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November 2015

Celebrating Family

By | JBU Alumni, Liturgy, Music, Performance, Worship Arts | No Comments

During your four years at JBU, you meet a lot of people. You hear a lot of chapel speakers, sit in a lot of classes, go to a lot of church services, show up to a lot of resident life events, play on different intramural teams, and cheer in the athletic stands with a lot of community members.

Years down the road, you may find yourself accepting a friend request or following an Instagram feed of someone you know you met at JBU but can’t quite recall specifics about him or her. Your circles didn’t coincide much, but you know you were students at JBU together and that “connection” will always feel somewhat safe and known.

On the contrary, there are other people you meet at JBU that will be a part of you for the rest of your life. You might not talk all that often or name your kids after each other or even ever live in the same town again, but time and distance won’t change the place these people hold.

As a professor in the middle of my 7th year of teaching at JBU, it is one of my greatest privileges to watch these relationships form in the Department of Music & Theatre. On the first day of classes, I watch all of the freshman hurry to their Elements of Theory class with Dr. and Mrs. Wubbena. They are a rag-tag group of musicians – some with great ears, some with great minds, some with great charisma hoping to quickly develop their ears and minds, and some stand-out students with the whole “well-rounded musician” package. Silent comparisons fly; insecurities manifest themselves in loud, nervous laughter. It’s a beautiful scene pregnant with possibility.

I watch these students travel through the degree program together, and, as they do, they become one of the most authentic examples of community you’ll ever find. You see, every degree program this department has to offer is flat-out hard. These students get one hour of academic credit for 8-10 hours of work outside the studio or the classroom. They are held to graduate level standards in most courses. Together, these students tutor each other, study together, fail together and encourage each other to try again. They speak truth to each other when self-doubt and deprecation are looming. They create together, laugh together, and live and breathe music together. Not all of them make it through the program, but for those who do, they are forever part of our family. There’s something about becoming more with someone that leaves them inked on your heart forever.

Over 15 years ago, I traveled this same journey as an undergraduate student at JBU. To this day, I can still not only name the students I traveled with, but I can tell you where they are and what they are doing. When I think back to those difficult mornings of musicianship where we all desperately prayed for our name not to be called for sight singing, I had no idea that I was sitting amongst a group of individuals who would someday make a successful run in opera performance, finish PhDs and teach at prestigious universities, compose well-known choral works, write music textbooks, attend the Country Music Awards as a songwriter, or be a worship leader who works to integrate liturgy and contemporary music in the church.

This is the beauty of the department of Music & Theatre. The marriage of hard work and intimate, committed community is one that does not disappoint.

Seth Primm is a worship leader at Mosaic NWA, a Saturday night congregation at Fellowship Bible Church in Lowell, AR. Seth is one of the amazing people I grew to call family while here at JBU. While a student here, he was a standout tenor voice, a member of the Cathedral Choir, and a founding member of the men’s quartet. His arranging skills were innovative and fresh, and his ear was impeccable. After he gradated, he married Joy Elliott (who happened to be one of my roommates at JBU) and eventually accepted a worship leading position at Fellowship Bible Church. Since arriving at Fellowship, Seth has been instrumental in the development and growth of the Saturday night congregation called Mosaic. Seth and the worshipping community of Mosaic are releasing a new album of worship songs written for the Advent season. Give a listen to the song below and then click here to pre-order the full album.

Congratulations to Seth and his team. The Department of Music & Theatre at JBU is proud to call you “one of ours,” and we celebrate the gifts you have been given and the Kingdom work you are pursuing.