This Sunday, we’re excited to welcome flutist Anne Kim as our guest musician. Anne recently relocated from New York to the Bay Area. Renowned for her impeccable technique and deeply moving warm tone, she’ll be joining our choir as a guest flutist, adding richness to our harmonies with her exceptional talent. In line with this week’s Gospel Reading, the choir will present Richard Donn’s “God So Loved,” an original setting of John 3:16. This piece features a captivating ascending melody complemented by a descending bass line that underpins the harmonic framework. Our very own Robin will deliver a stunning soprano solo, interweaving homophonic and gentle contrapuntal elements within the choir. Additionally, Anne’s flute accompaniment adds the perfect touch, making this a piece you’ll want to revisit time and time again.

Ms. Kim will also grace us with her offering of Georges Bizet’s Menuet from L’Arlésienne Suite No.2 as a Prelude, and Johan Peter Emilius’ Preludium for Flöite og Orgel, HartW 57 during the communion, accompanied by Jung Jin. Below, you’ll find a brief profile of Ms. Kim:

“Flutist Anne Kim has showcased her talents as a soloist, orchestral player, chamber musician, and also as a flute repair specialist. She has graced prestigious stages such as the Stern Auditorium and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center in New York, and the Seoul Arts Center in Korea. Anne earned her undergraduate degree from Yonsei University and her Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music under the tutelage of Professor Michael Parloff.”

I trust that her offering will deeply resonate with you, providing a moment to once again contemplate the sacred love that our Lord has graciously given us. (From Music Director, Jung Jin Kim)

Jung Jin

I’m thrilled to introduce our guest cellist for upcoming Sunday’s worship service, August Lee. His presence promises to elevate our musical experience with his masterful cello performances. During the service, the choir will present Richard Donn’s “Lamb,” featuring a captivating solo cello that intertwines seamlessly with the choir’s sensitive vocal writing. Augmenting this musical tapestry, we’ll also hear strains of a 4/4 rendition of “Just as I Am,” enhancing the Lenten message with nuanced control of texture, dynamics, and timbre.

Mr. Lee will grace us with his exquisite cello melodies, accompanying the choir. Furthermore, he will enchant us with Benedetto Marcello’s Largo from Sonata for Violoncello and Continuo No. 1 in F Major as the prelude, and J. S. Bach’s Choral ‘Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ,’ BWV 639 during communion, alongside Jung Jin. Below is a brief profile of Mr. Lee:

“August Jong Hyun Lee is a professional classical cellist, educator, and conductor. He holds a Bachelor of Music from the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory and a Master of Music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. In addition to his solo career, Mr. Lee is a dedicated teacher and conductor. He teaches private students and conducts the Valley Church Youth Orchestra, the Silicon Valley Korean Chamber Orchestra, the Tri-Valley Youth Orchestra, and the Oikos Community Orchestra. Mr. Lee is also an active performer. He is a member of the Celeste Stella Trio, a resident musician at the San Francisco Presidio Chapel, and performs in concert series at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption. Mr. Lee is a passionate and talented musician dedicated to sharing his love of music with others. He is an asset to the music community and an inspiration to his students and colleagues.”

Our Music Ministry remains dedicated to inviting accomplished guest instrumentalists to enhance our worship services, and we look forward to sharing more updates with you soon. Thank you for your continued support and interest. (from Music Director, Jung Jin Kim)

Jung Jin

New Season & New Plan for Choir!

Regardless of where you find yourself today (this week, this month), know this: September marks the beginning of a new season, and with that comes an invitation to change, to experience something new. Our choir will be improved by a creative method. It is originally from one of the choir member’s ideas and our pastors and I agree with this wonderful idea. The purpose of this is to lessen a commitment and encourage new member to join the choir. Here’s what we plan:

Full Choir: Sing every other week, with easier, more accessible selections (→ Love to sing but aren’t the most musically talented? Come rehearse every week and join us for the full choir weeks.)
Soloist and/or Small Ensemble: Sing (or perform) once a month, with little more challenging pieces (→ Accomplished musician, but time-limited? Sign up for a solo or small ensemble work.)
“Pickup” Choir: Sing once a month. Anyone and everyone who likes to sing can join. No commitment for the weekly rehearsal, you can just show up on Sunday morning. We will meet at 9:20 am. (→ Love the choir, but your schedule is too tight?  Participate when you can and don’t feel bad about missing when you need to.)

Perhaps you’ve been out of choir for a while… perhaps you can’t sing weekly during the academic year… this new plan will be the perfect opportunity to share your gifts of music and to be around other people just like you! If you’re in the congregation and want to contribute, choose the way that suits you best. We’d love to welcome new people who want to try it out!!!

-Jung Jin

by Jung Jin Kim

I can’t believe it, but I have already been here almost three months. For the last three months, I have really been moved by our choir’s great singing. I thank you all for a warm welcome. I am especially impressed by the dedication and openness of the whole choir. Even though we are a small number right now, our choir has a lot of potentials. Also, our vocal range is incredibly wide. Everyone is already musically well-trained, and so talented. 

