Jesus is Lord of All!
My two blogs (http://www.tunemyhearttosing.org) this week very much compliment one another in that Sunday was Easter – high celebration of the resurrection, triumphal reminder that Jesus IS LORD OF ALL. Then on Monday afternoon I had the honor and privilege of participating in the memorial service of Brother Leroy McClard, longtime church musician and author – composer of the hymn, Jesus Is Lord of All. What a blessing to stand before several of our Tennessee Mens Chorale who joined in shared ministry of song, as well as numerous other church musicians, all singing together this great hymn composed by the one whose passing brought us together the day after Easter Sunday.
Leroy was truly a gentle giant of Church Music. In healthier days his stature exemplified something of the man inside. He was tall and athletic. Though his size could even be considered imposing, he was nevertheless gentle, kind, and a constant encourager. His church leadership and denominational career, especially in the field of Church Music demonstrates his commitment to excellence, his sensitivity to human dynamics, and his devotion to His Lord. As a local church Minister of Music, a national publishing house consultant at Baptist Sunday School Board (Lifeway), state denominational music leader having served two different states – Arkansas and Illinois, and as a church member, Leroy was a gifted servant-leader.
My first recollection of meeting Leroy was during Church Music Week at Glorieta when I served as Associate Pastor for Worship & Music in Kansas. He found ways to connect with my parents’ Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwest Baptist College roots, and I felt as if I had known Leroy as a family friend. He could connect with people, expressing interest in their life and involvements. I hosted Musicians on Mission while serving my Kansas church, and also was connected to Leroy during numerous other Church Music involvements. His encouragement and affirmation was something I held as treasure, even though I knew full well this was his common practice with all music ministers. He still had a way of making you feel special, important, but in what you were about as a church musician. What a pleasant and welcome joy it was to reconnect with Leroy when I moved back to my home state of Tennessee to become Director of Worship & Music Ministries, and to know of his close proximity and openness to share ideas, concerns, and support for my involvement as a state leader. Having his son-in-law, David Willard actively involved in the Tennessee Men’s Chorale and Baptist Church Music Conference just cemented our friendship all the more. That connection was magnified when he asked if I would be willing to consider serving as an interim at his home church, Crievewood Baptist in Nashville. He was part of the choir, and a faithful laymen, serving even as a senior adult department music leader right up to the end of healthy days. Truly a gentle giant. That spirit included his support and confidence, even when he was physically unable to continue as he desired.
Though Leroy’s whole life was a testimony to God’s sovereign guidance and the faithful discipleship and stewardship of that life, he was perhaps most widely known for a hymn that he wrote in the span of thirty minutes. As with many great works of art expression, the hymn no doubt was germinating in his mind and spirit for sometime before the actual capturing of the words and music on paper. The hymn, Jesus Is Lord of All, is a wonderful expression of Christian worship. I love its inclusive embrace of large and small, loud and soft, majesty and intimacy. Jesus is Lord of all. Doesn’t get much broader than that. Yet He is “Lord of my thoughts and my service each day,” and available to you, “on Him you too may call.”
In a time when there is more music written specifically with Christian worship expression in mind than ever before, I encourage you who have opportunity to place words and music on the lips and in the hearts of God’s people, to continue to use this wonderful worship hymn. It places our personal and community expression in proper perspective in submission to the Lordship of Christ. As you prayerfully consider its use in worship, remember that it was penned by one of our own, a gentle giant who cared deeply about how music was used to appropriately hymn our Lord, express our submissive humility, and develop our spirit of followship to the Lord of life. Thank you, dear Lord, for the joy and instruction offered in knowing Leroy McClard. Thank you for the memories of his influence, and for the wonderful hymn with which we can sing worship to you, our Lord of all.
1 Jesus is Savior and Lord of my life,
My hope, my glory, my all;
Wonderful Master in joy and in strife,
On Him, you too, may call.
Jesus is Lord of all,
Jesus is Lord of all;
Lord of my thoughts and my service each day,
Jesus is Lord of all.
2 Blessed Redeemer, all glorious King,
Worthy of reverence I pay;
Tribute and praises I joyfully bring
To Him, the Life, the Way.[Chorus]
3 Will you surrender your all to Him now?
Follow His will and obey,
Crown Him as Sovereign, before His throne bow;
Give Him your heart today.[Chorus]
Source: Baptist Hymnal 2008 #294