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.

July 2020 Newsletter (Year A)

Pastor Bruce Benson

Songs of Grace in a Time of Fear

Although a year of pandemic is not what we would call a "normal year," neither is it entirely different. Think about fear, anxiety, worry. On some level they are with us always. If not for ourselves, then for people we love. Normally, however, our fears are widely varied and diverse, while this year billions of us share the same fears: disease, isolation from loved ones, the erosion or collapse of economic security. For some people, having a future that feels threatened is a new disturbing feeling; for others, it is more the intensity than the anxiety itself that is new this year; while for those whose future already felt threatened, this threat feels familiar even if it is also new. Life is never secure; a pandemic makes us more aware of that.

People who are anxious and afraid typically do not sing. Fear creates a clench, and music catches in the throat. When that happens, sometimes we retreat into ourselves; sometimes we seek shelter behind curtains of denial that block out the world; sometimes we lash out in frustration or behave with false bravado; we might binge on food, TV, or worse. Virtually nobody sings in the midst of anxiety and fear. Anxiety shrivels the desire to sing. Must we then simply go without singing in a time of pandemic? Yes and no.

Yes — The consequences of Covid-19 are already so severe for some that the rest of us ought not expect them to sing. The book of Ecclesiastes says there is, "a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance." When grief and fear choke us, when it is not a time for one's own singing, then what? The time will come when hope loosens the grip of fear and grief, but until then, must we go without singing?

No — Singing has something in common with forgiveness: both are signs of grace even when we are emotionally unable to give or receive such signs for ourselves. People in extreme emotional pain who find themselves unable to forgive someone would not want to live in a world that is devoid of forgiveness. A world without forgiveness is not a livable world. It is up to the rest of us then to go on forgiving as we have been forgiven. Forgiveness might be a little bit like seed that can't grow on hard soil, but it is much more like rain that softens the soil.

Likewise, people who cannot sing — because of sorrow, anxiety, or terror — still want to live in a singing world. Songs of grace and beauty, like forgiveness, are also like the rain: they soften the soul, they loosen the tight grip of worry, they nourish seeds of hope that want to grow in us. Therefore, even in this pandemic season Sing For Joy will continue to raise its voice. God's wounded world needs and welcomes songs of grace and gratitude.

Peace be with you,

Bruce Benson

Pastor Bruce Benson

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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.


Rev. Norm Aronson, on his 56th Ordination Anniversary, May 27th, 2020

Rev. Craig Breimhorst

my Uncle and Aunt, Clyde and Evelyn Bucher

Mrs. Julie Anne O'Brien Crenshaw, my dear wife

Nyles Ellefson

Sybil L. Eurey

Jared Hess, our son, who enjoyed choral music

Hallett and Eleanor Hullingen

Dr. Robert Jenson

Jennifer Koenig

Evelyn Lamps, my confirmation teacher

Elizabeth Marshall

Wallace & Edith Perry

Dorotha Polovina

Reverend Dr. Alvin Rueter

Hector and Naomi Skifter

Jack Swanson

Bokka and Rolf Syrdal

My Father, Rev. Alva D. Tice, on his birthday

Eloyce Tweeten, my cousin


all who sang with me

Pastor Bruce Benson

Dr. Matthew Brittain

my Uncle and Aunt, Clyde and Evelyn Bucher

James R. Carroll, Jr.

Gary Cottrill

John Ferguson

Roberto Garcia

Sarah Elise Garcia

Margaret Rose V. Mills

National Lutheran Choir

Jeff O'Donnell

Mrs. Laura Sam

Dr. Andrew Schaeffer

Sing For Joy and St. Olaf College for its celebration and support of sacred choral music

The Choirs of St. Olaf

Joanna Thuesen '22

Rachel Ann M. Veltman

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 their email address — unfortunately, we cannot send snail mail letters at this time since the Sing For Joy team is working remotely due to Covid-19.

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.