration and purification ceremonies may be peculiar to fishermen and women, canoe carvers, lumber workers and hunters, the Owu festival is general and communal. All members of the community, irrespective of their occupations and vocations participate in this harvest thanksgiving festival to celebrate the end of the year and the favours granted by the gods.

There are other festivals and celebrations which are not necessarily tied to the gods. One of such is the Amatoi, a community celebration. This is a communal festival, celebrated in the dry season to commemorate the end of the year. Sons and daughters of each community return home annually for this celebration. It could involve a renowned Ijaw musician and his or her dance band that perform music all-night. Where there is no specially invited musician for the occasion, local dance bands, choral and instrumental ensembles ordinarily perform.

This was the state until the advent of Christianity in 1938, when the missionaries brought the gospel of Jesus Christ. Today, the religious life of the people has changed drastically because of the influence of Christianity. The traditional festivals with their accompanying sacrifices and rituals are no more public scenes, but very private to a few who still hold on to traditional belief systems. According to Abulu (2011, November 11), Pablogba (2011, November

10) and Tiemo (2011, November 14), the first Christian church called ‘American

Baptist Church’ in Egbema land was opened in Polobubo community in 1938. It is one of the major towns in Egbema land. This was made possible as a result of missionary effort in the area between 1927 and 1938 through the evangelistic ministries of American missionaries and Rev. Aghogin Omatsola who worked closely with them. Today, the dominance and influence of Christianity is so enormous that most of the people now worship in various churches in the villages and towns in Egbema land. Egbema, in its present day Christian religious setting, employs various forms of music – vocal and instrumental, during the worship and activities of the churches.



Figure 1: A Picture of the Current Auditorium of the First Christian Church in

Egbemaland, the First Baptist Church, Polobubo


Ojiko, Matthias:  October 7, 2013


It was founded in 1938 as American Baptist Church.


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