Accepted Paper:

Gift or Anointing? Performance versus Ministration: Experiencing the Sacred Presence through Music in Yorùbá Pentecostalism  


Oluwafemi Ayodeji (Durham University)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, I explore the key term pairings "gift/anointing" and "performance/ministration" as criteria for judging and categorising music ministers and their musical endeavours, as well as how these terms relate to the experience of sacred presence in Yorùbá Pentecostal Christianity.

Paper long abstract:

This paper promotes a fuller understanding of the perspectives fostered within Yorùbá Pentecostalism, particularly in relation to participants' understandings of the key term pairings "gift/anointing" and "performance/ministration" as criteria for judging and categorising music ministers and their musical endeavours. Amongst Pentecostals, these four terms permeate discourse relating to music and liturgical rites, with the following questions often arising: Is it better to be led by a gifted or anointed music minister? And should music within the church be conceived as performance or ministration? These debates directly reflect upon the importance Pentecostals attach to spirituality. Albrecht's observation that Pentecostals generally believe their main purpose for attending church is to have a personal encounter with God (1999, p. 142) is visibly projected in the services that I observed at the large and influential Mountain of Fire and Miracles church in Nigeria, with pastors often explicitly stating this goal to the congregation. All aspects of the service, including music, are designed to promote the need for the spiritual self to have a sacred experience. In this presentation, I will draw on interviews and participant-observation ethnography to discuss the dynamics, beliefs and meanings surrounding the aforementioned key terms within Yorùbá Pentecostal Christianity, especially as they concern music. I argue that although 'anointing' and 'ministration' are considered to be more spiritual qualifiers, it would be naive to assume that the other two attributes are not required for a spiritually satisfying worship experience.

Panel P081
Comparing Notes: Realising the Sacred and the Self in Art