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 2021 Newsletter (Year B)

Pastor Bruce Benson

Nunc Dimittis

For the next few moments, please ignore the fact that this issue of the newsletter is meant for January. I want to call your attention to December, to the last Sunday of the month, which this year and most years is also the First Sunday of Christmas. The Gospel reading for that day is from Luke, the story of venerable old Simeon and Anna in the temple in Jerusalem. New parents, Mary and Joseph, have brought their first-born son to the temple for rites of purification and dedication. Simeon and Anna notice. Yes, indeed, they notice. Suddenly, weary old arms are eager to hold this infant, and old voices start to sing.

Clearly, the full Gospel story could have been told without this little episode. Luke's account, after all, is the only one of four to include it. Rather than wonder, however, if that means it is only one fourth as important as other stories, why not simply enjoy it. Maybe that's easier for the old than the young? We all tend to relate better to stories about people somewhat like ourselves. Then again, young parents are often pleased and proud to show newborns to grandparents and great grandparents, and the delight in old eyes blesses those young parents and their little children. Simeon and Anna were neither the first nor the last to bestow such a blessing. In non-pandemic times, Christmas is a season when many infants are bundled and trundled off to family gatherings where they are introduced to grandparents for the first time. It is sad to lose that this year.

As 2020 draws to a close, old Simeon will get the last word on Sing For Joy. Perhaps I should say that old Simeon and a now elderly composer will share the last word. The program for December 27th concludes with the singing of Robert Scholz's setting of the Nunc Dimittis. I will mention on the program that he was thinking of Simeon as well as his own mother when he composed this musical setting of Simeon's words. I will not mention, however, that his doctors say he is now, like Simeon, nearing the end of life. I mention it here because I see no reason to wait for a memorial service to say that he has been both a wise colleague and a dear friend. When you hear his Nunc Dimittis again, I think you will agree that if music reveals anything about a composer as a person, this music suggests that Bob Scholz must be generous, full-hearted and thoughtful; a good friend to have. He is.

As 2020 finally winds down, not many people will be inspired to sing it to rest with the gentle, prayerful, Scholz Nunc Dimittis. Most will be muttering, "Good riddance, 2020, we won't miss you!" So, let's hear from Anna too. Luke's Gospel tells us that when she met Jesus she began "to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem." What about 2020? Is there any redemption for that? Anna can see it clearly: Immanuel: God-with-us . . . Even-in-this-year! So yes, 2020 finds redemption too, not departing until it has seen the Feast of the Incarnation. Then we can let it rest in peace as we move willingly into the new year.

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.


James Michael Anderson

Rebecca Bingham Carnes

Parents: Lois and Larry Crenshaw

Clarence and Esther Hauck

Jennifer Koenig

Marcus Lehman

Rev. Arnold Nicholson

Patricia Saunders Nixon

Erna and Art Raap

Sue Sands

Helen Spitzack

Bob Sylwester

Emil and Trudy Symonik


Pastor Bruce Benson

Clayton Jelinek, St. Olaf 2010

Sarah Waters

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