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.

October 2020 Newsletter (Year A)

Pastor Bruce Benson

Paying Attention to Life

God be in my head and in my understanding.
God be in mine eyes and in my looking.
God be in my mouth and in my speaking.
God be in my heart and in my thinking.
God be at mine end and in my departing.

                                                  Anonymous, 1514

The Sing For Joy broadcast on the last Sunday in October will include the text above, in a musical setting by John Rutter. As you see, the poem/prayer has been around and in use for a very long time. So, even if we agree that old age and durability do not inevitably guarantee quality, there does seem to be something about this prayer that has endeared it to generations of people.

Like much poetry and art, it doesn't merely confront us, nor, on the other hand, merely comfort us. It does a bit of both, leaving us slightly off balance. Just enough to pay attention. Like a sudden shift in the breeze, or an unexpected new sound in the forest, it leaves us asking questions.

The poem can't mean that God fits in my head or my mouth, can it? Even though the plain sense of the words certainly implies that? If not that, is it a prayer to be more religious? Maybe; but religious people are often the first to see that God is interested in more than religion. Is the poem also? Or, is it just a more poetic way of saying "Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil?" Cover my eyes, plug my ears, gag my mouth; think, see, speak and feel only God? Maybe. But more likely the prayer invites and encourages us in the opposite direction: to open our eyes, ears, mind and mouth, paying attention to life in a way that honors its sacredness, honors it in a way that is full of love. As God is.

  • Let my head regard my neighbors not just for the benefits (or headaches) they give me, but in the same way a loving God regards them. Let love be in my understanding.
  • Let my eyes see the world around me not just for ways it can entertain or profit me, but for how it is all knit together in the holy gift of life. Let love be in my seeing.
  • Let the words of my mouth serve not just self-interest, but truth, integrity, and justice. Let love be in my speaking.
  • Let me value more than merely what serves me, but also what sustains life, beauty and meaning for others. Let love be in my heartfelt thinking about all of life.
  • And let me not disparage or cheapen my own life, but live it from beginning to end as a gift of God. Let love be also for me, now and always.

It is only right that such a prayer be sung. For in singing, the spirit of the prayer is more fully revealed. It binds us together with each other, and with the One who gives us life abundant. In that, there is reason to sing for joy.

Peace be with you,

Bruce Benson

Pastor Bruce Benson

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