I was at a men’s conference last weekend. There were some strong points to the event as well as some points that should have been amended, or even dropped. The conference brought in some musicians from another church in the state, which is fine, but these musicians played mostly songs from their church’s favorite list. They were all into it, the men standing around me were largely quiet, watching the performance.
And that’s what it was. A performance. This was not them leading this gathering of around 500 men in worship. It was them performing their greatest hits for us.
In contrast, the best conference I have been to has been the Shepherd’s Conference at John MacArthur’s church. And that is the best conference that I have attended in every regard, not just the music. But music is the point of this post.
The music at the Shepherd’s Conference is primarily hymns. Hymns were written specifically to be sung by a wide variety of people with a wide variety of vocal ranges, together. So the tunes tend toward simplicity and the words are front and center. There are hymns out there with atrocious theology, yes, but those are not the ones chosen for any conference, or for any church that is worth attending.
It has been probably 15 years since I attended a Shepherd’s Conference and I still fondly recall the few moments when I stopped singing and just listened to all the voices around me, drowning out the accompanying music. It was glorious!
And on to the final days of a person’s life. I recently stepped down as an elder in a local church. I dear old woman was in hospice care and I met with her family and her life group leader in her room. I had to call several churches to find a hymnal that we could borrow, and we gathered together and sang some of her favorites. Some were songs I didn’t know, but I quickly caught up and joined in. That is the power of a simple worship song.
Related: I recently bought this hymnal for my personal use. I suggest any Christian find a hymnal wherever they can. Second hand book stores might have them. Older churches may have some that they could part with. And also look for examples of the Psalter. If you can sing along with your Bible as your Hymnal, so much the better!