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: August 2016 / Year C
Bruce Benson Host Photo
by Pastor Bruce Benson, host

"Music ... is able to express the web of emotion that gets woven wherever fear and hope dwell together, wherever grief and gratitude share space in one human heart."                                        

I’ve been reading Old Testament history this summer. Ongoing archaeological and cultural research keeps shedding new light on old stories, and it’s all quite interesting. When my reading arrived at the era known as the exile and post-exilic period, I smiled reading these words by George Mendenhall about Isaiah 40 (text printed below playlists): “The beauty of this passage can only be adequately rendered in something as majestic as Handel’s oratorio Messiah — nothing but music can approach what is achieved in this beautiful lyric poetry.”

I have also been driving back roads in Minnesota’s North Country. In late June and early July, roadsides are joyously awash in wildflowers. Daisies, columbine, hawkweed, buttercup and lupine splash like streams of color along every sunny road. Driving through such country, one is inclined to say the same thing about road ditches that Mendenhall says about Isaiah 40: nothing but music can approach what is achieved in this beautiful floral poetry.

I suppose fans of Van Gogh or Monet would beg to differ, arguing that their painters also were up to the task of capturing the glory of a floral landscape, but musicians would likely say in return that there is a musical quality to paintings that enables a visual work of art to “sing.” Let the debate continue; there are no losers in this one.

Art — musical, visual, choreographic or literary — communicates not just beauty, of course. As lovely and comforting as Isaiah’s poetry is, just below the surface is the ache of people in exile, the grief of people in mourning, the anxiety of people in doubt. And this surely must be why music is so regularly called upon to help communicate complex emotional or existential realities. Music, perhaps even more than poetry, is able to express the web of emotion that gets woven wherever fear and hope dwell together, wherever grief and gratitude share space in one human heart.

If religion ushered us into a realm of utter clarity rather than to a place where, as the Apostle Paul puts it, “we see, in a mirror dimly” it could be that music would have less of a role to play. As it is, however, the poetry of Isaiah, full of longing, worry and grace all bound up together needs the gift of music to speak the word the way it wants to be spoken. Even with something as simple as a roadside ditch — a place you don’t often find yourself unless something has gone wrong, but where, full of flowers, is a place of beauty — music again is best able to speak the whole truth. 

We hope Sing For Joy shares that wholeness with you each week, summertime and all the time.

Peace be with you,

Bruce Benson Signature
Pastor Bruce Benson

August 7, 2016

Time After Pentecost — Lectionary 19 (Year C)

(1R) Genesis 15:1–6
(PS) Psalm 33:12–22
(2R) Hebrews 11:1–3, 8–16
(G) Luke 12:32–40

Keep Your Lamps – African American Spiritual / André Thomas, arranger (G)
Massed Choirs of St. Olaf College: Northfield, MN / Christopher Aspaas
(CD) My Spirit Sings of Wondrous Things / ST. OLAF RECORDS / E-3316/7
© 2008 St. Olaf Records

Many and Great, O God, Are Thy Works (LA QUI PARLE) Dakota Nation Traditional /
Joseph R. Renville, lyricist / John Ferguson, arranger
St. Olaf Cantorei: Northfield, MN / John Ferguson
(CD) Saint Cecilia Organ Festival, Volume III / SCHOLA CANTORUM RECORDINGS / SCR 0303
© 2003 Schola Cantorum Recordings

The Celestial Country: Glories on GloriesCharles Ives / Bernard of Cluny, lyricist (2R)
The St. Olaf Choir: Northfield, MN / Anton Armstrong
(CD) Charles Ives - The Celestial Country; Silence Accompanied / LINN RECORDS / CKD 203
© 2002 Linn Records

Songs of Farewell: My Soul, There is a Country C. Hubert H. Parry / Henry Vaughan, lyricist (2R)
The Princeton Singers: Princeton, NJ / John Bertalot
(CD) All Creation Rejoices / PRINCETON SINGERS / PSACR93
© 1993 Princeton Singers

