This Christmas song is in the Yoruba (èdè Yorùbá) language, which is one of the local languages used in Nigeria and neighbouring countries.

Betelehemu was written for the Glee Club of Morehouse College Glee Club (Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia) by their choir director, Dr. Wendell P. Whalum based on a song which he received from by an African student on a Rotary scholarship, Michael Babtunde Olatunj in the 1950's.

It is not known if the was an original work by Olatunji or a traditional Yoruba song that Olatunji shared with Whalum.

Whalum published an arrangement with a copyright date of 1992, but the original has been performed by the Glee Club since 1965, at least. SATB versions have been arranged by people including Jonathan Crutchfield and Barrington Brooks.

This means that the copyright status of the original lyrics and the basic tune and movements / choreography are unclear.



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Morehouse College Glee Club:

Performance choir with drums and other percussion:

Men's choir TV performance:

Robed church choir:


Betelehemu, Betelehemu, Betelehemu, Betelehemu.

Awa yi o ri Baba gbo jule.
Awa yi o ri Baba fehenti.
Awa yi o ri Baba gbo jule.
Awa yi o ri Baba fehenti.

Awa yi o ri Baba gbo jule.
Awa yi o ri Baba fehenti.
Nibo labi Jesu,
Nibo lagbe bii.

Betelehemu ilu ara,
Nibe labi Baba o daju,

Iyin, Iyin, Iyin, nifuno.
Iyin, Iyin, Iyin, nifuno.

Adupe fun o,
jooni,Baba olo reo.
Adupe fun o,
jooni,Baba olo reo.

Iyin, fun o Baba anu, Baba toda wasi


We are glad that we have a Father to trust.
We are glad to have a Father to rely upon.

Where was Jesus born?
Where was he born?

Bethlehem the city of wonder.
That is where the Father was born for sure.

Praise, Praise, Praise be to Him
We thank Thee, We thank Thee for this day,

Gracious Father.
Praise be to Thee, Merciful Father.

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