John Michael Talbot soothes spirits at Institute

A cell phone rang last Friday evening just as Christian musician John Michael Talbot was lyrically inviting about 500 concert-goers at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Peoria to “come to the quiet.”

“That had better be God calling,” dead-panned Talbot, continuing the soothing melody on his six-string guitar.

Many of those attending the concert or Talbot’s keynote talk at the 2009 Diocesan Summer Institute the following morning said they heard God calling through the music and the message of the bearded “Troubador of the Lord” who has sold more than four million records in three decades of making “Jesus music.”

The Summer Institute, sponsored annually by the diocesan Office of Catechetics, offers opportunities for spiritual growth and cathechetical training. This week’s issue of The Catholic Post includes two full pages of Institute coverage.

“If you ever think you’re unloved, stop it,” said Talbot, who in the early 1970s performed with the folk rock band Mason Proffit. “Jesus gave his life for you. That’s how loved you are. Don’t let the devil steal that gift.”

Talbot’s gift to concert and Institute attendees included vocally and instrumentally exquisite renditions of well-known Christian ballads including “Holy Is His Name” and “Christ Has No Body Now But Yours,” as well as newer works including one that invites listeners to “breathe in the Spirit of God” and “breathe out your sin.”

“If you’ve strayed, God is a God of mercy and forgiveness,” he said during the concert. “You can always come home.”

Acknowledging he is known for “quiet music,” he asked his listeners to “listen between the notes.”

“Jesus was proclaiming the Word even when he was silent,” said Talbot.

But a concert can’t be all meditative. During “Come Worship the Lord” Talbot had the crowd on its feet, swaying to the music with linked hands.

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