It’s rare to come across a foreword that so powerfully shapes how you read what follows. This one tells the story of the author, Don Purdey, passionately worshipping God, despite the slurred speech cruelly brought on by motor neurone disease. It adds that the last page of the book, where Purdey quotes 2 Timothy 4:6-8 (“the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight”) was open on his computer on the day he died in July 2014.
Against this backdrop, Don’t Fret: The worship leader’s pocketbook – written by Purdey after retiring early because of the disease – rings with poignancy. It’s based on more than 30 years of involvement in worship music and 16 years in ordained ministry, which makes this book accessible for readers of all ages, traditions, denominations and backgrounds.
The first half focuses on the meaning of worship and how the church service, including confession and the offering, is geared around this. The second half concentrates on the musical and technical side.
This comprehensive guide covers everything from key changes and suggested songs to tips for reading scripture and displaying lyrics. While this may sound overly prescriptive, Purdey is highlighting issues that can too often be overlooked, and he does so with a light, sensitive touch. There’s also a welcome spread of anecdotes – including some confessions.
Having been written a decade ago, recent developments (like music tracks) are not covered. But this doesn’t detract from what a wonderful book this is, by someone whose life and words embodied true worship. Whatever our church background, we can all be susceptible to the pitfalls of getting stuck in our comfort zone or veering towards performance. This pocketbook will help keep you in check.