It is an invitation to worship without words, just music.
The Big Sing will welcome any singer interested in joining a hymn choir on July 25. The free event is one of the first of its kind in Acadiana, said Benjamin Harlan, who heads the service at First Baptist Lafayette.
It is modeled on a British tradition. Small parish churches performed hymns and then gathered at the Royal Albert Hall in London with a choir of 800 and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
“The whole evening is about getting together to sing,” Harlan said. “If you’ve never heard an anthem sung by such a large gathering of like-minded people, it truly is an amazing thing to hear.”
Harlan, originally from Louisiana, brought the idea to the Southeastern United States. This will be the first anthem festival he has led since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The evening will feature a selection of hymns – some old, some less familiar – including “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name”, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” and “It Is Well With My Soul”. The choir will be joined by a piano, organ, brass quintet and other musical instruments.
“I always try to put something new in there that people don’t know,” he said. “But most of them will be great hymns that will run through all congregations and denominations.”
Anyone interested in joining the choir will arrive at the church early to practice the music. Then the audience will arrive, hopefully packing the shrine. Each participant will receive a program filled with sheet music so that they can join in with their own happy noise.
Harlan said he has contacted more than 40 ministers of religious music across the state and in Mississippi, inviting them to the event.
The night is meant to be about music, faith and the bonds that unite people, Harlan said.
“Music is part of our faith and strengthens our faith, the same way you embrace a song that means a lot to you,” he said. “It’s just one of those wonderful things the Lord has given us that makes us feel good.”
“I hope everyone realizes that this is a great way to create a memory that will last forever and to do something special after we’ve just been through the toughest year we’ve had.” , he added.
If you are going to…
When: Sunday July 25 at 6 p.m.
To join the choir, arrive at 3 p.m. for the rehearsal
Or: Premier Baptiste Lafayette, 1100 Lee Avenue, Lafayette
Cost: To free
If you would like to join the choir and rehearse with the music, send an email to [email protected]