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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.

April 2021 Newsletter (Year B)

Pastor Bruce Benson

The Power of Listening

If you have listened to Sing For Joy with any regularity, the name Alice Parker is likely to be familiar. Sometimes she is the arranger of the music you hear, other times she conducts the choir. She was, for many years, Robert Shaw's primary collaborator, and often you hear those names together.

Two dear friends of hers are Sing For Joy listeners. Having heard me mention her name on the program, they recently sent me her newest little book, The Gift of Song, which she has written, as they point out, in her 90s. It is very small in size, but not significance. I am glad to have it. To tell the truth, however, I'm not sure how recently Gabe and Theresa sent the book because before it ever came to my hands it was passed around the rest of the Sing For Joy staff, including an interested student worker or two. No problem; it did finally come to me.

Like Alice Parker's music making, the book is simple, but moving and profound. She honors singing, as you would expect, saying in the very first sentence of the book, "Song is a gift given to all human beings who have ears and a voice." And a few pages later, "Song is truly the most democratic of the arts. We need no equipment other than ears and voices, no instrument other than heart and mind." If you found yourself thinking: What about eyes to read the notes? This book would reply that you are thinking about song(s) instead of Song. Songs can be stored in a book or file cabinet, Song happens only when there is singing. Song is about listening and singing.

Given one particular Bible story that gets read in churches on the Second Sunday of Easter, it is the emphasis on proper listening that has captured my attention. But let me get there with another sentence or two from the book. Asking herself what she had learned from Robert Shaw over the years, she answers, "I had learned to listen differently and more acutely than I had ever imagined." Then she becomes the teacher, and says about the students she is asked to teach, "They were all so immersed in the page they had forgotten how to listen. One student told me, 'I didn't realize there was anything to listen for except correctness.' I had to pull them away from the page (from their eyes) back into the world of sound (into their ears.)"

Like many others, I have fallen into reading the Easter season story of "Doubting" Thomas, as a story about seeing, but it must really be about listening. Yes, Thomas demanded to see, and seeing does produce a certain kind of believing. But the faith that wells up in Thomas comes more from listening. He heard, "Peace be with you." And in listening carefully he heard more than words; he heard an inflection and tone of voice telling him he was welcome and loved. He heard Amazing Grace. Alice Parker would be proud of him.

Peace be with you,

Bruce Benson

Pastor Bruce Benson

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April Playlists and Programs

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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:

Gene Eakes

Albert and Norma Eickmann

my parents, Charles and Sybil Eurey

Eleanor French

Duane Hoven '53

cousin Dorothy Sanderson Johnson, an accomplished Scandinavian Lutheran

Donald S. Klinefelter

Arthur and Erna Raap

Rev. Alvin C. Rueter on the anniversary of his passing, March 21.
His "Sing For Joy" introduced me to the Lord.

Dennis Sorheim

IN HONOR OF:

Mark E. Hall on his birthday

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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.