‘Tis A Gift To Be Singing

Dear Friends,

Ready or not, here it comes! The new choir year is just round the corner. The summer has almost had its say, and soon our choir lofts will be buzzing with new opportunities for message and music.

In my early days as a church choir director, I started off each year with a “retreat” for my singers. We would work on fundamentals and begin the learning process on the music for the fall. The weeks leading up to this special time were filled with the recruitment of new singers and rallying the faithful to increase our ranks. The retreat was a time for us to bond as a community of song, and for me to get a feel for the strengths and weaknesses of our vocal balances and the overall condition of the group. It also gave us a jumpstart on music learning and insured our success during the openings weeks of the choir year.

One of the highlights each year was the learning and memorization of our “final blessing.” This was a song we sang all year long for our final benediction at the end of each rehearsal. We always shared prayer requests, and I offered a closing scripture and brief prayer followed by the sung benediction.

This simple ritual became very meaningful for our members. This selection, sung by memory, helped send us to our homes with a heart of gratitude for the opportunities that music brought to us as people of faith. Each year we would choose another “parting blessing” to help us bring our mission into focus. These moments of quiet worship embedded themselves deeply into our hearts as the seasons of each church year went by.

I leave you with one of my new benedictions that might be useful in your own ministry of song. I pray your new year of praise will be filled with much joy and light.



Live your love

Give your grace

Let every breath be an offering of praise

Pass your peace

Share your song

Trust in the Lord all your days.

Copyright 2017 Hal Leonard, All Rights Reserved



Joseph Martin, a native of North Carolina, earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. Subsequently he earned a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance at the University of Texas, Austin. Joseph taught for five years in the Piano Pedagogy Department of the University of Texas. His piano teachers include Jimmy Woodle, David Gibson, Amanda Vick Lethco, Martha Hilley and Danielle Martin. While at Furman University, he was accompanist for choral director and composer Milburn Price and, inspired by his teaching, Martin began to compose. He is a member of the staff at the Hal Leonard Corporation and Shawnee Press, Inc. as Director of Sacred Publications, with responsibilities for overseeing the editorial and creative direction of the company and also coordinating the recording and production aspects of future sacred publishing efforts. Joseph has performed solo piano recitals and has been the featured artist with symphony orchestras in the United States and Mexico. As winner of the Nina Plant Wideman Competition, he performed with the Guadalajara Symphony Orchestra. His solo recital in Ex-convento del Carmen was broadcast nationally throughout the country. Joseph is Artist in Residence at Concordia University in Austin, Texas where he lives with his wife Sue, and his children Jonathan and Aubrey.

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