People packed Baird Chapel last Thursday, Friday and Saturday night as the Bert Coble Singers performed its 31st Annual Christmas Dinner Show at Cumberland University.
The show included the unveiling of a historic reconditioned 1,200-pipe organ in the chapel.
Cumberland University President Paul Stumb said that the exciting addition of the Bert Coble Memorial Organ will live on at Cumberland and continue to bring music to thousands.
“We are so thrilled and appreciative to receive this remarkable gift from Lifeway Christian Resources,” Stumb said at Friday night’s dinner. “The organ will add immeasurably to the historic nature of Baird Chapel and will keep music alive for future generations of Cumberland students and thousands of guests who attend events in the chapel each year.”
The organ, like its now namesake Bert Coble, has a story of its own.
The custom-built Wicks 23-rank two manual pipe organ used to live in Van Ness auditorium of the Lifeway Christian Resource Center in downtown Nashville for more than 50 years, where it’s hauntingly beautiful sound was a staple of the building.
When the iconic Lifeway building was demolished in January, the equally iconic pipe organ did not go down with the building. In the summer of 2017, an agreement was signed that would bring the organ to its new home in Cumberland University’s Baird Chapel.
Coble, who died in 2017 at age 93, established an Associate of Music degree at Cumberland University in 1972. In 1988, upon his retirement from teaching, Coble began the Christmas concert tradition that has been a staple of the Wilson County community.
The organ was removed from the Lifeway building, completely refurbished, modernized and updated by the Milnar Organ Company in Eagleville. Part of that refurbishment process included re-voicing the organ to achieve the proper tone for the dimensions of Bair Chapel.
The instillation took place between October and December and the debut performance of the Bert Coble Memorial Organ, took place during the Bert Coble Christmas Dinner Shows.
Cumberland Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs C. William McKee spoke about the importance of Coble and his impact on Cumberland University on Thursday night where he asked the crowd to remember Coble and all of his contributions.
“When you’re in this room tonight, we’re here to honor the singers and to honor the memory of Dr. Coble. I want you to really feel his presence,” McKee said.
Proceeds from the show benefit the Empower Me Day Camp, Wilson County Community Help Center, and the Dr. H. Bert Coble Endowed Scholarship at Cumberland University.