Churches unite for worship event at Alabama Theater in Birmingham

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A 200-voice choir and 40-piece orchestra made up of members from 12 Birmingham-area Baptist churches performed “All Nature Sings: A Night of Sacred Music” on September 25 at the Alabama Theater.

John Woods, pastor of music and worship at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, said organizers wanted the event “to feel like it belonged to everyone”.

“With that in mind, we also wanted to not be an evening just for church people who love church music, but for the wider Birmingham community to come and enjoy good music.”

The idea for the event began with “All Nature Sings” composer Phillip Keveren, who wanted to use great hymns of faith in a fresh and new way, he said.

majesty of creation

Keveren has a long history of writing instrumental and vocal music for churches and for Christian artists such as Steve Green, Sandi Patty and Jeremy Camp. After the pandemic lockdown, Keveren said Psalm 96 and Romans 1:20 inspired him to “put the particular hymns that celebrate the majesty of God’s creation to new music,” resulting in this oratorio. Keveren also sang as part of the choir’s tenor section, Woods said.

The evening began with Brent Reeves improvising classic hymns on the Alabama Theater’s Mighty Wurlitzer (“Big Bertha”) theater organ, followed by congregational singing conducted by Jeremy Jackson.

The evening ended with the performance of the choir and the orchestra.

Volunteering

The singers and musicians in the production were all volunteers from participating Baptist churches: Brookwood, Dawson, First Birmingham, Lakeside, Meadow Brook, Mountain Brook, Raleigh Avenue, Shades Crest, Shades Mountain, Sixth Avenue, Valleydale and Vestavia Hills.

The volunteers started working months ago, learning music while practicing at home. Joint rehearsals were held closer to the date of the event, Woods said.

Several worship pastors were among the musicians and production support team, he added, praising the collaborative effort.

“It’s absolutely humbling and inspiring to see these people doing their job at such a high level,” Woods said. “It’s almost overwhelming. It makes me proud to be part of this community of Baptist friends.

“Whenever we can find an excuse to bring people together – to sing together or play music together – we should celebrate that and find a reason to do it again.”

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