What Is Baba Yetu? Meaning, Lyrics, Awards…


Many of the pieces in our upcoming “Salute” concert are probably familiar – certainly “The Star Spangled Banner” and the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. But one that may be relatively unknown outside of video game circles is “Baba Yetu”. Once you hear it, though, we think you’ll agree that in addition to being inspirational, it’s also truly unforgettable.

Soweto Gospel Choir and Baba Yetu

Baba Yetu Meaning and Lyrics

“Baba Yetu” is essentially the Lord’s Prayer sung in Swahili. The title translated means “Our Father”.

The lyrics are as follows:

Baba yetu, yetu uliye
Mbinguni yetu, yetu amina!
Baba yetu yetu uliye
Jina lako e litukuzwe.

Utupe leo chakula chetu
Tunachohitaji, utusamehe
Makosa yetu, hey!
Kama nasi tunavyowasamehe
Waliotukosea usitutie
Katika majaribu, lakini
Utuokoe, na yule, muovu e milele!

Ufalme wako ufike utakalo
Lifanyike duniani kama mbinguni.
(Amina)

Our Father, who art
in Heaven. Amen!
Our Father,
Hallowed be thy name.

Give us this day our daily bread,
Forgive us of
our trespasses,
As we forgive others
Who trespass against us
Lead us not into temptation, but
deliver us from the evil one forever.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven.
(Amen)

Video Game Origin

Unlike many orchestral and choral pieces that are either classical music or film scores, “Baba Yetu” has a unique story. Composer Christopher Tin was at his five-year Stanford University reunion where he reconnected with his former roommate Soren Johnson. Johnson told Tin that he had been working on the video game Civiliztion III at which time Tin relayed his love of the series.

A few months later, Johnson contacted Tin and told him that he was working on Civilization IV and needed music for the game’s introduction and menu area. Recalling his interest in the series, he asked if Tin wanted to help. Johnson had heard the Stanford Talisman, an a capella group at Stanford, sing traditional African music and wanted something similar. Tin composed “Baba Yetu” in 2005 and recorded it with Stanford Talisman for the game.

Tin re-recorded the piece for his first solo classical crossover album titled Calling All Dawns in 2009, recruiting the talent of the Soweto Gospel Choir for vocals.

Grammy Award Winning

“Baba Yetu” received a lot of critical praise, including from over 20 reviewers from major video game publications like IGN and GameSpy. It was also particularly memorable for fans of Civilization IV because of its combination of an inspirational and majestic theme with African percussion and rhythm.

In 2011, it won a Grammy Award which not only made it the first video game theme nominated, but also the first piece of music composed for a game to win. It also won at the Independent Music Awards and the 2006 Game Audio Network Guild Awards.

Performances Today

Today, the piece is frequently performed at Video Games Live concerts and has even made appearances at venues like Carnegie Hall, The Dubai Fountain, the Kennedy Center, The Hollywood Bowl, and America’s Got Talent.

Below are a couple of popular recordings from YouTube so you can hear this amazing piece yourself. To hear it live, be sure to join us on October 26 at 7:30 PM at the PACE Center for “Salute”.

Christopher Tin – Baba Yetu Official Music Video

Alex Boyé, BYU Men’s Choir – Baba Yetu

America’s Got Talent – Baba Yetu performed by the Angel City Chorale


Star Trek Musical Instruments

Image courtesy of realart.blogspot.comImage courtesy of realart.blogspot.com

50 years ago today, the first episode of Star Trek aired. Of course, it has become a classic with fans worldwide and numerous sequels and spinoffs. While alien worlds and beings, futuristic technology, timeless themes like love and conflict, and social commentary were at the center of episodes from Star Trek The Original Series to Star Trek The Next Generation and beyond, music also periodically made its appearance.

Ressikan Flute

Image courtesy of memory-alpha.wikia.com

Spock was often seen playing the Vulcan lute (pictured above), especially in episodes like “Charlie X”, “The Way To Eden”, and “Amok Time”. It was a 12-stringed instrument played on Vulcan and tuned on a diatonic scale. It was known for its soothing sound. Uhura was also able to play it and sang while playing during “The Conscience of the King”.

On Star Trek The Next Generation, Jean-Luc Picard played a Ressikan flute. He considered it one of his most prized possessions. He acquired it in an episode that dealt with the village of Ressik on the extinct plent of Kataan. He had been implanted with the memories of a man through a probe from the planet and among those memories was the ability to play the flute.

Other notable instruments and their players are listed below:

Violin: Data on Star Trek TNG
Cello: O’Brien on Star Trek TNG
Harpsichord: The Squire of Gothos (Star Trek TOS)
Clarinet: Harry Kim on Star Trek Voyager
Trombone: Riker on Star Trek TNG
Bagpipes: Scotty in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Piano: Sisko on Star Trek DS9, Spock in one episode of Star Trek TOS (“Requiem For Methuselah”)