This Month's Newsletter

The monthly Sing For Joy newsletter contains a letter from the program's host, Pastor Bruce Benson, along with a listing of music selections for each program and the corresponding scripture readings. If you'd like to receive a complimentary subscription, fill out our online request form for either the print newsletter or the electronic newsletter.

The Sing For Joy Newsletter: March 2017 / Year A
Bruce Benson Host Photo
by Pastor Bruce Benson, host

A few months ago I mentioned that I was again teaching in a great books program at St. Olaf College. During January our class met every day, and the reading list was long. It included several of the great Roman writers — Livy, Vergil, Cicero, etc. — and much of the New Testament. I must admit that I enjoy hearing students report on that reading. Inevitably, it seems, when they sit down to read an entire gospel, then another and another, they are always surprised not just by the many differences between gospels, but also by the freshness and energy of the story of Jesus. Similarly, when they read, from beginning to end, Paul’s letters to the Romans, the Corinthians and the Galatians, they are surprised by the depth and carefully wrought arguments of his counsel. Oh, to be sure, they are also frustrated by his long, complex sentences. So is nearly everyone who has been charged with reading those sentences in public worship. They are not easy to read — even silently.

Several students did read aloud from Paul’s letters during class time. Each student was required once during the month to take a turn finding a suitable passage from that day’s reading for oral presentation during class. We heard speeches from Cicero, Marcus Aurelius, Matthew’s gospel and Paul’s letters, among others. It was a rich and rewarding experience, in no small measure simply because when words are spoken aloud, they “live” in a different way. Many students were truly startled by the difference it made to hear with the ear, not just see with the eye. Frequently during class, students would call attention to their experience of hearing a passage in a new way because they were truly hearing it. Sometimes it is the meaning of a sentence that changes with vocal inflection, other times it is the tone or aim or purpose of the whole speech that is interpreted by the voice.

The experience of having words come to life when voiced is familiar to singers and those who love singing because that’s what happens in music too. When a choir begins to learn a new piece of music it takes a while to get through the plain hard work of learning intervals, rhythms and dynamics, to say nothing of the words. But at some point in rehearsal, all that work gives rise to a new understanding. The choir starts to sing, and that is when the words begin to speak in ways they cannot when they are just words on a page. Oh yes, I do know that all singers have times when the voice keeps singing but the mind goes elsewhere, just as talkers can keep up a conversation while being mentally in another state. But the power of spoken and sung words remains strong. The Word still wants to be en-fleshed, and live among us — and it does. Sing for joy.

Peace be with you,

Bruce Benson Signature
Pastor Bruce Benson

March 5, 2017

First Sunday in Lent (Year A)

(1R) Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
(PS) Psalm 32
(2R) Romans 5:12-19
(G) Matthew 4:1-11

Forty Days and Forty Nights (HEINLEIN) – Martin Herbst / Francis Pott, lyricist (G)
Cantus Choro / Norman Kaye, accompanist / Peter Chapman
(CD) Hymns for All Seasons, Vol. 2 / MOVE RECORDS / MD 3062
© 1987 Move Records

For God Commanded Angels to Watch Over You – Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy /
Kenneth Jennings, arranger / Kenneth Jennings, translator (G)
The St. Olaf Choir: Northfield, MN / Anton Armstrong
(CD) Advance Australia Fair / ST. OLAF RECORDS / E-2173
© 1997 St. Olaf Records

May the Angels of God Watch Over You – William Bradley Roberts /
Shannon Sherwood Johnston, lyricist (G)
Choir of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square: Washington, DC / John Hutto
(CD) New American Choral Music Series: William Bradley Roberts / GOTHIC / G-49286
© 2013 Gothic, Gothic Records, Inc.

Messiah: Since by Man Came Death – George Frideric Handel (G)
Taverner Choir / The Taverner Players, ensemble / Andrew Parrott
(CD) Handel: Messiah / VIRGIN VERITAS / 7243 5 61330 2 0
© 1996 Virgin Veritas, Capitol EMI, Inc.

Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley – African American Spiritual / William L. Dawson, arranger (G)
Iepers Kamerkoor / Jeanette Thompson, soprano /
David Miller, accompanist / Dirk Coutigny
(CD) Negro Spirituals / PAVANE RECORDS / ADW 7267
© 1992 Pavane Records

In the Midst of New Dimensions (NEW DIMENSIONS) – Julian Rush / Julian Rush, lyricist /
Jeremy J. Bankson, arranger (G)
Plymouth Choir, First-Plymouth Congregational Church: Lincoln, NE / Plymouth Brass, First-Plymouth Congregational Church: Lincoln, NE, ensemble / Jeremy J. Bankson / Tom Trenney
(CD) Hymns from First-Plymouth / PRO ORGANO / CD 7260
© 2013 Pro Organo


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March 12, 2017

Second Sunday in Lent (Year A)

(1R) Genesis 12:1-4a
(PS) Psalm 121
(2R) Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
(G) John 3:1-17 or Matthew 17:1-9

God So Loved the World – Libby Larson (G)
St. Olaf Cantorei: Northfield, MN / John Ferguson
(CD) Through the Church the Song Goes On / ST. OLAF RECORDS / E-2801
© 2005 St. Olaf Records

What Wondrous Love (WONDROUS LOVE) – William Walker /
American Folk Hymn, lyricist / James Christopher, arranger (G)
Anonymous 4
(CD) American Angels: Songs of Hope, Redemption, & Glory /
© 2003 Harmonia Mundi

Witness – African American Spiritual / Jack Halloran, arranger (G)
VocalEssence Ensemble Singers: Minneapolis, MN / Sigrid Johnson
(CD) What a Mighty God: Spirituals and Gospels for Chorus /
© 2004 Clarion, Loft Recordings, LLC

God So Loved the World – Philip Stopford (G)
The Ecclesium Choir: Belfast, Northern Ireland / Philip Stopford
(CD) British Church Composer Series - Volume 2: Philip Stopford / PRIORY RECORDS, LTD. / PRCD 832
© 2005 Priory Records, Ltd.

Wondrous Cross: Arioso: God So Loved the World – Alan Bullard (G)
Marie Christie, soprano / Sarah MacDonald
(CD) Wondrous Cross: Sacred Choral Music by Alan Bullard /
© 2013 Regis

There’s A Wideness in God’s Mercy (ST. HELENA) – Calvin Hampton /
Frederick William Faber, lyricist (1R)
The Choirs of the Cathedral of St. Philip: Atlanta, GA / Robert L. Simpson
(CD) Great Hymns of the Church / CHURCH PUBLISHING COMPANY / ISBN: 0-89869-286-5
© 1996 Church Publishing Company

My Faith Looks Up to Thee (OLIVET) – Lowell Mason /
Ray Palmer, lyricist (G)
The St. Olaf Choir: Northfield, MN / Anton Armstrong
(CD) Great Hymns of Faith: Volume II / ST. OLAF RECORDS / E-2651
© 2004 St. Olaf Records


"The choir starts to sing, and that is when the words begin to speak.
-Pastor Bruce Benson

March 19, 2017

Third Sunday in Lent (Year A)

(1R) Exodus 17:1-7
(PS) Psalm 95
(2R) Romans 5:1-11
(G) John 4:5-42

Old American Songs, Set 2: At the River (HANSON PLACE) – Robert Lowry / Robert Lowry, lyricist / Aaron Copland, arranger (G)
William Warfield, baritone / Aaron Copland, piano
(CD) Modern American Vocal Works / SONY CLASSICAL / MHK 60899
© 1999 Sony Classical

Glories of Your Name Are Spoken (AUSTRIA) – Franz Joseph Haydn / John Newton, lyricist /
Robert Hobby, arranger (1R, G)
Choir of Trinity English Lutheran Church: Fort Wayne, IN / Robert Hobby
(CD) Thine Is the Glory: Music of Robert A. Hobby / MORNINGSTAR / CD-38-RH
© 1997 MorningStar

