The year’s first performance of the 400-strong Jubal Chorus will be held in Augusta on Thursday.
“Once or twice a year, two groups merge to present a combined chorus,” said Jon Duncan, a Georgia Baptist Convention Music & Worship Ministries state missionary. “It’s an amazing sound.”
The chorus is made of up two statewide choirs: the Sons of Jubal and Jubalheirs.
Both groups feature the talents of music directors, choir leaders, organists and pianists from Baptist churches across the state. The Sons of Jubal, founded in 1954, is the oldest group of its kind in the Southern Baptist Convention.
The evening includes arrangements of traditional hymns, contemporary tunes, gospel music, spirituals and classical selections.
“These groups literally sing all over the world,” Duncan said.
The Sons of Jubal have toured to Prague, Russia, and most recently China and North Korea. Next year, the Jubalheirs travel to Russia.
An offering will be taken during the free concert in support of Jubal chorus missions. On choir trips, members often work in ministry, sponsoring medical clinics and dental labs, supporting new churches and holding ministry and music training.
“We’re a music mission group – mission being the important word,” said Paul Moller, a leader in children’s music at First Baptist Church of Augusta, who has sung with the Sons of Jubal for 17 years. His wife, Claudia Miller, is a longtime member of the Jubalheirs. “What we do, they’re not really concerts; they’re worship services. We’re very mission-oriented. It makes us very different than many other groups.”
With members spread out across the state, the groups dedicate one weekend a year to a workshop where they rehearse and learn the music. On concert days, members arrive hours early to rehearse nonstop before the show.
“It’s a necessity, with the distance,” said Fred Gunter, a retired minister of music and member of The Hill Baptist Church, whose wife, Ann, is a charter member of the Jubalheirs. “They are professionals. They pick it up quickly.”
The group provides a rare opportunity for music directors, who more often stand in front of a chorus instead of singing with it, said Bob Walker, minister of worship and senior adults at The Hill Baptist.
“It’s a good networking and fellowship time for other ministers of music,” he said.
The ministers say their name – “Jubal” – usually prompts a question or two wherever they go.
“Jubal is the first recorded music minister in Scripture. It’s in Genesis,” Stan Pylant explains. The minister of music at First Baptist Church of Augusta has been a member of the Sons of Jubal for about 10 years.
Wherever the group performs, Duncan suggests showing up early.
“Generally it’s standing room only wherever we go,” he said. “The men usually play multiple concerts to accommodate the crowd. We’ve been told, ‘This is the closest to heaven I’ve been.’ It’s a great experience for all people.”