"9/11 | Coming Together" 20th Anniversary Special

The Tabernacle Choir Blog

Watch the Choir Perform “Betelehemu” — A Nigerian Carol Complete with Drums, Choreography, and Surprises

This unique and energetic song was composed by a Nigerian drummer named Babatunde Olatunji. Born in the village of Ajido, in southwestern Nigeria, Olatunji was a member of the Yoruba people, who are known for their progressive drumming tradition.

Olatunji received a Rotary International Foundation’s scholarship in 1950 and relocated to the United States to attend Morehouse College. It was there that he met Dr. Wendell P. Whalum, the school’s Glee Club director, and the two collaborated on “Betelehemu.” Although the song is a Christmas carol by definition, it can be performed at various times of the year due its lyrics sung in the original Yoruba language.

Seeing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform the song for the first time can be surprising to an unsuspecting audience member. The video below features the Choir, complete with drums and choreography, performing “Betelehemu.” If you've only seen the Choir perform in general conference, then this video will change the way you look at them forever.

Betelehemu is included on the album 100 Years: Celebrating A Century Of Recording Excellence.