Sons of Jubal celebrate 70 years of making joyful noise to the Lord


For the past 70 years, the members of the Sons of Jubal chorus have been raising their voices in song to worship and glorify the Lord.  From the group's inception, they have used music to declare the truth of the gospel across Georgia, the United States, and the world.

The Sons of Jubal were organized in 1954, just a few years after Georgia Baptists established what was then just the second Church Music Department in the Southern Baptist Convention. They became the first men’s worship choir in the Southern Baptist Convention with Paul McCommon, the first director of the Church Music Department, as their founding director.

McCommon, who had been the pastor of Atlanta’s Jackson Avenue Baptist Church, was a gifted pastor and musician. As the first director of the Church Music Department, he was a visionary, creating new ministries from scratch. He established precedents and programs that are still used today and was recognized by his peers across the SBC in 1957 when he was elected the first president of the SBC Church Music Conference.

When McCommon established the Church Music Department in 1951 there were only 12 full-time ministers of music in Georgia Baptist Churches. That number grew to 109 by 1959 and continued to grow during his 37-year tenure.

In the early years of the Church Music Department, new music ministries were being established and were growing rapidly. Churches were encouraged to establish graded choirs. In 1952 a publication called The Quarter Notes began, and mailed over 2,000 copies in its first year. Two years later the number rose to over 7,100. In 1953, the first Statewide Music Festival was held with 475 enrolled. By 1957 the number enrolled was over 8,000, and in 1963 over 20,000 attended.

The Sons of Jubal may have begun during the second Church Music Festival, when a new Christmas Cantata was premiered. Or it may have grown out of the fellowship of musicians who simply loved to gather around a piano and sing. What is known, is that in 1954 the group formally organized and began to be featured at the Georgia Baptist Convention and other gatherings. Their name was adopted the same year the group formed.

According to Jubal historian Ken Drane, the group remained relatively small, with about 20 to begin in the 1950s. By 1963 there were about 35 members. Through the years the group has grown, and the Jubalheirs were formed as a female counterpart. Today, according to Judy Crumley, the Jubals' secretary, there are 345 Sons of Jubal and 335 Jubalheirs on the active rolls.

In 1966, the Sons of Jubal produced their first record as a fundraiser for their first international mission trip to South America as a part of "The Crusade of the Americas" revival emphasis. In the years since, there have been a total of 17 mission trips at home and abroad. In each of those trips, historian Drane observed, "God's been involved in miraculous ways." From getting through customs to the preparation of music in various international venues, Drane said, "God paved the way."

The Jubals have provided hundreds of concerts, and been an encouragement to volunteer directors and full-time ministers of music. The fellowship has proved to be a force for good for church music in Georgia.

Through the years there have been three principal conductors. Paul McCommon conducted from 1954-1988, Warren Fields from 1988-2000, and Jon Duncan from 2002 to the present. Each of these men has mentored hundreds of music leaders across Georgia. They have been a blessing to Georgia Baptist's worship ministries in ways that can hardly begin to be counted.

A signature piece of music used in recent years has been the song, "The Midnight Cry," which looks to the second coming of Christ. May the Sons of Jubal still be singing until that day, "When Jesus steps out on a cloud to call His children."

The Sons of Jubal and Jubalheirs have several upcoming concerts in Georgia and neighboring states. The Jubal Chorus, which is a combination of the Sons of Jubal and the Jubalheirs, will be in concert Thursday, April 25, at Johns Creek Baptist Church, Alpharetta.

Other upcoming dates include the Sons of Jubal at FBC Jonesboro on May 9., and The Jubalheirs at Bethany Baptist Church, McDonough, on May 10. Later this year, on August 8, a combined concert of the Sons of Jubal and the Alabama Baptist Singing Men will be held at FBC Opelika, Alabama.