The Catholics in the northern part of Ethiopia as well as in Eritrea celebrate Mass according to the Ethiopian (aka Ge’ez) liturgical rite.
In the other areas of Ethiopia, the Western liturgical rite is common.
(focus on Southern Ethiopia)
The first Catholic missionaries started their activities in Southern Ethiopia about one hundred years ago (Fa. Pascal of Luchon and others).
The Apostolic Vicariates of Soddo (Wolaytta), Awasa and Hossana are the numerically strongest in the country. Several of their centers are located in rural areas (Wassera, etc.). These circumstances were conducive for the creation of vernacular gospel songs.
The first original songs in Hadiyyisa seem to have been written a few years after Vatican II Council (until 1965) by Catechist (then Deacon) Wolde N. from Saddama. The French Cappuchin Priest at the station then was Fa. René. The Apostolic Administrator in Hossana until 1972, Bishop Urbain-Marie Person, opposed clapping and dancing. Antiphonal singing was also not adopted by Catholics in the area.
Generally speaking, in Catholic congregations choirs were (and are) preferred to solo singers.
The first Ge’ez (classical Ethiopic) book ever printed was based on a manuscript in the Vatican, Psalterium David et cantica aliqua in lingua Chaldea [David’s psalter and some hymns in the Chaldean (!) language, 1513].
Ǝgziʼabǝher amäsgǝnut [እግዚአብሔር_አመስግኑት, Praise God]. Edited by the Catholic Church in Ethiopia. Addis Ababa. [No date indicated.]
Ǝnǝzämǝr lägeta [እንዘምር ለጌታ, Let Us Sing to the Lord]. Addis Ababa: Ethiopian Catholic Church. [No date indicated; with some musical notations.]
» Read manuscript with Catholic hymns in Hadiyya
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Ethiopian Catholic Mezimur Amharic
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Eri Catholic AddisMedia
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Mezmur Catholic [Eritrea]
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Ethiopian Catholic Charismatic Choir
Sidama: Hawassa Kidane Mihret Choir
Tigray: Mekelle Lideta Mariam Choir
Asmara: Sant’Antonio Church
Asmara: Catholic Tehadso Movement
Eritrean Catholic Khartoum Parish Choirs
Frankfurt: Eritrean Catholic Kidanemihret Choir
London: Holy Redeemer Eritrean Catholic Gheez-Rite Chaplaincy
Cheramlac Bereha (Amharic)
Dawit Tura (Kunama)
Dawit Weldemichael (Tigrinya [Eritrea])
Isaack Haile (Borana)
Sam Carmel (Amharic & Tigrinya)
Tedros & Mary (Tigrinya)
Tireeza Jikkore (Hadiyya)
Wolde N. (Hadiyya)
Alberto, Antonios. A Modern and Contemporary History of the Catholic Church in Ethiopia (16th – 20th Centuries). (Ethiopian Review of Cultures 6). Addis Ababa: Capuchin Franciscan Institute of Philosophy and Theology, 2013.
O’Mahoney, Kevin. “The Ebullient Phoenix”: A History of the Vicariate of Abyssinia. Vol. 1: 1839-60; vol. 2: 1860-81; vol. 3: 1882-1916. Asmara: Ethiopian Studies Centre, 1982-87.
» See the bibliography in the sections on the
Catholic Ethiopian rite and the Catholic Western rite
There is little information available in English language on the gospel music of the Catholic Church in Ethiopia and Eritrea. If you can help fill our knowledge gaps, please contact us via the form at the bottom of this page.