With the coming of the Spring, I pray that 2022 will be a year of restoration, rejuvenation, revival. My goals are as below.


Choir Gathering: On February 3rd,  eleven members of the choir met and discussed about the plan and filled out a survey. 

Choir Cleaning Day: On February 8th, several volunteers came to church and cleaned out the music library and choir folder slots. We sorted out all the old anthems too. Robin Holbrook is willing to serve as our new music librarian. She will also make sure that the online music database is the most up-to-date version. I want to send a big shout-out to her devotion.

First Choir Rehearsal: On February 10th, we resumed our Thursday’s choir rehearsal.

First Singing in the Worship: On Ash Wednesday, we sang our first anthem for this semester. 


Lots of Great Music Planned: Our choir rehearsals are all about having fun, singing, and getting back into the swing of things. 

Various Repertoires: Music is a joyful and meaningful part of our worship services. We’ve practiced 16th-century motet and 21st-century gospel music in the same rehearsal.

Weekly Choir Updates: Every Thursday morning, I’ve sent a weekly update email to the choir. 

Providing more Written Documents: With a one-person operating system, there might be confusion. To better information, I prepare a more written version of the documents. (Thursdays: Take Note , Sundays: Music Focused Order)

Wearing Robes: On March 13th, we restarted to wear the choir robes. It looks so nice!

Extended Rehearsal Time: Since March 17th, we extended our rehearsal time. (Thursdays – 1 hour and 30 minutes, Sundays – 30 minutes) 


Trying to Find an Intergenerational Opportunities: Isaac just joined us!

Including Various Instruments: If possible, I want to include various instruments. Please let me know if you want to make an ensemble with the choir.

Organ Music: I will keep providing top-notch organ repertoires for every worship service.

Vocal Warm-Up Packet: We always want to improve our vocal quality. I plan to collect various vocal warm-up examples from several books and build a packet for the choir. We will do it with purpose. 

Invitation & Recruitment: We are always looking for new members. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you are interested or if you know someone who wants to join us.

Sometimes people come to worship and the music opens their hearts and minds in a way that nothing else can – so that they can hear the scripture and sermon and worship. I encourage the choir to keep up the good work!!!

by Pastor Bernt

On many Sundays in the church year, especially during the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent, we open with the singing of Kyrie eleison, Greek for “Lord have mercy.” We alternate “Lord” and “Christ” and sometimes also prayers for peace.  We sing it repeatedly, even nine “have mercies” total (I read in one of my various sources that it’s supposed to correspond with nine choirs of angels in Heaven).  Then, during the prayers of intercession later in the service, the refrain often comes up again, over and over: “Lord in your mercy … hear our prayer.”

Why all the repetition?  Maybe because it’s such a basic, bedrock sort of prayer.  When a pilgrim from West, Egeria, first heard it used in the Christian East, it was led by children.  And its use predates Christianity.  People would hail the Emperor with it: “Kyrie eleison!”  I think of how a simple prayer used in repetition becomes a mantra.  When you’ve just opened up that really big utility bill, it’s “Lord, have mercy!”  When you’re tossing and turning in bed, stressed out, you might pray: “Lord, have mercy on me!”  The Eastern Orthodox church has a whole tradition of meditation based on a version they call the Jesus prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  When the singing of Kyrie Eleison was first used in the worship (4th century?), it may have been during both indoor and outdoor processions.  It’s not just a prayer for Sunday morning, but for each step we take through life.

But why is “mercy” what we need?  I think of how this prayer invites us into a certain posture: that of a beggar.  Imagine that?  Maybe that’s not how others see you.  They might think of you as a mover and shaker, someone who’s got it all together.  You can and should be the one to take care of yourself, you’re capable, a bread-winner.  What you have, you achieved and you’re entitled to.  But then you sing “Lord have mercy?” Aren’t you saying, “what I have – I’m not entitled to?  It’s not owed; it’s given.  It’s all grace.  I’m not the master of my fate.  I’m a creature depending on a Creator.  God (not me) is the one holding it together – holding us together.  The prayer “Lord have mercy” equalizes us: ultimately, I’m no different from the other beggars.  The failures and sins in this world run through my heart, too.

But about this word: there’s more to it than “dog-eat-dog, to each her own.”  The thing is: the Lord really IS merciful.  When people cried to the Emperor for mercy, they probably didn’t expect much.  But when the foreign woman (Matthew 15:22) and the blind man (Mark 10:46) cried to Jesus for mercy, he heard and he responded.  Even now, says Paul, the Spirit of Jesus keeps a mercy prayer alive in our hearts: inward groaning and sighs to deep for words (Romans 8).  When we say it on our lips, repeat the prayer for mercy like a mantra, we’re being constantly redirected toward the ever-flowing source of life and hope.  What we sing and pray in worship can in this way shape our walk, how we see ourselves and what we believe.

The hymn “Glory to God in the highest” is familiar to (and maybe memorized by) anyone used to Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal or other so-called “liturgical churches.”  But do we really ponder what we’re singing?

