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.

September 2017 Newsletter (Year A)
Pastor Bruce Benson
Busy Seasons, by Pastor Bruce Benson

I’m sure that for quite a few readers of this newsletter, and many listeners of Sing For Joy, the resumption of school in the quickly approaching days makes little or no difference in daily life. Those for whom the school year makes the biggest difference — parents, teachers and students — are often so busy at this time of year that they hardly have time to read their own school newsletters, to say nothing of this one.

Busyness, though it can get in the way of listening, and frustrate attentiveness, is not always a foe of music making and music enjoyment. Busyness, in fact, is often appreciative of good music. I don’t mean simply that when you need to get a lot done in a hurry it helps to crank up the volume on, say, “The William Tell Overture” and adjust your work to that speed. Rhythm, however, is what I have in mind.

Let’s turn first of all to up-tempo music, or better yet, music with a lot of notes — that is, not so many whole and half notes, and lots of eighth and sixteenth notes. It is likely that we appreciate such music not only because it “gets the blood moving” as they say, but also because it offers a kind of genuine approval of busy seasons in our own lives. I know we most often use the word busy in a pejorative sense. That could be a leftover from our own childhoods when we were told so often that our parent, another adult or our older sibling was “busy.” That childhood experience is suggested in the New Testament. When children are brought to Jesus one day, his disciples seem to think that he is far too busy to be bothered with a bunch of kids. Busy. We know it is possible to be too busy, and we know that our busyness can have a negative effect not just on children but on us too. It isn’t just someone else’s busyness that becomes our problem, busyness can make us a problem to ourselves as well. And yet, there are times when busyness simply is expected of us. It is the proper response to what life sets in front of us. It is then, I think, when music full of notes and in a hurry can give us encouragement. See, it says, doing a lot in a short time can be beautiful and meaningful. It isn’t always frantic or exhausting.

But sometimes it is. And then there is other wonderful music that our busyness finds healing. For those who are bored, an elegiac adagio, for example, probably serves only to induce more listlessness, but for a busy person it is balm. It is an oasis. It can even give someone courage to take a step back from a life that is too busy, and be happier with one that is simply busy.

It is no new insight to note here that the world of the Bible and the world of music see human life in similar ways. Sometimes a full busy life is just what is called for, other times a slower tempo opens our eyes and ears to aspects of life we miss when we hurry.

Whether the upcoming days of September call you into busyness or calm, there is grace (and music) for the season.

Peace be with you, 

Pastor Bruce Benson

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September Playlists and Programs

Playlists are ready now, and each show will become available to stream on the Friday before the week begins. 

September 3, 2017: Time After Pentecost — Lectionary 22 (Year A)

September 10, 2017: Time After Pentecost — Lectionary 23 (Year A)

September 17, 2017: Time After Pentecost — Lectionary 24 (Year A)

September 24, 2017: Time After Pentecost — Lectionary 25 (Year A)

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