Tuesday, January 3, 2012

African Gospel Song "You Are The Most High God", Part 1

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part 1 in a four part series on the the African Gospel song "Jehovah, You Are The Most High God". That praise song is also known as "You Are The Most High God" and "Most High God".

Part 1 of this series provides a general overview of "Jehovah, You Are The Most High God" and also features several significant videos of that song.

Part 2 of this series focuses on tempos and rhythms that have been used for various renditions of that Gospel song.

Click for Part 2 of this series.

Part 3 of this series includes information about the call & response structure the song "Jehovah, You Are The Most High God". Part 3 also includes the text to (lyrics of) two versions of this song.

Click for Part 3 of this series.

Part 4 of this series features several other video examples of "Jehovah, You Are The Most High God".

Click for Part 4 of this series.

I'm sorry that I'm unable to provide a musical score for "You Are The Most High God's" identifiable tune. However, information written by a YouTube commentater about piano or guitar chords is included in Part 2 of this series under the sub-heading "Tempo".

For referencing use, embedded videos are assigned a number which is used throughout this entire series

While I value the spiritual nature of this song, these posts are published for their aesthetic values and as a means of documenting selective examples of this song on YouTube.

The Gospel (praise) song "Jehovah, You Are The Most High God" is originally from Nigeria, West Africa. The similarity in tune and certain lyrics to the Yoruba Nigerian Gospel song "Baba O Ese" (which is also known as "You Are The Pillar Which Holds My Life") inclines me to speculate that "JYATMHG" is also of Yoruba origin. But that is only a guess. Yet that guess is strengthened by the fact that the first person who appears to have recorded that song, Gbenga Owoeye-Wise (Gbenga Wise), is Yoruba. Source of Gbenga Wise's ethnicity: Biography of More information on Ggenga Wise's recording of "Jehovah, You Are The Most High God" is given below.

There are many videos of "JYATMHG" on YouTube. Most of these examples are vocal renditions from Nigerian or Ghanaian artists. The earliest YouTube videos [sound files] of "JYATMHG" date from 2008. Several uploaders of "You Are The Most High God" songs indicate that the video that she or he has uploaded is the "original version" of this song. One such video [sound file] can be found at JEHOVAH - You are the most high-Official /Original Version

The uploader of that video, praise2life, wrote "The original version of the song Jehovah -you are the most high it was done by the RCCG Mass choir praise team.

i don't have the album cover so i used another one from their other album."

In 2010 a viewer, maxiliving, responded to that assertion with this comment:

"Nice version but if it was not done before 1998 then it can't be the original version as Gbenga Owoeye Wyse did a wonderful version of the song in 1998.*

Having said that, the song was already being sang in Nigerian churches before Gbenga sang it.

I love Tye Tribbetts version also but Gbengas version is still my favourite.

Such a simple yet powerful and annointed song."


* See update below for the correct recording date.

Here's a video of Gbenga Wise singing that "Jehovah, You Are The Most High God" (although I think it's highly unlikely that this jazz tinged arrangement is the way he initially sung that song).

Video Example #1: Gbenga Wise -Jehovah/Baba Baba Ese Baba

Uploaded by gbengawise on Sep 9, 2010

"Gbenga Wise" Gospel "African Praise"
As a bit of a digression, notice that Gbenga Wise combines "Jehovah, You Are The Most High God" with the(what I think is a closely related) Yoruba Nigerian Gospel song "Baba Baba Ese Baba". That song is sometimes given as "Baba O Ese" and "Baba Ese". I belive that the Nigerian Gospel song "You Are The Pillar That Holds My Life" was and in some versions is still the same song as "Baba Ese". There are other videos which feature the song "You Are The Most High God" in combination with "Baba Ese".

I exchanged online messages [1/6/2012] with musician, vocalist, & composer Gbenga Wise and received permission from him to post the following information:

1. [In response to my request that he confirm that he was the first person to record Jehovah You Are The Most High God, and my request for confirmation of that recording date]
"Yes i am the fisrt Gospel artist that recorded the song Jehovah You Are The Most High. The album was released in August 1999 and not 1998

2. [In response to my question "Was the song "Jehovah, You Are The Most High God" known in Nigeria before he recorded it?]
"Yes it was in Nigeria before I recorded it."

3. [In response to my request for information about whether the structure and lyrics of that song were the same as his recording.]
"Yes it was a call and response song but the version you heard on my video is my version and the verses are my created verses which makes it different from the original version"

4. [In response to my questions about whether the song "Baba Ese O" is older than the song "Jehovah, You Are The Most High God"]
"I am not sure which song is older may be Jehovah or Baba Ese o Baba. I am not sure"

5. [In response to my question if the Nigerian song "Ise Oluwa" was the precurser of "Baba Ese"]
"The song Ise Oluwa is different from Baba Ese o baba and NO its not a precurse to Baba Ese o Baba"
I appreciate Gbenda Wise's quick response to my queries. Although the text of this pancocojams post containst the wrong recording date for Gbenda Wise's recording of "Jehovah/Baba Baba Ese", I feel it would be unethical for me to edit that mistake in this particular post, but I'll use the correct recording date for any other post I write on this subject.
Commentater maxiliving also mentioned the popular 2010 version of "You Are The Most High" by African American Gospel artists Tye Tribbett and Israel Houghton. Here's that version:

Video Example #2: tye tribbett ft Israel Houghton - most high God

Uploaded by ibksob on Jan 20, 2011

Most high God - Tye Tribbett, Tye Tribbett's new Album Fresh 2010

Video Example #3: You are the most high God - Lenny Akpadie

Uploaded by MerchandiseRichTV on Mar 19, 2011
Several commentaters on various video's viewer comment threads mention Ghanaian Pastor Lenny Akpadie's version of "JYATMHG" as being very popular with Christians in Africa. I think that Akpadie's version was recorded in 2008 but I'm not certain of that.

Video Example #4

Jehovah You're the most high (World #1 hit praise song)

Uploaded by beacon1327 on Jun 3, 2010

#1 hit praise song in the world today. Visit our website to order your copy.
*A video which provides the lyrics to Kofi Thompson's version is featured in Part 3 of this pancocojams series.

A number of versions of "You Are The Most High" have an uptempo, African-Caribbean jazz flavored, danceable rhythm. An example of this arrangement of "JYATMHG" is this video of Kofi Thompson. On a companion video* that arrangement is described as an "Africaribb medley".


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