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 2021 Newsletter (Year B)

Pastor Bruce Benson

The chorus frogs I heard croaking away one lovely evening a few weeks ago reminded me of my grandfather. I'm not referring to vocal tone quality now — you know, that old "frog in the throat" expression — though it certainly is true that in his 90s, my grandfather's voice did not have bell-like clarity. No, the frogs reminded me of "Grampy," as we called him, because three frogs in a small pond fell into a steady musical rhythm, each frog with a different pitch. I don't have perfect pitch, so I can't tell you for sure what those pitches were, but I can tell you that the three-note phrase they were singing was a descending line of whole notes. Like E-D-C or G-F-E♭. One right after the other the froggy notes came, G-F-E♭, short pause. G-F-E♭, short pause. Occasionally in a straight rhythm, but mostly with a gentle dotted rhythm, the second frog half a beat slow, and the third right on time. And they kept it up as I walked past.

Suddenly, my grandfather's voice was singing in my head, "Day by day, thy mercies, Lord, attend me." Yes, that's it! the frogs were singing "Day by Day," and just like my grandfather, they preferred the dotted note version. They seemed to know the song from memory as my grandfather did; whether they also knew it in the original Swedish as he did, I didn't ask. I will say, they seemed to enjoy singing it just as much. Without the lovely little wrinkle in the rhythm, I guess one might have heard "Three Blind Mice," but clearly these frogs were singing "Day by Day."

Ah, the things that happen when one has songs and hymns lodged in the memory. All manner of things, including frogs, can jar them loose. Then, you hope they don't become "ear worms" — tunes that once heard or remembered won't leave you alone for hours, even a whole day.

Remembered melodies are both blessing and curse. And the same could be said of memory itself. Think about the prayer in Psalm 25: Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; but according to your steadfast love remember me. Some things we would like forgotten, by ourselves and others, other memories give our lives joy and meaning.

In one of his essays about brain disorders, the neurologist, Oliver Sacks, describes an elderly man whose brain essentially has made no memories after his teen years, and Sacks asks who such a person is, how such a person can know himself. Perhaps Sacks had been reading St. Augustine. In his well-known Confessions, Augustine says about memory, "There I meet myself, and recall what I am."

If, in meeting ourselves in memory, we are reminded of much-loved grandparents and "Thy mercies, Lord, attend me," who cares if it was a trio of frogs in a muddy puddle that brought back the memories. And if, after a year of pandemic-squelched singing, you find your own unused voice has a bit of a "frog in the throat?" Sing anyway. Sing for joy.

Peace be with you,

Bruce Benson

Pastor Bruce Benson

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July Playlists and Programs

News: CWTA Virtual Mini-Conference,

July 20, 2021, 3:30 p.m. (CST)

For the first time ever, the St. Olaf Conference on Worship, Theology, and the Arts is offering a virtual preview to their upcoming in-person conference. Based on the conference's 2022 theme, "Scatter the Imagination of Our Hearts," this virtual mini-conference invites participants to explore the ways that we have been scattered in body, mind, and spirit by the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and structural racism and how we might be brought back together as people of God for the good of the world.

Explore the mini-conference sessions. Registration is free and open to all!

Lanterns in Boe Chapel

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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:

Clyde and Evelyn Bucher

my mother, Marilyn W. Decesari 1933-2021

Ed DuBose

Marlene Engstrom

Charles and Sybil Eurey

Albert and Norma Eickmann

Norman Forde, a loyal listener for many years

Shelley Grimes '84 on her birthday

Rev. Wayne Hoffman

Beverly & Bruce Keith

my mother, Carolyn Kiser, who loved to sing praises to her Lord

Phyllis A. Manigold

my wonderful parents, Dr. and Mrs. Robert C. Pope
("Doc-Doc" and "Roo-Roo")

Arthur and Erna Raap

Sara B. Ruona

my mother, Mary Alice Smith

Helen Spitzack

Robert Sylwester

Pastor Reg Torrison

IN HONOR OF:

Bruce Benson

my sister-in-law, Cathy Christopherson

Church Musicians everywhere

the Birth of Leonard Charles Kleven and his parents, Stefanie Fiser Kleven '06 and Eric Kleven

Rosalie C. Moninger

Brigid O'Donnell on her birthday

Jeff O'Donnell

Lyle Rich

Louis and Nancy Schadlich

Carol Schroeder on her 54th birthday

Dr. & Mrs. Melvin T. Vidal and Caroline

West Wind Village, Morris MN

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 street or email address.