Today, as this is first published, a group of family and friends will gather at Crievewood Baptist Church, in Nashville, to celebrate the life of one of the greats in Baptist music history – LeRoy McClard. To capture all of the churches and people touched by this giant over the course of his life would take more words than allowed in a space like this. So, what is the fitting way to celebrate a man who influenced the music of Southern Baptist Churches (and beyond) in ways only measured by adjectives?
I think in this case one simple, yet profound, phrase will do – Jesus Is Lord of All.
It’s hymn numbered 294 in the 2008 Baptist Hymnal and was written by LeRoy McClard. For 25 years, LeRoy served the Church Music Department of the Baptist Sunday School Board in various roles and responsibilities. Before that, he served the Arkansas Baptist Convention as State Music Director after serving churches in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The list of accomplishments is impressive and the list of people hired and mentored by this man, even more so. If you’re one of those people who likes to measure the impact of a man by the accomplishments of those he invested in, you will find a gold mine in LeRoy McClard.
One of those special people is Mark Willard – now a Worship Pastor at Sherwood Baptist Church and the grandson of LeRoy. It would be hard to say which man was more proud of the other – LeRoy of Mark or Mark of his grandfather. In any case, Mark carries on the family tradition of writing songs for churches to sing – as a writer for LifeWay. As a matter of fact, Mark is leading our worship times at Ridgecrest this year (for our Worship Week Conference). He is also teaching in our breakout sessions – something his grandfather did for Southern Baptists more than 30 times.
In the first stanza of LeRoy’s classic hymn,he wrote, “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.” LeRoy knows this in ways he had only accepted by faith…until now.
Today, we will gather with many of those people so impacted by this humble servant. We will sing this hymn as LeRoy first penned it years ago. We will share it with all of the heart and conviction of belief we can muster – the way he would have wanted it to be sung.
“Jesus is Lord of all, Jesus is Lord of all; Lord of my thoughts and my service each day, Jesus is Lord of all.”
Thank you, LeRoy.
Director, LifeWay Worship