You Know it’s a Confessional Church when the Day School Jazz Band Plays the Issues Etc. Theme, by Pr. Rossow

It was a  wonderful surprise the other night at our Spring Music Concert at Bethany Lutheran Church and School (Naperville, Illinois) to hear our day school jazz band play the theme song from Issues, Etc. You can listen to the band playing the song later at an informal gathering of students and parents for a year-end celebration by clicking on the personal website of our Cantor’s wife Cheryl Magness.

The selection of the song was  not just coincindental. Bethany is the birthplace of the Brothers of John the Steadfast and supporting new Lutheran media is one of our goals with Issues being the primary focus of that work. Our church and school band director, Mike Vasilie, is a BJS member and ardent fan of Issues, Etc.

We are pleased to have a healthy and thriving Lutheran day school that supports the work of the congregation and that  in this day  of struggling Lutheran day schools has  a  steady enrollment. We have a great teaching staff that supports our traditional approach to church and we thank Principal Pam Mueller and all her staff for  embracing confessional Lutheranism at Bethany Naperville. We like to say that next to preaching and teaching the word of God, our day school is our most important work.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


You Know it’s a Confessional Church when the Day School Jazz Band Plays the Issues Etc. Theme, by Pr. Rossow — 26 Comments

  1. I remember when Mike asked me if he could start a jazz band at Bethany. I said, “Sure! Why not?” And he said he wasn’t sure because he was told by a fellow Concordia grad working at another church (a congregation Abalze!) that Bethany would never allow it. So Mike was pleasantly surprized – and appreciated the point: just because we don’t have a jazz band in the Divine Service doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t want to have one in the day school.

    This is our second year of having “The Swingin’ Royals”. I’m looking forward to what they’ll do next year!

  2. I must say I was taken aback that ColdPlay, the british poprock band’s music would be the theme of a) issues etc. and b) played by a day school jazz band.

  3. My cellphone ringtone has been Viva la Vida for quite some time. Whenever I hear the song on the radio or on the music piped in to restaurants and department stores, my first thoughts are, “Is my phone ringing?”…or “Wow, this station has picked up Issues, Etc.!”

  4. Whenever my husband and I hear Coldplay’s Viva la Vida on the car radio we always immediately say and think “Issues Etc.?” Here’s the question we always ask next: how did they get the rights to that song? Or is it OK to use in a non-profit context?

    Bethany Kilcrease

  5. Bethany,

    They either secured the rights directly or through a clearinghouse. If such a request were denied, they would then just use it under the “hostile use” clause and send the standard fee to the appropriate account.

    This is how, for example, Sean Hannity uses Bruce Hornsby’s music (about which Hornsby has complained), and how Rush uses much of his bumper music.

    I learned this first hand when I tried to withhold permission for my music to the LSB hymn, “If Christ Had Not Been Raised”, to be used with the Concordia Organist (a.k.a. LSB Karaoke). After declining the written request, I was contacted by phone and told that they would use the tune anyway. They could do this because the music had been “previously recorded”. When I asked why I was even being contacted for permission, then, since it evidently didn’t matter, they said it was so they could send me my money. I told them not to send me any money, because I did not want to profit from a project I believe to be overall harmful to the Church. At that point, I learned about the “hostile use” clause: that they had to send the money anyway, just under different terms. (There is a standard rate for “hostile use”.)

  6. LSB Karaoke? Phillip, how can you say the Concordia Organist is harmful to the church? Isn’t it Dr. Grime and others playing the LSB liturgy and hymns on the big organ at the CTSFW chapel?

  7. Just freely thinking a little here, and wondering — if IE were back on KFUO, and this were the theme song, would it be ok for KFUO to play this song?

  8. @Henry Bimpage #8

    > Why?

    I am really going to be loved for this not, but I’ll take a stab: the words of the song do not deliver the Gospel and allow (and may even require) reading meaning into them.

    NB: the words are not played as the show theme. But the curious will find them.

    I actually enjoy this kind of fun, but then I still occasionally enjoy the Beatles’ later works, and even much wierder things …

    I have to admit that I am feeling a little uncool right now; I don’t ‘get it’ just like I don’t really ‘get’ what’s Lutheran about The Princess Bride … and I find the Simpsons unpleasant-to-gross-to-offensive.

    I guess guys much over 40 just need to learn their place.

  9. Hi Timothy,

    I don’t want this thread to be hijacked, so I’ll just direct you the Liturgy Solutions blog for a few of the many strong reservations about Concordia Organist. It has NOTHING to do with the superb musicianship of those who play on the recordings. After all, people sing karaoke to some of the best musicians LA and Nashville have to offer. Those who play on such recordings are far more talented than I am, and I salute their musicianship – whether they are at Kramer Chapel or on Music Row.

