Newsletter Archives

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 to subscribe.

February 2019 Newsletter (Year C)
Forest Lessons, by Pastor Bruce Benson

“Blessed are those who trust in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.
They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream.”
-Jeremiah 17:7-8a

Those words from Jeremiah are nearly identical to words from Psalm 1, and both are scheduled for Sunday reading on the 17th of February this year. As a life-long tree lover — in junior high and high school I had three tree houses in one grand embracing maple, and another in my grandparents’ century-old oak — those biblical passages have always caught my attention, but they do so in a new way this year. I’ve been reading research on plant communication in forests. A formerly unknown world is being shown to me, and it has me thinking new thoughts about trees, and renewed thoughts about music and the “forest” of Bible stories.

In as brief a summary as I can manage, scientific discoveries have revealed that the “whole” of a forest is far greater than the sum of its parts. In other words, it is not just a bunch of individual trees towering over individual ferns, fungus and rotting leaves; it is a community. It communicates, it is in communion. Amazing. I admit that I still have favorite trees along trails I walk, individual trees still matter to me, but I am less likely now to “not see the forest for the trees.” 

In one way, the inter-connectedness of trees with each other and the world around them should not surprise me. Music is like a forest, and so is the Bible. If the individual elements of music — rhythm, melody, harmony, timbre, etc — are not in communication with each other, the result is not music but noise. It is the communication, the communion of the individual aspects with each other, that makes music. Similarly, the degree to which the written elements of a composition and the performer communicate with each other, the depth and quality of their communion, is the degree to which the music comes off the page, living and singing.

Bible verses and individual Bible stories are the same way. We all have favorites, but it is the way all those verses and stories live together that gives us what we call the biblical message, or The Gospel. Verses, for example, that if torn out of their biblical context could wound and injure, find a non-injurious place in the great “forest” of stories and commentary that has deep roots in the rich soil of love and grace. The “whole” matters.

Therefore, the Church reads more than a handful of favorite passages, working its way through much of the biblical account each year, and even more over the course of a three-year cycle. And along the way the Church has found more than a mere servant in good music; it has found a friend. The Bible has welcomed music into its “forest,” and music has just as thoroughly welcomed the Bible into its own. Neither is an invasive species in the other’s world. Sing For Joy happily lives in that life-enhancing woods, and is glad to live there with you.

Peace be with you,




Pastor Bruce Benson

Support Sing for Joy

Thank you to all who supported Sing For Joy during our fall fund drive. We met and exceeded our goal of $12,000 with $14,393 raised in listener gifts. Of course we welcome your support any time of year. All gifts go directly towards our operating budget that makes Sing For Joy possible. 

Have questions or want to donate by phone? Call us at 507-786-2600.

February Playlists and Programs

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

February 3, 2019: Fourth Sunday after Epiphany — Lectionary 4 (Year C)

February 10, 2019: Fifth Sunday after Epiphany — Lectionary 5 (Year C)

February 17, 2019: Sixth Sunday after Epiphany — Lectionary 6 (Year C)

February 24, 2019: Seventh Sunday after Epiphany — Lectionary 7 (Year C)

Connect with Sing For Joy!

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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.


Donald Christiansen

Jonathan S. Coltvet, Stephanie J. Coltvet Erdmann, and Sherman P. Coltvet

Don Fink

Rev. Robert W. Girod

Velma Johnshoy

Joanne Kendrick

Kyria Madany-Klein

Ruth Mohn


Carolyn Goaley

Paul Johnson & Eric Head

Peakland Baptist Church Choir

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)