Es ist das Heil (Salvation To Us Has Come), BWV 251 (ES IST DAS HEIL) German Traditional /
Paul Speratus, lyricist / Johann Sebastian Bach, arranger
Figuralchor der Gedächtniskirche / Helmuth Rilling
(CD) Lobe Den Herren / CANTATE / C 57617
© 1996 Cantate

Who Would True Valour See (MONKS GATE) English Traditional / John Bunyan, lyricist /
Ralph Vaughan Williams, arranger
Cardiff Festival Choir / Robert Court, accompanist / Owain Arwel Hughes
(CD) Hymns of Vaughan Williams / CARLTON CLASSICS / 30367 01222
© 1997 Carlton Classics

Have No Fear, Little Flock (LITTLE FLOCK) Heinz Werner Zimmermann /
Heinz Werner Zimmermann, lyricist / Marjorie Jillson, lyricist / Larry L. Fleming, arranger
The National Lutheran Choir: Minneapolis, MN / Larry L. Fleming
© National Lutheran Choir Recordings

I Wanna Be ReadyAfrican American Spiritual / James Miller, arranger (G)
Musicians of Melodious Accord / Sharmane Davis, soprano / Alice Parker
(CD) Spiritual Songs / MUSICAL HERITAGE SOCIETY / MHS 512412K
© 1989 Musical Heritage Society


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August 14, 2016

Time After Pentecost — Lectionary 20 (Year C)

(1R) Jeremiah 23:23–29
(PS) Psalm 82
(2R) Hebrews 11:29–12:2
(G) Luke 12:49–56
(M) Mary, Mother of our Lord; Assumption  

Fight the Good Fight – John Gardner / John S. B. Monsell, lyricist (2R)
Choir of Yorkminster Park Baptist Church / Ronald S. Jordan, accompanist / Catherine M. Palmer
(CD) Bless Ye The Lord / MARQUIS CLASSICS / 7 7471-81243-2 6
© 1991 Marquis Classics

Jesus, Lead the Way (SEELENBRÄUTIGAM) – Adam Drese / Nicolaus L. von Zinzendorf, lyricist /
Richard Proulx, arranger (2R)
Saint Thomas Singers: Medina, WA / Brass Ensemble, ensemble / Paul Olson, accompanist /
Richard Proulx
(CD) Proulx: Music for Liturgy / GIA PUBLICATIONS / GIA CD-283
© 1992 GIA Publications

The Morning Trumpet – B.F. White / John Leland, lyricist (2R)
The National Lutheran Choir: Minneapolis, MN / Larry L. Fleming
© National Lutheran Choir Recordings

Precious Lord, Take My Hand (MAITLAND) – Thomas A. Dorsey / George N. Allen /
Thomas A. Dorsey, lyricist / Arnold Sevier, arranger (G)
Choir of Foundry United Methodist Church: Washington, D.C / Eileen Guenther
(CD) The Promise of Living: American Songs of Faith / ETHEREAL RECORDINGS / ER-118
© 1998 Ethereal Recordings

Messiah: Why Do the Nations So Furiously Rage? – George Frideric Handel (G)
The English Concert / John Tomlinson, bass / Trevor Pinnock
(CD) Messiah / ARCHIV / 423 630-2
© 1988 Archiv, Universal Music Group

Ave Maria, Op. 52, No. 6 – Franz Schubert / Thelma Owen, arranger (M)
Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano / Thelma Owen, accompanist
(CD) Ave Maria / PHILIPS / 412 629-2
© 1984 Philips, PolyGram Records, Inc.

All Night Vigil: Bogoróditse Dévo (Rejoice, O Virgin), Op. 37 – Sergei Rachmaninoff (M)
The St. Olaf Choir: Northfield, MN / Anton Armstrong
(CD) Concert Recording from Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim, Norway / ST. OLAF COLLEGE /
© 2013 St. Olaf College


“Rarely is one word enough, but when eloquent music gets ahold of it, one good word can express more than entire pages of chatter.”
-Pastor Bruce Benson

August 21, 2016

Time After Pentecost — Lectionary 21 (Year C)

