Every year I spend about six months wondering who in the world will fill the shoes of the previous year’s special guest on the Behold the Lamb of God tour. I used to stress about it for six months, but it always works out so now I just wonder. We’ve been blessed not only with the crazy talent of the yearly band and artists, but since this thing started we’ve been joined by some amazing special guests—and most of them ended up on the tour due to some pretty random occurrences. Either I bumped into someone around town or sent them a text or they came to mind while I was jogging. My son Aedan is responsible for Thad Cockrell being on the tour this year. Here’s how it went down.
Carly, the songleader at the 12 South congregation of Midtown Fellowship, does a fantastically understated job of choosing songs and leading the music. There for a while we sang a few old hymns and gospel songs that I was surprised I’d never heard. The first was called “Oh To Be Loved,” a slow and simple waltz that was comforting and sad at the same time: “He knows the names of my sorrows / he knows the names of my fears / Why should I let them bother me? / For I know he is near.” Simple, direct, and the melody suits it perfectly.
Another old standard that I had apparently missed when I was growing up was “The Master’s Calling.”
Listen while you still can hear Listen while you still can hear The Master’s calling The Master’s calling Bow down while your knees still bend Bow down while your knees still bend The Master’s calling The Master’s calling I don’t wanna walk away Walk away from Him No, I don’t wanna walk away Don’t wanna walk away from Him Bind me to your side Bind me to your side Seek him though your eyes don’t see Seek him though your eyes don’t see The Master’s calling The Master’s calling Praise him while your lips still sing Praise him while your lips still sing The Master’s calling The Master’s calling
Once again, the straightforward and repetitive words are upheld by a pleasing melody that soothes you even as the lyric demands a response.
Lastly, Carly led us in a song called “Great Rejoicing,” about heaven and forgiveness and joy—somehow made the more beautiful by the sadness that haunts the edges of the music. I’ve ugly cried from my pew as I joined my voice with the saints and sang these words:
Someday you will find me Guarded in His fortress Open heart and wings That never touch the ground Someday we will gather In a grand reunion Debts of this old world Are nowhere to be found Nowhere to be found There’s gonna be a great rejoicing…
Well, one Sunday Carly wasn’t there, so a singer/songwriter named Thad Cockrell led the music. One of the songs he played was the first one I mentioned, “Oh To Be Loved,” and that was when I realized that he had written it. I could hardly believe that the song wasn’t a hundred years old! Then I discovered that “The Master’s Calling” and “A Great Rejoicing” were his songs, too, so that day I bought Thad’s album To Be Loved and became a huge fan.
About a month ago I went to bed wondering (not stressing!) about who would be the special guest on the tour. I had asked a few friends and they weren’t available, so time was getting tight. Aedan happened to get up before me the next morning, and as usual he turned on iTunes and listened to a random album while he did his homework. I heard Thad’s voice echoing through the house, his high and lonesome tenor reminding me that there was going to be a great rejoicing someday. I sent him a text and asked if he would hop on the bus.
He agreed, and in my house there was a great rejoicing.