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Music Notes from Denise, February 3, 2024

This Sunday we are observing Scout Sunday and honoring our own Scout Troop 601 that meets here on our St. Martin’s campus. The troop has graciously agreed to provide music for us with several Scout musicians as listed in the back. They are coordinated by Jackson Moeller, Committee Chairperson for the troop, who has a long history playing in the Army National Guard Band! The ensemble will play A Mighty Fortress for the Prelude and will add flair as they play along with the organ on several of our hymns.


Our Processional hymn will be Joyful, joyful, we adore thee, written by Henry Van Dyke in 1907 to the tune, Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s 9 Symphony. Van Dyke’s brilliant hymn of praise has many layers that add to the beauty of his text. As hymnologist Albert Bailey writes, within Van Dyke’s text, “creation itself cannot conceal its joy, and that joy is appreciated by God the center of it all; likewise all nature fills us with joy, caused fundamentally by our recognition of God as the giver” (The Gospel in Hymns, 554). We experience joy on many levels: we witness the joy expressed by Creation, we bask in the joy of God as God delights in us, and we experience our own joy as we reflect on all God has done for us and through us. We have all heard this line over and over again, but it’s worth repeating: we rush through life too quickly to stop and be filled with joy. We allow the phone calls we have to make, the laundry we need to fold, the paper we need to write, and the porch we need to fix get in the way of simply stopping, looking around, and being filled with joy and gratitude at the world God has given us. It’s a world where we have people to call, children to clothe, knowledge to express, and parties to host. And more so than anything, even when it seems to be crumbling around us, it’s a world redeemed by Christ. What can we raise to our Savior but this outburst of joy? (


St. Martin’s choir will sing an arrangement of the African American Spiritual: There Is a Balm in Gilead by R. Kevin Boesiger and Mary McDonald. In the Old Testament, Gilead was the name of the mountainous region east of the Jordan River. This region was known for having skillful physicians and an ointment made from the gum of a tree particular to that area. Many believed that this balm had miraculous powers to heal the body. In the book of Jeremiah, God tells the people of Israel that though many believe in the mysterious healing power of this balm, they can’t trust in those powers for spiritual healing or as a relief of their oppression. God reminds them that God is ultimately in control, and only God can relieve their suffering. In the New Testament, God answers the suffering of God’s people by sending God’s own son to take our place. Jesus becomes our “balm in Gilead.” It is Him we are called to turn to in our times of trial for healing and comfort. We sing this song with that assurance: no matter our hardships or supposed shortcomings, Jesus loves us enough to take our suffering upon Himself. The choir will sing: There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole. There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sinsick soul. Sometimes I feel discouraged and think my work’s in vain, but then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again. (; Lorenz Publishing Co. 2014)


During Communion, one of the Scouts, Rambert Xu, will play Chopin’s Minute Waltz on the piano.  Our final hymn was written specifically for Scout Sunday by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. She wrote to me about her fondness for scouting with all three of her children involved when they were growing up, including her son who became an Eagle Scout. This hymn, We Thank You, God, For Values celebrates the values taught in scouting: trustworthiness, loyalty, helpfulness, friendliness, courtesy, kindness, obedience, cheerfulness, thrift, braveness, cleanliness, and reverence. It also emphasizes caring for God’s creation, and LOVE that welcomes others and conquers hate.


We thank all the Scouts who are joining us and participating in worship this Sunday!

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