Praise and worship has been an integral part of life in Nigeria for ages. This used to happen even before modern Christian missionaries set foot in the country. At the time, the natives used to sing songs in praise of their god(s). These songs were sung when rain came after a long period of drought, after a good bountiful harvest and birth of a child.
Other praise songs were sung during different occasions. When a local king died and a successor chosen, special songs were sung in his praise, asking the god(s) to give him long life and wisdom. Special songs were also sung for young men who were considered heroes after heroic acts as in wars. In Nigeria as in many African countries, praise songs are still sung, especially for national leaders.
The advent of Christianity and Islam in Nigeria never eradicated praise songs. Some praise songs were transformed to reflect the change in worship, and most praise songs today are used to praise God (both Christians and Muslims alike).
These praise songs were transformed into worship songs and are common throughout the country. While modern praise and worship songs have found their way into the society, the traditional ones still abound, where traditional instruments such as drums and horns are used. It is not surprising to find modern praise and worship songs being sung comfortably in the local languages.
In today’s Nigeria, praise and worship songs have been arranged in such a manner that particular songs are sung during certain occasions.
- Family praise and worship songs. These are common in most Christian homes and will be heard being sung in the mornings and evenings. These are meant to give God thanks and praise for his care and protection during the night and for his guidance during the day. They are very popular with children
- Marriage praise songs. These are sung during wedding festivities and are meant to give thanks and praise to God for such an opportunity. They are also meant to prevail upon God to bless such a couple.
- Thanksgiving praise songs. These are sung to give God thanks. They are mostly sung when the first harvest is brought into the church as offering for God.
- Worship songs. These are sung in the church. Some will be sung at the opening of worship, others during the church service and the rest at the end of the service.
It is important to point out that Muslims also have their own praise and worship songs and like Christians, those songs are meant to give praise to Allah.
Some of the modern praise and worship songs that are sung in the local languages are;
(a) Joy, Joy, Joy (c.s.s.m. 236), Wide, Wide as the Ocean (c.s.s.m. 269) and Jesus, Jesus, Jesus (c.s.s.m. 305).