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.

March 2019 Newsletter (Year C)
Going Home Again, by Pastor Bruce Benson

In churches around the world, and also on Sing For Joy every week, Bible stories and music form a kind of partnership that helps the stories speak in ways that words alone cannot. One good example of this partnership awaits us in March when the Gospel reading for the fourth Sunday in Lent is the story of the prodigal son. The bare bones of that story can be told with just words, but music is often like the breath of the Spirit, enabling the bones to live, enabling the story to sing.

For example, the story raises a question that music responds to better than words: Does this story prove or disprove the old saying: “You can’t go home again?” On the one hand, the prodigal certainly does go home. That seems to be the basic point of the story. On the other hand, the home he comes back to is something different from the home he left. Now, he is both welcome (in the heart of his waiting father), and not welcome (in the heart of his brother). He is back at the same address he once called home, but in a deeply personal and profound way, it isn’t the same home anymore.

And it isn’t just the older brother who is different. When two people, or two families, or two communities are reconciled to each other after a period of alienation, their relationship is not the same as it was before the alienation. Yes, we say, their relationship has been restored, but we also know that using those words isn’t entirely correct, because being forgiven is not the same experience as not needing forgiveness in the first place. Being reconciled is not the same as never being estranged. Being found is not the same as never being lost. The prodigal son, as well as his family at home, were changed by his long separation. When he returns to his family, he cannot simply return to his old relationships. His experience in “a distant country” where he “squandered his property” means that a new relationship with his family is required. If going home means having to pretend that no estrangement has taken place, then one cannot go home again. Pretense is no homecoming. But if love has power to open the hearts of both the prodigal and his family, then he can indeed go home again.

But all of this is so much better expressed by music. Think of the most well-known “prodigal son hymn,” Amazing Grace. It can be sung with penitential sorrow or deep joy, or both at the same time. It has the feeling of coming home again, and the feeling of being home for the first time, of being welcomed as you are, yet changed for the better at the same time. It expresses eloquently those mixed feelings that words stumble to express.

Grace means that one can go home again, and find when one arrives that though it is indeed home, amazingly, love has also made it new. Sing for joy.

Peace be with you,




Pastor Bruce Benson

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March Playlists and Programs

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

March 3, 2019: Transfiguration of Our Lord — Last Sunday after Epiphany (Year C)

March 10, 2019: First Sunday in Lent (Year C)

March 17, 2019: Second Sunday in Lent (Year C)

March 24, 2019: Third Sunday in Lent (Year C)

March 31, 2019: Fourth Sunday in Lent (Year C)

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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.


Cousins who have died, and honoring those still living; Celebrating Christmas and the hope the New Year brings

Mrs. Julie Ann O’Brien Crenshaw

Dorcas Byro Dorow

John W. Erickson

Ruth Ferguson

Alice Hansen

Mr. & Mrs. Robert Haugan

Mrs. Ollie B. Hill

Kenneth Jennings

Donald S. Klinefelter

Philip B. Leege, brother, on his passing to heaven

Weston Noble

Rev. Paul H. Pittman, III

Mr. and Mrs. Grover Poole (parents)

Margaret Huss Smith

Pearl & Herbert Spencer

Pastor Reg Torrison

Michael P. Yoder

Shirley Young 


Dr. W. Matthew Brittain

John Ferguson

John Howard, an old friend

the Leroy Mills family

Jeff O’Donnell and all of the work he and the Broadcast Media team does

Fr. Michael C. Petersen, on his 15th anniversary as pastor of Sons of Zebedee Parish, Byron, Wisconsin

Carolyn Pierson

Mrs. Ann Rust

Mrs. Laura J. Sam

Robert Scholz

Mary E. Sukup

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)