A Church that Teachers her Sons to Sing

During my Dad’s last months on earth and now in his last days and moments, our family has been incredibly encouraged by the songs of the church. In our family’s journey this is no accident or result of little effort. In God’s incredible and beautiful Sovereignty He provided a rich musical environment for my brothers and I. We had remarkably rich musical experiences in a small church in Metairie, LA named Highland Baptist Church, and our journey at FBC Ellisville was simply incredible. It is true that before 12 we were pushed to excellence with challenging handbell music, breathing exercises, and encouragement to embrace proclamation in song at every turn. But as life unfolds I increasingly recognize that the most important thing we learned in a church that expected every boy and man to sing was the comfort the hymns and songs of the faith bring in our darkest hour. I am particularly partial to the hymns of the faith in this regard, and those who know my ministry context know that I embrace relevance in worship ministries, but at our darkest hour it is incredibly important to be able to lock arms across generations and sing the great hymns of the faith. Great is Thy Faithfulness  has been particularly comforting for our family. This afternoon as the brothers Wood(ward) rushed to Pearl, MS to be at our mother’s side, It Is Well with My Soul seemed most appropriate. An incredible marvelous thought entered my mind this afternoon as mom and the three brothers were drawing comfort through prayer: How incredible in God’s Sovereignty that  He  would have  placed her sons in a church that  taught  her sons to sing. Do you see the beauty, the power of this concept? A church that  teaches her sons to sing will be comforted by those self-same sons in her darkest hours. Literally as saints pass from this world to our eternal home they will be comforted by the songs of the church sung by her sons. This is a heritage, which I was not only born to continue, but the Lord literally shaped my journey to allow me to see the vital role of the songs of the church. I would always want to be mindful not to raise the importance of a church song beyond which it should  be viewed under the supremacy of Christ in all and through all, and no doubt the best song sung is the life lived well for our Lord, as Clement would remind us, but truly no greater instrument hath the Lord given us than that of faith sung by the church’s sons.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Tim Johnson on August 19, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Thank you for this post brother. Great is Thy Faithfulness was one of the songs that Mary Beth and I were able to cling to during the loss of our two daughters this last year. As worship leaders we must be both cautious and intentional in singing/teaching songs to the church that move believers past the emotional high of the moment and into a deeper knowledge of the character of God. I have found that It is not the emotional highs of our worship experiences that will carry us through difficult times, but rather that deeper understanding of God and His character. He is good and He is faithful. Praying for you and the rest of the Woodward family. Love you guys.


  2. Thank you, Greg, for this wonderful testimony of the comfort God brings through music. In my father’s last days, I had him “teach” me the shaped note concept that had come to be dear to him and we sang How Great Thou Art together just days before he went to be with the Lord. My brother and I were able to gather around my mother when she was in a coma and join in son, prayer and scripture, which I am confident she was able to hear. Can’t say who needed the songs more, but I know God’s grace was marvelously evident. We continue to pray for you and your family during this time.


  3. Dr. Woodward, I just learned this morning of your fathers passing. Words cannot express the what it means to have had such a great role model to follow, such as your dad. Know that we, your students, are keeping you and your family in our prayers; not only today, but through the weeks and months ahead. During your fathers last breath, his song changed from “Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King,” to “I’ve just seen Jesus!!” May God bless and keep you in His arms during this time.


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