Jazzed-up Psalms reaching Berlin's heart

When we arrived in Berlin nine years ago, we knew that being musicians would unlock the doors of this city to us, as a city that is a hub for artists and musicians from across the world. We have met many people through jam sessions, meeting at performances and busking on the streets. It made sense, through the support of European Christian Mission, to do a jazz recording, bringing God’s word though original jazz music.

The Berlin Psalm Project was born out of the desire to write creative music for “Kiez Church Wedding”, an established church in the north of Berlin. Even though we are now, along with a great leadership team, pastoring this church, we still want to maintain our “missionary heart” and be present with the lost people of this city. Reaching people through music is the language we know best!

Recording the Psalms in the studio.

The Psalms are the songs of the Bible. They reflect the deepest yearnings of the heart of humanity. They express the desperate cries to God for salvation and the outbursts of joy of being in his presence, to the overwhelming wonder of seeing his majesty and glory. For the believer, the Psalms are the words our mouths can’t find, the relief of coming into what it means to really worship the Lord. He is the object of our worship, only him.

How can Psalms then be used for evangelism? My prayer is that in hearing our music, written and performed for God’s glory, people would be touched by a deep, deep sense of nostalgia for true worship. That the Holy Spirit would speak through the Bible (he always does), and for people to be cut to the heart and want to know what it is they have been missing their whole lives – to encounter Christ.

As often happens, the project grew bigger and bigger. We gathered together a group of local musicians to play the music, going from a group of five to a group of seven, including a three-piece horn section.

We believe it’s a ripe time and place to be performing the Psalms.

Despite the very clear Christian lyrics straight from the Psalms (apart from one about Jesus’ second coming), the musos were very keen to be a part of the project. In Germany, despite the pervasive secular atheism that is normalised here, there is a strong biblical and church music heritage, so we believe it’s a ripe time and place to be performing the Psalms.

A few nights ago, a dear friend of ours who is not yet a Christian came over for a visit. We longed to give him a sneak preview of a couple of the songs from the Berlin Psalm Project. He’s had a rough life and his reaction to the music was priceless – probably not appropriate to write in a Christian publication! But his expletives mixed with his tears were, for me, high praise indeed!

The album will be released in April either to stream or buy. The album will be launched at one of the leading jazz clubs in Berlin on 14 May. We will be touring the album at live events in Australia at the end of 2024, in Perth, Adelaide and Sydney. We then hope to tour Germany in 2025.

Ali and her husband Rich are missionaries with European Christian Mission based in Berlin. Read more about this project here.