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 to subscribe.

September 2020 Newsletter (Year A)

Pastor Bruce Benson

Lessons from the Choir

An old bit of folk wisdom says that "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone." That might explain why so many people seem to miss congregational singing these days, and lament its absence. Like health, group singing is one of those things we tend to take for granted. Until we can't. Like now.

We're coming up on September, the month when church choirs, school choirs, community choirs — professional choirs too — typically gear up for another year of making music together. This year, will that be possible? The answer is disappointing, maybe even disgusting, but hardly in doubt. When it comes to singing, summer will most likely end the way it began.

Sing For Joy will still be around, but choirs will be asked not to gather, rehearse, and sing this fall. We will miss their music making, certainly, and choir members will miss it even more. The same disappointment and anguish we hear from athletes who miss their team sports can be heard (though usually not as loud) from choral musicians. For choir members, it is not enough simply to turn on a source of recorded music or sing alone in the car. They want to make music, and make it together. When we miss something during its absence, we often notice things about it that are easily overlooked when it is present. Therefore, this fall is a good time to note that choirs, in addition to making music, just might help develop habits of mind and heart that are helpful in a time of pandemic.

None of us faces a pandemic alone. There is no escaping the fact that "we are all in this together" whether we like it or not. We are dependent on each other for both protection and care; and that is not so unlike the experience of choral singing. A choir is not just a bunch of people singing as if each were a soloist. All need to function together, paying careful attention to each other. Loving their neighbor, you might say. They don't all sing the same notes, they don't always sing even the same words at the same time, and they don't all sing all the time — there are rests in the score. But a choir functions as a whole rather than merely a collection of parts. Choir members know this in their bones. They sense it in their bodies. It can be an exhilarating, transcendent experience. Congregations too, when they are "feelin' it" during a favorite hymn, have that experience of mutual support, of social bonding, of being held together in the hands of one Holy Spirit. Science agrees. Research at the University of California Berkeley has found that "music makes us affiliate with groups."

Group singing can and does foster that prayerful attitude important during a pandemic, an attitude and prayer you will hear on the first Sing For Joy program in September: "Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love, teach us how to serve the neighbors we have from you."

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.

IN MEMORY OF:

my dad, Charles W. Eurey

First Methodist Church of Harvey, ND, which no longer exists, but was important to me growing up

George McCadden

IN HONOR OF:

all healthcare workers

Jane Cain, on her retirement after serving for 40 years as organist and choir director at Davidson College Presbyterian Church in Davidson, NC

Vida Hitterdal

Dr. Andrew Scimgeour

Paul R Scrimgeour

the unselfish caregivers / spouses of elderly people

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.