First, a little history: this “Gloria” is one part of the western, medieval (and later) mass, which classical music lovers know goes from the Kyrie (Lord have mercy) to Gloria, Credo (I believe), Sanctus (Holy Holy) and Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).  Traditionally, these were sung in place of what we now usually think of as hymns (like Amazing Grace or Be Thou My Vision).  During the earliest centuries and outside the West, different music or texts were used.  The Gloria originated as a hymn for morning prayer and when it was first used at Mass, only the Pope or bishops could sing it (priests could sing it only on Easter).

To sing those words – “Glory to God” – is to take a break from cynicism.  So often during the week we feel let down by people.  Our role models and leaders and neighbors turn out to be not so glorious.  Indeed, we have issues with and complaints against God.  “Glory” may not be what I’m feeling, but a song I overhear and join in.  The Gloria is also known as the “Hymn of Angels,” because the first verse is what the Shepherds hear the Angels singing on Christmas: “Glory to God in the Highest and peace to his people on earth.”  And the Angels, we imagine, they see clearly God’s full majesty, beyond the struggles that cloud us.  By taking up their song, we want to open ourselves to see and feel that glory and beauty more clearly.  It’s doing what Paul says: “whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” (from Philippians 4)

Notice also how the Gloria is full of political language, king, lord, high places, and the throne of God in each of the three parts (Father, Son and Trinity):

  • FATHER Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.
  • SON Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.
  • GODHEAD/TRINITY For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Updates of the Gloria remove this language, I think because we don’t want to associate God with what’s oppressive and authoritarian.  But with any metaphor, there’s an “is” and an “isn’t.”  Jesus is a lamb in that he’s gentle but he’s not fluffy and four-legged.  God isn’t an oppressive patriarch; but in some ways, I think we still need to say God is Lord.

A key line is “you alone are Lord.”  We’re not just cynical, we’re afraid: of the people at the top, with powerful weapons and unimaginable wealth, of white supremacy, seductive violence or hatred, depression, disease and death and whatever we’re addicted to.  Sing “you alone are Lord.”  None of those so-called lords can stand against the only true Lord!  In a world under the foot of demonic and Roman oppression, Jesus came announcing the kingdom of God.  The Gloria is a pledge of allegiance to this kingdom and a song not just of hope but of victory, to give us courage no matter what.

Our king is an anti-king; he’s the Lamb sent not to beat back his foes by superior military might and lift up the privileged few; he’s the self-giving One who wants nothing more than to take the wrongs and sin away from the villains and the heroes, the whole world, bringing us together in peace and awe and worship.  Thanks be to God!

by Pastor Bernt

A theme for Lent this year is the title of a favorite hymn: Wondrous Love.

In a year when people are anxious about the future of our country, we lift up this American hymn: it comes out of the Second Great Awakening, a series of religious revivals with a complicated legacy, including evangelicalism as well as movements for the abolition of slavery.

I was delighted to read on Wikipedia that the tune was borrowed – as Joe Hillesland puts it, truly “pirated” – from a more popular song of the day, the Ballad of Captain Kidd:

My name is William Kidd,as I sailed, as I sailed
My name is William Kidd, as I sailed
My name is William Kidd, God’s laws I did forbid
And most wickedly I did, as I sailed, as I sailed …

My repentance lasted not, As I sailed, as I sailed
My repentance lasted not, As I sailed,
My repentance lasted not, my vows I soon forgot,
Damnation was my lot, As I sailed. …

I spied three ships from Spain, As I sailed, as I sailed
I spied three ships from Spain, As I sailed,
I spied three ships from Spain, I looted them for gain,
Till most of them were slain, As I sailed. … and so on.

Could the ballad have influenced not just the hymn’s tune, but its text, with its pirate-sounding “dreadful curse” and “as I was sinking down?”  I don’t know.

What’s “wondrous” about God’s love, from the first verse, is that God would do it all for me, such as I am – for my soul, cursed as it may be:

What wondrous love is this, O my soul! O my soul!
What wondrous love is this! O my soul!
What wondrous love is this! That caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse, for my soul …

For my soul … Many of the scripture readings we’ll hear during Lent, especially from John’s gospel, are about Jesus spending time with individuals: Nicodemus, a Samaritan woman, a man born blind, Lazarus.  “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that every one who believes in him may not perish, but have eternal life.”   Each of us is one such person – even if we’re Captain Kidd himself, a soul loved by God and personally called by God to faith.  Each of us has the ashes marked on our foreheads.  The word ‘Lent’ means ‘Spring’ – and Spring begins in me.

But what’s “wondrous” about this love is also how far it spreads, bringing people together even across generations – as fits this centennial year – and from every corner of creation: from the deepest pit of damnation to the heights of heaven:

To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing–
To God and to the Lamb, who is the great I AM,
while millions join the theme, I will sing …

We hope this Lent can be a time to experience God’s wondrous love reaching each of us and drawing us together.