    The short answer is that I don’t believe any assembly should make any sacrifice other than its own. I’m also opposed to the growing practice of people making their own sacrifices of praise at a “satellite” church, but then watching a sermon on video.

    I don’t think there is no good use for TCO. Certainly it can be useful for home devotions or hospital visits. But it is a tool that is easily misused. Within months of its release, one pastor was bragging to me and others about how TCO was enabling him to get rid of three organists in his dual parish.

    For more on why this is the wrong answer to the right question, we can go here:

  10. After losing our organist my congregation purchased the Concordia Organist a few months ago. We’d have no music for the Divine Service without it.

    Perhaps you guys should post some guidelines on what you consider a thread hijacking.


  11. There are places which can’t get an organist.
    But how much of that is due to the Concordias dismissing their PhD teachers of music because they are teaching quality Lutheran and not “praise band”? Churches who are “getting rid” of organists are part of that problem!
    My alma mater is elca and not living up to its name, but last I listened, its reputation for music education was untarnished.

  12. Pr. Rossow,
    Is your school music program encouraging anyone to learn piano and organ?

  13. Helen,

    We have an amazing array of music lessons going on in our school. Our cantor and associate cantor both teach piano lessons to several students. We have a full time band instructor who has I would guess about, about 35 students getting private lessons and we have a member who is a professional opera singer who gives lessons gives voice lessons at church (most are not our members). We also have one other member who uses the church for recitatls for her piano students (some of who are members). In addition to all of this, our cantor teaches sight reading in the primary grades for several hours a semester.

    As far as organ goes, I can only think of one student who was taking organ lessons, but there may have been more. Cantor Magness may chime in with more info on this if he is still checking this string.


  14. It’s best if students start on the piano before moving to organ, so we focus on piano lessons. But I’ve had five students progress to the organ over the years. I’ve also taught a few older students who have specifically come to me for organ lessons. This fall I will have the joy of working with my first organ student, whom I got started on organ lessons just before moving from Peoria to Chicagoland. She went on to study organ at Concordia and will be installed in August as our second-grade teacher. She will be joining our team of organists as well.

    Bethany shows what can happen when a congregation places a premium on the Lord’s song, including the use of organ playing to support congregational singing. I think if more congregations and, indeed, the church-at-large would value organs and organ playing more, we would have more organists. And more good organists (which is what we REALLY need.)

    But the reality is that we don’t. Congregations have simply not provided in this area. Many expect volunteers or pay token stipends. They don’t maintain their instruments properly and often don’t provide and appropriate instrument for the room. Sure, some congregations are struggling just to have a pastor, I know. But this observation applies to many more parishes. People in most places simply don’t want to invest in organists or organs. So traditional worship suffers as liturgical congregations cling to organs and organists they can’t or won’t afford (including organists they shouldn’t afford!) and contemporary worship flourishes as folks come forward to play easier music on less-demanding instruments. Because the “contemporary” music is often more musically clear and consistent, parishioners then respond to the latter by (ironically) coming up with the money to fund sound systems, equipment, and music direcotrs for the various bands that emerge.

    Why can’t this then happen with traditional worship? It can, if we take the organ off its pedestal, and focus on the people singing the Lord’s song. Other instruments can lead Lutheran worship. And Lutheran worship be done beautifully without any instruments at all. How can this be done? I invite you to join the converstaion at the link provided before. 😉

    Plugging in CDs, however excellent they may be, runs against the entire ethos of liturgical worship and risks turning the practice of traditional scared music into a museum piece. There are many other, better solutions out there.

  15. Phillip Magness :Plugging in CDs, however excellent they may be, runs against the entire ethos of liturgical worship and risks turning the practice of traditional scared music into a museum piece. There are many other, better solutions out there.

    We put the liturgy and hymns from the CDs on an IPod and play it through our Rodger organ’s audio plug-ins. It’s the new Lutheran media, isn’t it? I don’t see much of a difference as our old organists used to save their playing on a midi disk and push a button after the first stanza.

    By the way, we have no musicians and no children so I can’t think of any other, better solutions out there.

  16. That verse and the verse immediately prior to it has to do with hoarding, the service of Mammon, works righteousness, self-righteousness and self-conceit. Considering your attitude toward a valid stewardship tool created by CPH and CTSFW for congregations which lack funds or musicians, it’s very inappropriate for you to use it here.

  17. Say, I know it’s been a long time, but I have been wondering what is the essential difference between the song mentioned here and its use, and this one:

    Both are played in an avowedly Christian context. Neither is doctrinal. One is bland; the other postmodern.

    I also don’t see anything Lutheran in The Princess Bride, so I suppose I should shut up along with others of my generation. On second thought, I am not going to.

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