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.

December 2017 Newsletter (Year B)
Mountains and Joy, by Pastor Bruce Benson

"Climb to the top of the highest mountain,
Joyous tidings proclaim to the world,
Lift up your voice, shout the good news:
Behold, your Lord comes to you."
-Isaiah 40, adapted by Carolyn Jennings

When the writers of the New Testament gospels – all of them – borrowed language and imagery from the prophet Isaiah to tell the story of Jesus, they couldn’t have known how influential that borrowing would become as the early Church began to celebrate Advent and Christmas. By describing John the Baptist, for example, with words from Isaiah 40 – the voice crying in the wilderness – the Gospel writers invited preachers, poets and artists to make use of Isaiah’s language in this season of “preparing the way of the Lord.” 

The choral anthem, Climb to the Top of the Highest Mountain, quoted above, is one of many, many choral or congregational works for the Advent and Christmas season that, like the gospel writers, borrows imagery and language from Isaiah. Why not? Isaiah’s language is both beautiful and effective. As such, it doesn’t exactly need music, it speaks eloquently on its own; but it does welcome music, especially music as lovely, as moving, as what Carolyn Jennings has composed. 

If this particular composition is unfamiliar to you it isn’t singing silently in your memory right now as it is in mine. I cannot read the words at the top of this page without simultaneously hearing the music in my head, and even feeling it in my body. You can hear it too, and feel it, on the program we have recorded for the Second Sunday in Advent (the second Sunday in December). And it is on the CD that Sing For Joy is offering as a thank you gift this season for contributions to the program. 

It is impossible to describe music in words, and I would be foolish to think I can.  Only music describes music. Still, knowing I am going to fail doesn’t always mean I shouldn’t try. There is something about the music – I think it is the steady beat, the steady rhythm of the grounding accompaniment – that makes it feel like music that is walking, but without drudgery; walking, but maybe dancing a bit at the same time. There is an emphasis on the first beat of each measure, as well as a secondary emphasis on the second beat – it feels a bit like walking, slowly. But the music itself is in ¾ time, like a dance or lullaby. That combination feels exactly right for a text that invites the listener (following Isaiah’s call) to climb, on foot, one step at a time, to the top of the highest mountain, not to conquer it or prove one’s strength, but from there, “joyous tidings proclaim to the world.” The text concludes with these words: 

"He will love the little children,
He will hold them in his arms,
Love him and trust him as a child,
Behold, your Lord comes to you."

Sing for joy this holy season!

Peace be with you,




Pastor Bruce Benson

Support Sing for Joy

Sing For Joy is supported by listeners like you. When you give to Sing For Joy you are saying yes to great sacred choral music. Have questions or want to donate by phone? Call us at 507-786-2600.

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December Playlists and Programs

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

December 3, 2017: First Sunday of Advent (Year B)

December 10, 2017: Second Sunday of Advent (Year B)

December 17, 2017: Third Sunday of Advent (Year B)

December 24, 2017: Nativity of Our Lord — Proper 1 (Year B)

December 31, 2017: First Sunday of Christmas (Year B)

Connect with Sing For Joy!

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We are in the midst of our fall fund drive. Please consider a gift and help us make our goal of $12,000 by the end of December! It is easy to give online at
Lanterns and candle on altar of Boe Memorial Chapel at St. Olaf College
Memorials and Honorariums

Thank you for your gifts in memory and honor of those close to your heart.


Eugene Benbow

Reverend Dr. Alvin Rueter

Dr. Alvin Charles Rueter

Roy and Dee Wehrkamp, my parents


Pastor Bruce Benson

To include an honorarium or memorial when you give to Sing For Joy, simply include the name(s) and occasion(s) in the comment box, as well as who should receive an acknowledgement letter and a mailing address.

Donations can celebrate a personal milestone such as an anniversary or birthday, or honor a loved one who perhaps also enjoyed music, all while furthering the Sing For Joy mission to bring sacred choral music to listeners around the world.

Sing For Joy is sponsored by:

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