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Steve's Year End Update 2023 picture

Dear Friends and Supporters,

 I am writing this during the last week of Ordinary Time, before the Church begins her liturgical journey, once again, with the season of Advent.

Advent is a time to ponder the mystery of the One “who came with love to Bethlehem, who comes (now) with grace into our souls, and who will yet come with justice at the end of the age.”1. This is the season where we reverently wait in wonder before the incomprehensible mystery of “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27)

I’ve been thinking a lot about hope this past year. I am certain that being hopeful must mean something far richer and deeper than the blithe maintenance of a cheerful optimism amidst grim circumstances. The songs I have been writing have a thread of Easter hope running through them. They seem to be pointing to a future we can only dimly perceive, as through a fog… anticipating a glad surprise that doesn’t circumvent the painful labor of birth, but that patiently bears suffering for the sake of the world.

This is the way of Christ, whose incarnation reveals the glory of God as self-giving love.

New Album: The Glad Surprise (release date: September 2024)

I’ll be going into the studio early in the new year to begin recording my 22nd album, tentatively called The Glad Surprise. It will include, among other things, a couple of new songs I’ve written with Malcolm Guite; my setting of William Blake’s “The Divine Image”; a cover of Bruce Cockburn’s “Lovers in a Dangerous Time”; and at least one new guitar instrumental piece.

As with the last album, I’ll be writing a book of reflections as a companion to the songs. We’ve already begun to plot new music videos as well.

For your interest, this is designer Roberta Landreth’s first stab at an album cover. She borrowed heavily from the lyrics of one of the songs Malcolm and I wrote, simply called “Pentecost.”2.

The chorus goes:
This is the feast of fire, air, and water
Poured out and breathed, and kindled into earth
The earth herself awakens to her maker
Translated… translated out of death and into birth. 

“Such is the glad surprise,” writes Howard Thurman. “This is what Easter means in the experience of the [human] race. This is the resurrection! It is the announcement that life cannot ultimately be conquered by death… that there is strength added when the labours increase, that multiplied peace matches multiplied trials, that life is bottomed by the glad surprise.”3.

I could really use your support for this project. Costs of production and manufacturing will exceed $40,000 on top of salaries and business expenses requisite to this work.

As you are discerning how you might disperse your year-end giving, please consider my work and this particular project which we hope to release in early fall, 2024.

Of course, your donation is fully tax-receipt-able via our ministry partner IncarNation Ministries.  

I deeply appreciate your consideration. I have been able to create meaningful music and events for over 30 years largely because of the support of the wider community. 

Thank you so very much. Peace to you and yours this season. 

Steve Bell

1.Fr. Gabrielle of St Mary Magdalen, Divine Intimacy
2.Adapted from Malcolm Guite’s poem “Pentecost,” Sounding the Seasons
3.Howard Thurman, Meditations of the Heart

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