A Legacy of Christmas

Legacy: something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.

I think about Legacy a lot in my job. I have the honor, privilege and challenge of sitting in the same position that my father, Fred, sat for almost thirty years. His name is the company name. I even have his photo on the wall in my office – behind the door, hung specifically at the same height as the window, as if he were spying on me.

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Some think it’s creepy; I think it’s hilarious. I am pretty sure that my father would find it hilarious, as well.

For those of us in family businesses, the Legacy piece is really never very far away. It colors a lot of what we do, the decisions that we make, the choices that we don’t make. In many ways, it defines who we are. It tells the story of how we became who we are today. Our history is our present.

However, there’s a danger if all we do is rely on our Legacy to define us completely. If you’re always looking back at your history, there’s a great likelihood that you’ll miss the future entirely. Imagine trying to drive your car forwards while always looking through your rear-view mirror. That’s not going to end well, is it? The rear-view mirror has a very distinct purpose and value, but only in the right context. If you’re going to safely and successfully get to your destination, your Destiny, then you must focus on looking forward into the future.

I think that the Christmas Seasons are a good construct for this. Advent is really all about reconnecting to the past, to the waiting that pre-occupied the Israelites of the Old Testament. It’s valuable to ponder and wrestle with the anxiety of unfulfilled hope. God was so present and active with Moses and David, but He remains distant and silent to us. Is He still there? Did we mess this up? Can we really trust in His promise of a Savior? I’d wager that we’ve all had times in our lives when we’ve laid awake in bed at 3:27 in the morning, asking these questions into darkness. I have.

Just when you least expect it, when you’ve given up hope, there’s a break in the darkness. The Light breaks in – in force, too. Light never sneaks up on you. It crashes into the darkness, destroying it completely. There’s a reason why Jesus is called the Light of World. His birth obliterated the darkness of what had defined all of those generations before. In an instant, the past was history. The present had arrived. Advent is done; Christmas Day is here!

And then, we get to Epiphany. Some use the word epiphany to indicate a profound enlightenment of a new knowledge or understanding. I’m not sure that’s entirely correct. I think of an epiphany as the “So what?” to that knowledge or understanding. If you have learned something new, then what are you going to do with it? How has the knowledge changed you? That’s Epiphany: the darkness is gone; the light has arrived; now what are you going to do in response to that?

One of the blessings of working in my job is that my father left a strong legacy. He built a great company full of wonderful music. But he isn’t here any more. I am. The Walt Disney Company faced a similar problem following the death of its founder and namesake. For a generation, all major decisions at the studio were viewed through the lens of “What would Walt do?” The company’s destiny was defined by past tense. They were driving down the road looking in the rear-view mirror.

I’m happy to report that I knew of this story well before my father passed away. So, when I was put into the driver’s seat of Fred Bock Music Company, I knew that I had to pay more attention to what was in front of me rather than what was behind me. To find answers to my problems by asking “What would Fred do?” was a sure fire recipe for disaster.

One of the best decisions that I made in my tenure here was hiring Rick Nichols to be the Editor for Fred Bock Music Company and Epiphany House. Rick’s talent as a writer, arranger, editor, and clinician are immediately evident to anyone who meets him. He’s well versed in the history of church music, but he uses it as a foundation rather than the main expression of his creativity. His music is fresh, interesting, and contemporary. And he’s a super nice guy. Spend five minutes with him, and you’ll understand why I hired him. (Warning: he will steal your dessert, so don’t sit next to him at dinner!)

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One of Rick’s unique gifts is his ability to write new hymns. He and his friend, Chris Anderson, have partnered on almost a dozen new hymns in the last few years. (In fact, we will be releasing a collection of these hymns in January: Give Him Glory. Watch for that in the coming weeks!) One of the hymns in this collection is The Birth of Christ. It was originally commissioned by Geneva Presbyterian Church in California, and we have released a choral setting of it in Fred Bock Music Company. The church created a video of the premier of the hymn. You can see that here: The Birth of Christ.

If you’d like to hear the SATB setting of the hymn, you can do that by clicking on the link below.

 

Stephen Bock serves as President of Fred Bock Music Company, a job he completely enjoys. After graduating from Occidental College, Mr. Bock spent fifteen years in the television and film business, working as a writer, producer, and editor on many award winning documentaries and network specials. Following the untimely death of his father, Fred, Stephen returned to the family business in 1999 and has been there ever since. He says that his tenure in the music publishing business has been a “thrilling ride and I’m glad to be working with such universally talented and nice people.” He served as the President of the Church Music Publishers Association from 2009-2010.

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