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.

January 2020 Newsletter (Year A)

Pastor Bruce Benson


It took me months to realize that what most people wanted from music

was not transcendence but simple companionship.

from The Time of Our Singing, Richard Powers

The statement above is uttered with a blend of resignation and insight by a fictional pianist in Richard Powers's novel. Through most of the story this character has been a high-art performer on grand stages, but now plays for tips and free ginger ale at a late-night piano lounge in Atlantic City. His observation about people and music might be a bit cranky, but if we slant it a few degrees for a slightly different look, it can help us make the transition from Christmas to Epiphany, from the transcendent "good news of great joy for all the people" to the plain old January of short days and long nights when companionship feels like gift enough. 

All those thrown-out Christmas trees on curbsides in January are a clear sign that change is underway. Despite the exotic magi making their mysterious appearance, for many people Epiphany feels more like mundane post-Christmas than its own special season. We expect the Christmas season with its pageantry, its music both tender and exultant, its gatherings of loved ones and cherished memories, its retelling of the holy story by hushed candlelight — we expect all of that to bring us right to the edge of wonder and transcendence. Whether we allow ourselves to be nudged the final half step is up to us, but we expect Christmas to bring us close. And when it does, we bask in it, even if only briefly.

Then it goes away. It's January. And truth be told, we do not expect the same transcendent music or experience during January as we do during Christmas. What do we expect?

Let's slant or redirect the quotation at the top of this page more toward harmony or simultaneity. That is, don't be so sure that searching for transcendence on the one hand or companionship on the other identifies two different groups of people; isn't the search for both within each of us? We long for moments in music (and life) that feel transcendent, awe inspiring, and sacred, yet sometimes companionship is enough. More than enough. 

We at Sing For Joy try to provide a weekly program in which, at least from time to time, you find transcendence. But we understand that sometimes it is enough simply to have the program available as a musical companion while you move about a quiet house or wait out a season of illness or bad weather. Certainly we like when the music you hear is so just-right and amazing that it stops you in your tracks. But if at other times — like during the less than exciting days of putting away lights, ornaments and Christmas music CDs — the program is simply your friend, your companion for part of your day, we are honored to be that friend as well. From all of us at Sing For Joy, a blessed Christmas to you, and a new year in which you find plenty of reason to sing for joy.  

Peace be with you,

Bruce Benson

Pastor Bruce Benson

Pastor Benson steps inside a Safe T Home

The Sing For Joy team, Christmas 2019

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Lanterns in Boe Chapel

Memorials and Honorariums

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


Albert & Norma Eickmann

Connie Eitreim

Sybil Eurey

Suzanne Holderman

my husband, Harvey Huiner

BJ Johnson

Jennifer Koenig

Neal and Dorothy Olson

our parents: Jim & Harriet Hanson, Bob & Betty Sande

Arthur & Erna Raap

Rev. Alvin Rueter

Ronald J. Schubert


all my wonderful teachers and colleagues

Gene Alton Allen


Pastor Bruce Benson

James E Bobb

Damon Brunson

Barbara Carpenter

Dr. James Litton

Helena Wheatley

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.