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.

January 2022 Newsletter (Year C)

Pastor Bruce Benson

A Traditional Christmas

In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . 

And the Word became flesh and lived among us . . .

. . . full of grace and truth. 

John 1

Upcoming Sing For Joy programs for the two Sundays of the Christmas season (one in December, one in January) feature more so-called Traditional words and music than usual. In the course of just those two half hour programs you will hear English Traditional, French Traditional, African American Traditional, Swedish Traditional and Latin Traditional. In the case of the Latin, it is called "Anonymous" rather than Traditional, probably because all Traditional music is anonymous, but not all Anonymous music is necessarily Traditional. It could be, but Anonymous can also refer to a single unknown composer or poet—perhaps a medieval monk responsible for the Latin music of a monastery choir. 

There is something just right about the prevalence of Traditional music—let's call it "The People's Music"—at Christmas time. Nothing about Christmas feels imposed, demanded, or reserved for a special few. It is "the people's season," you might say, and "The People's Music" happily arises in it, and for it. To be sure, it was long-ago bishops and other leaders in the Western church who declared December 25 as the day to celebrate Christmas, while in the Eastern Orthodox churches January 6 and 7 were so designated by other bishops. That might sound like Christmas-by-decree rather than Christmas as spontaneous delight, but "the people" aren't fussy about the date. It takes something more meaningful than a calendar to fill the heart, and inspire "the people" to make music.

We can also admit that many people celebrate Christmas under some pressure to do it in certain ways. Trying to meet cultural consumer norms creates plenty of anxiety in those planning Christmas events. But consumer conformity is like the old ecclesiastical calendar decree: it's real, but it isn't what creates "The People's Music" or a meaningful Christmas. A consumer mentality can be like the famous Inn of Bethlehem: it just doesn't have quite enough room for the Sacred. The human heart, however, is a nearby manger that welcomes the Spirit of Christmas, the Spirit that creates "The People's Music." Such music doesn't come from anything that can be purchased. It comes from somewhere else. 

Where the Spirit of Christmas is present, there will be joy, creativity, hospitality, grace, love and general goodwill. And in those settings, over the centuries, new music has bubbled up, been shared, then shared again, and pretty soon who remembers where it came from? It's just traditional. We remember only that it expresses what we feel, what we want to sing. There is so much Traditional music for Christmas simply because "the people" have found in Christmas a story worth singing, a story summarized so poetically in the Gospel of John: 

And the Word became flesh and lived among us . . . 

No wonder "the people" sing for joy. 

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:

Helene Anglin

Col. William L. Bagwell

Rebecca Bingham Carnes

Paul J. Christiansen

Julie Ann O'Brien Crenshaw

Albert and Norma Eickmann

Mrs. Esther Evans

Mr. & Mrs. Delmar Heithold

Sandra Hannah Bruce

Clarence and Esther Hauck

Dorotha Ward Polovina

Arthur and Erna Raap

Shirley Rupert

Pastor Reg Torrison

Bob Tinklenberg

IN HONOR OF:

Dr. Benjamin Keseley 

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.