Baba Yetu

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"Baba Yetu"
Song by Christopher Tin featuring Ron Ragin and Stanford Talisman
from the album Sid Meier's Civilization IV Official Soundtrack
ReleasedOctober 24, 2005 (2005-10-24)
Label2K Games
Composer(s)Christopher Tin
Audio sample
"Baba Yetu"

"Baba Yetu" (Swahili: "Our Father") is the theme song for the 2005 video game Civilization IV. It was composed by Christopher Tin and performed by Ron Ragin and the Stanford Talisman.[1][2][3] For its re-release in Tin's debut album Calling All Dawns, it was performed by the Soweto Gospel Choir. The song, when rereleased, became the first piece of video game music to be nominated for and to win a Grammy Award.


Being a fan of the Civilization series,[4] Tin reconnected with his former roommate Soren Johnson during his five-year college reunion at Stanford University; both had been part of an overseas program during their studies at Oxford University, with Johnson studying history and Tin studying music.[5] Johnson told Tin at the reunion he had been working on Civilization III, and Tin expressed his love of the series to him. Some months after the reunion, Johnson contacted Tin and told him they were looking for music for the introduction for their new game Civilization IV, and wanted him to help. Johnson said they were inspired by the performances of the Stanford Talisman, an a capella group at Stanford that specialize in traditional African music, and wanted Tin to compose something similar for the theme. Tin took about a month to compose the track before recording it with Talisman for the game's track.[5]


The lyrics of "Baba Yetu" (which means "Our Father" in Swahili) are a translation of the Lord's Prayer.[6][7]

Swahili English
"Baba Yetu"

Baba yetu, yetu uliye
Mbinguni yetu, yetu amina!
Baba yetu yetu uliye
M 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.

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.

In 2007, "Baba Yetu" was released by Alfred Music Publishing,[8] and it was rearranged by Tin for an SATB a cappella choir with optional percussion accompaniment in 2011.[9] Other arrangements include SSATBB choir, TTBB choir, string orchestra, concert band, piano quintet, and piano/voice.


"Baba Yetu" garnered much critical praise, with over 20 reviewers singling out the theme on platforms such as IGN and GameSpy.[10]

Awards and achievements[edit]

"Baba Yetu" was nominated for the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards in the Grammy Award for Best Arrangement, Instrumental and Vocals category, and on February 13, 2011, it was announced as the winner of its category, making it the first piece of music composed for a video game to be nominated for and win a Grammy Award.[11][12] At the 10th annual Independent Music Awards, "Baba Yetu" was the winner in the 'Song Used in Film/TV/Multimedia' and 'World Beat Song' categories.[13]

Notable performances[edit]

"Baba Yetu" is a frequent piece performed during Video Games Live concerts.[5] It has been performed at various venues and events around the world, including Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center, Disney Concert Hall, The Dubai Fountain, the Kennedy Center, Royal Festival Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, the New Year's Concert of the sixty-seventh session of the United Nations General Assembly,[14] as well as the 2017 Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.[15][16] Notable ensembles that have performed the song include the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,[17] Welsh National Opera,[18] National Symphony Orchestra,[19] US Navy Band,[20] and various YouTube artists, including Peter Hollens,[21] Alex Boye, BYU Men's Choir[22] and Korean Acapella group Maytree which was praised by Tin himself.[23]

"Baba Yetu" is a popular contemporary choral piece, and has been sung in many competitions. Notably, the Angel City Chorale performed it during the 13th season of America's Got Talent, earning guest judge Olivia Munn's golden buzzer, advancing the choir to the live shows.[24] On the final night of that same season on the show, the acrobatic dance group Zurcaroh performed a routine to the song.[25] In addition, the Stellenbosch University Choir won the Open, Youth, and Mixed choir categories for their performance of it at the 2018 Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.[26]

On the 6th of August 2019, "Baba Yetu" was played at the signing of the Maputo Accord, which brought an end to the RENAMO insurgency in Mozambique.[27]


  1. ^ "Looking Back... Civilization IV". CVG. July 6, 2006. Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  2. ^ Nichols, Max (September 1, 2007). "Video Games Live". N-Sider. Archived from the original on August 9, 2014. Retrieved July 13, 2012.
  3. ^ "Talisman featured on Civilization 4". March 11, 2005. Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  4. ^ Narciesse, Evan (June 26, 2011). "Video Games' First-Ever Grammy Winner Talks About 'Civilization' and Music". Time. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c Jeriaska (September 29, 2009). "Interview: Christopher Tin - From Civilization IV to Calling All Dawns". Gamasutra. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  6. ^ "Baba Yetu". Christopher Tin. 2006-09-21. Retrieved 2021-08-19.
  7. ^ Baba Yetu Lyrics Archived 2021-08-19 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Baba Yetu". Alfred Music. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
  9. ^ "Baba Yetu - SATB". Alfred Music. Retrieved July 13, 2012.
  10. ^ Tin, Christopher. "Press". Archived from the original on January 16, 2013. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  11. ^ Langshaw, Mark (December 5, 2010). "'Civ IV' theme nominated for Grammy". Digital Spy. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  12. ^ Senior, Tom (February 14, 2011). "Civilization 4 wins grammy for Baba Yetu six years after release". PC Gamer. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  13. ^ "Christopher Tin". The Independent Music Awards. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  14. ^ Viva Vox Choir (Belgrade) - New Year's Concert of the 67th Session of the General Assembly. UN Web TV. January 14, 2013. Event occurs at 25:29. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
  15. ^ "Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod 'UK's Most Multilingual Choir' to Mark International Festival's 70th Anniversary". 7 July 2017. Retrieved 2018-07-26.
  16. ^ Drury, Jonny (7 July 2017). "Calling All Nations Concert, Llangollen Eisteddfod - review". Retrieved 2018-07-26.
  17. ^ "The Music of Christopher Tin at Cadogan Hal". Cadogan Hall. July 19, 2016. Archived from the original on August 31, 2017. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  18. ^ "Calling All Nations Concert, Llangollen Eisteddfod - review". Shropshire Star. July 10, 2017. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  19. ^ "It's All in the Playing at NSO's 'Video Games Live'". Washington Post. July 2, 2007. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  20. ^ "US Navy Band Performs 'Baba Yetu' in Swahili and it's Astonishing". Nairobi News. January 20, 2016. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  21. ^ "Malukah and Peter Hollens Release Gorgeous Civilization IV Cover Song". The Escapist. August 21, 2014. Archived from the original on August 31, 2017. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  22. ^ "Men's Chorus and Alex Boyé find their perfect fit with 'Baba Yetu'". BYU College of Fine Arts and Communication. March 24, 2016. Archived from the original on August 31, 2017. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  23. ^ Baba Yetu (acapella) #civilization, retrieved 2022-07-24
  24. ^ Staff, NBC4 (2018-07-25). "Angel City Chorale earns Olivia Munn's golden buzzer on America's Got Talent". WCMH. Retrieved 2018-07-25.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  25. ^ Henderson, Cydney (September 19, 2018). "'America's Got Talent' final performance recap: Who will win Season 13?". USA Today. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  26. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2018-08-01. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  27. ^ "Mozambique peace-accord signing featured Civilization IV's theme song". VentureBeat. August 15, 2019. Retrieved December 2, 2019.