O Bread of Life from Heaven (O WELT, ICH MUSS DICH LASSEN) – Heinrich Isaac / Latin Hymn, lyricist / F. Melius Christiansen, arranger / Philip Schaff, translator (G)
The Augsburg Choir: Minneapolis, MN / The Gustavus Choir: St. Peter, MN / The Luther College Nordic Choir: Decorah, IA / The St. Olaf Choir: Northfield, MN / Kenneth Jennings
(CD) The F. Melius Christiansen 125th Anniversary Concert / ST. OLAF RECORDS / E-2146-7
© 1996 St. Olaf Records

And Can It Be (SAGINA) – Thomas Campbell / Charles Wesley, lyricist (2R)
The Riverton Singers / Reg Kliewer, accompanist / William Baerg
© Riverton Productions

O Come, Let us Sing unto the Lord – Anthony Piccolo (PS)
The Choir of St. Patrick’s Cathedral: New York, NY / Donald Dumler, accompanist / John Michael Caprio (CD) O Come Let Us Sing / GOTHIC / G 49091
© 1997 Gothic, Gothic Records, Inc.

All Night Vigil: Priidite, Poklonimsya (O Come, Let Us Worship), Op. 37
Sergei Rachmaninoff (G)
Robert Shaw Festival Singers / Robert Shaw
(CD) Vespers (All-night Vigil) / TELARC / CD-80172
© 1990 Telarc


"There's a wideness in God's mercy,
like the wideness of the sea.
There's a kindness in God's justice,
which is more than liberty.
-Frederick William Faber

March 26, 2017

Fourth Sunday in Lent (Year A)

(1R) 1 Samuel 16:1-13
(PS) Psalm 23
(2R) Ephesians 5:8-14
(G) John 9:1-41

Walk As Children of Light – Randall Thompson (2R) 
The St. Olaf Choir: Northfield, MN / Kenneth Jennings 
(CD) Out of Darkness, Let Light Shine / ST. OLAF RECORDS / E-1840 
© 1991 St. Olaf Records

Holy is the True Light – Gerald Near / G.H. Palmer, lyricist (2R) 
Cathedral Choir of the Cathedral of St. John: Albuquerque, NM / Maxine Thévenot 
(CD) The Immortal Air: Anthems and Canticles / RAVEN / OAR-954 
© 2013 Raven

Psalm 23 – Bill (Grayston) Ives (PS) 
The Choir of Magdalen College: Oxford, United Kingdom / Bill (Grayston) Ives 
(CD) Listen, Sweet Dove / HARMONIA MUNDI / HMU 907420 
© 2006 Harmonia Mundi

Come Open, Lord, the Heart and Ear (EISENACH) – J.H. Schein / Omer Westendorf, lyricist /
Johann Sebastian Bach, arranger (G) 
The Schola Cantorum of St. Peter the Apostle: Chicago, IL / Douglas S. Williams, accompanist /
J. Michael Thompson 
(CD) Music for Lent II: Singing the Order of Initiation of Adults / THE LITURGICAL PRESS / 7921-8 
© 1997 The Liturgical Press

Amazing Grace (NEW BRITAIN) – William Walker / John Newton, lyricist / John Rutter, arranger (G) 
The Cambridge Singers / Thelma Owen, accompanist / John Rutter 
(CD) Sing, Ye Heavens / COLLEGIUM RECORDS / COLCD 126 
© 2000 Collegium Records, Naxos of America, Inc.

Amazing Grace (Excerpt) (NEW BRITAIN) – Southern Harmony / John Newton, lyricist /
Joseph Jennings, arranger (G) 
Chanticleer: San Francisco, CA / Joseph Jennings 
(CD) How Sweet the Sound / TELDEC / 2-60309 
© 2004 Teldec, Teldec Classics International GMBH


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In Memory Of:

Chet Ackland
J. Robb Bartlett, who transitioned to heaven on August 2, 2016
Lola Fedde
Marilyn Haugen
Jennifer Koenig
Rev. Hubert C. Linn
Our parents
Rev. Paul H. Pittman, III

In Honor Of:

Dr. Matt Brittain
the ministers and staff at Christ Church
Mark Hall on his birthday
Hope Valley Baptist Church Choir, Durham, NC
school nurses everywhere

Sing For Joy® is sponsored by:

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Sukup Manufacturing Co., St. Olaf College and American Choral Directors Association (ACDA)