We Play Too Much, The Good Side

“We play too much” This is a sentence that is very common in Ghana whenever we try to make fun of happenings in the country.

The above sentence was the headline of a trending video on twitter this week and I just want to view the video from the other side of the story.

In the said video, Reverend Obofour, the founder of the Anointed Palace Chapel with his junior Pastors join in chorus to sing one of shattawale’s hit song “Taking Over” before his congregation. The song won “Best Collaboration of the Year” at the recently held Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA). This goes to tell that the song is nice and appealing to the ears.

The enthusiasm and the passion with which Rev Obofour and his entourage of Pastors sang and danced to the secular song in church was what got Christians talking. The church or the temple of God is sacrosanct to certain practices.  Are such songs supposed to be sung on the pulpit? How can the church evolve itself to be able to enjoy some of these nice songs but which are secular in church?

Casting my mind back to the previous weekend, I was at a wedding at McCarthy Hill (Name withheld), the auditorium was small so I sat outside the church whiles the service took place. After the newly married couple had gone to sign the marriage certificate, the song that I heard being sung by the minister surprised me, “John 3;16 Mahama Onaapo”. Out of shock I run into the auditorium to see what was happening. The glee with which Christians were dancing to the song I found disgusting. But wait a moment, am not done yet, out of my disgust I decided to pay attention to the lyrics of the song. I noted that the words had been changed but the rhythm and the chorus was almost like the popular 2016 John Mahama election track.

Another case in point is Dag Heward Mills of the Light House Chapel International. Because Dag Heward Mills is a laid back person, he has a liassez faire method of preaching. During his ministrations he blends it with his choice of songs which are most times converted secular songs. He has this female Minister that has converted many of the reggae songs of Bob Marley into very nice gospel songs that can be enjoyed judiciously and spiritually in church. A popular song is, “Is this love” by Bob Marley. If you listen to Sweet melody 94.3 FM, you probably might have heard these songs before. In addition to this is Deitrick Haddon’s “This is my story”. This is a gospel rendition of a reggae track “Feel Irie” by Lucky Dube. This song has been one of the all-time hit tracks of Deitrick Haddon that was performed by almost every choir on campus in my days in University.

“All I do is win” a secular song by DJ Khaled featuring T-Pain, Ludacris, Snoop Dog and Rick Ross has also been converted into a gospel rendition by one of Royal House Chapel’s Minister of worship, Nana Yaw Boakye. This video also trended and was loved by most Christians in Ghana. It is believed that Nana Yaw Boakye in his days in the secondary school was a rapper and a dancer. This means he has great love for hip hop. Thus when he became converted as a Christian he decided to convert most of the hit songs of his favourite genre into gospel. So that he can enjoy church and not find church services boring.

In the 2012 movie “Let it Shine” Tyler James had to prove to his father, a Reverend Minister that Hip hop was not devilish music. How did he do that? He made his daddy pay attention to the lyric of his songs. His father after going through his song book realised that the lyric of his son’s rap was to uplift people and give them a message of hope. That was how the Reverend Minister’s perception about rap and hip hop changed.

What am I trying to say with all these examples? A song is or is not a gospel based on the words of the music. The lyrics or words of a song are important. Let’s not listen to sinful lyrics or words that condone sin or are anti-God. What the bible says in Romans 14:19 is that “let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification”. In Ecclesiastes 7:5, the Holy book states that “It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise man than to hear the songs of fools”. Colossians 3v16 says “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God”. The simple point I am trying to make is that, there is nothing wrong with using the rhythms and beats of some popular hit songs that gets you singing unconsciously by rewording the lyrics into holy and Godly songs so that they can be enjoyed in Church. What will happen if Mansa by Bisa Kdei was rephrased into gospel?

I remember an interview of T.D Jakes by Pastor Steven Furtick, where he was asked, what are the songs you like to listen to that don’t get played in church? He jokingly replied shut the cameras. We all enjoy some of these secular songs not because we love them but because sometimes the beats are simply irresistible. So as much as Rev Obofour and his church as usual played too much in Church. The lesson that we can learn going forward is to change the lyrics of most popular secular songs into nicely composed gospel songs with spirit filled lyrics and let’s enjoy them to the glory of God in church.