… work in progress …
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.
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
» Visit the YouTube channel Catholic Mezmur
Kebena Kidane Mihiret Choir (Addis Ababa)
Frankfurt: Eritrean Catholic Kidanemihret Choir
Dawit Tura (Kunama)
Dawit Weldemichael (Eritrea)
Isaack Haile (Borana)
For further reading
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.
There is little information available in English language on the gospel music of the Catholic Church in Ethiopia. If you can help fill our knowledge gaps, please contact us via the form at the bottom of this page.