(1R) Isaiah 58:9b–14
(PS) Psalm 103:1–8
(2R) Hebrews 12:18–29
(G) Luke 13:10–17

How Firm a Foundation (FOUNDATION)American Traditional / American Folk Hymn, lyricist /
Alice Parker, arranger
The Hillsdale Arts Chorale: Hillsdale, MI / Howard J. Rizner
(CD) Songs of Faith / HILLSDALE ARTS CHORALE / 334D2
© Hillsdale Arts Chorale

Let Us Break Bread Together (BREAK BREAD TOGETHER) African American Spiritual /
Mark Milosevich, arranger
Choirs and Congregation of Grace Episcopal Church: Charleston, SC / J. Scott Bennett, accompanist /
J. Scott Bennett

(CD) O For a Thousand Tongues / PRO ORGANO / CD 7148
© 2002 Pro Organo

Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise (ST. DENIO) Welsh Traditional / Walter Chalmers Smith, lyricist (2R)
Halifax Choral Society / Darius Battiwalla, accompanist / John Pryce-Jones
(CD) Songs of Praise / NAXOS / 8.553876
© 1998 Naxos, Naxos of America, Inc.

Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen African American Spiritual / Roger Wagner, arranger (G)
The Wartburg Choir: Waverly, IA / Paul Torkelson
(CD) The Wartburg Choir: 1999 Concert Tour / WARTBURG COLLEGE / E-2324
© 1999 Wartburg College

AlleluiaRandall Thompson (G)
Voices of Ascension: New York, NY / Dennis Keene
(CD) Hear My Prayer / DELOS / DE 3300
© 2005 Delos, Delos Productions, Inc.


“Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
in light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.”
-Walter C. Smith

August 28, 2016

Time After Pentecost — Lectionary 22 (Year C)

(1R) Proverbs 25:6–7 or Sirach 10:12–18
(PS) Psalm 112
(2R) Hebrews 13:1–8, 15–16
(G) Luke 14:1, 7–14

Gather Us In (GATHER US IN)Marty Haugen / Marty Haugen, lyricist (1R)
The St. Olaf Choir: Northfield, MN / John Ferguson, organ / Anton Armstrong
(CD) Great Hymns of Faith: Volume III / ST. OLAF RECORDS / E-3386
© 2011 St. Olaf Records

The Crucifixion: He Made Himself of No Reputation Sir John Stainer /
William Sparrow Simpson, lyricist / Barry M. Rose, arranger
The Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra, ensemble / Barry Rose
(CD) The Crucifixion: John Stainer / LAMMAS RECORDS / LAMM 154D
© 2003 Lammas Records

The Life of Christ: Live a-Humble (Healed the Sick) African American Spiritual /
Roland Hayes, arranger
Charles Holland, tenor / Dennis Russell Davies, piano
(CD) My Lord What a Mornin' / MUSICAL HERITAGE SOCIETY / MHS 512250K
© 1988 Musical Heritage Society

Beatus Vir Jean Langlais (PS)
The Choir of St. John's College / Alexander Martin, accompanist / George Guest
(CD) The Sound of St. John's / NIMBUS RECORDS / NI 5335
© 1992 Nimbus Records

Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life (GARDINER) William Gardiner / Frank Mason North, lyricist / John Ayer, arranger (G)
The Memphis Boychoir: Memphis, TN / David J. Kienzle, accompanist / John Ayer
(CD) Great Cathedral Music: A Memphis Choral Tour / PRO ORGANO / CD 7053
© 1994 Pro Organo

O God Beyond All Praising (THAXTED) Gustav Holst / Michael Perry, lyricist /
Richard Proulx, arranger
The Cathedral Singers: Chicago, IL / Richard Proulx
(CD) Rare Beasts & Unique Adventures: Volume 2 / GIA PUBLICATIONS / GIA CD-468
© 2000 GIA Publications

Isaiah 40
Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her
that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

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In Memory Of:

Charles Bates, class of 1952
Ruth Kuhlman Bates, class of 1954
Angelo & Gladys Cavallini
Julius & Helen Kittler
Roger Kittler

In Honor Of:

David Abel (my son), on his birthday, August 28
Reba Brunk, RN
Mrs. Julia Williams

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