Remembering “Dr. Gus”

Dwight Gustafson conducting in Rodeheaver Auditorium, 2010

Dwight Gustafson (better known to us as “Dr. Gus”) passed away a few weeks ago on January 28. He served as dean of the School of Fine Arts at Bob Jones University for 43 years and had a profound influence on thousands of lives, including mine.

Bju.edu has a beautiful tribute page to Dr. Gus. What follows is the personal tribute that I shared:

“I attended BJU after Dr. Gus had ‘retired,’ but he still did a lot of conducting. I feel so fortunate to have learned under his direction for many concerts and operas. I think my favorite memories are from our evening opera understudy rehearsals with just him, the piano, and the other soloists. His immense scholarship combined with his personal warmth were inspiring. He once took the time to ‘lean over me’ [he was a very tall man] with a personal word of encouragement that helped keep me in grad school at a time of great personal struggle. I will never forget that.

“To his family: you have always treated me like a son and brother. I have seldom felt more welcomed than in your presence. Dr. Gus always made me feel that way, too. His warmth and wit survive in you. Praying for you all. Dr. Gus will be missed…and remembered.”

[Dr. Gus is the grandfather of Brian Pinner, my good friend and musical collaborator. Together we wrote “O God My Joy” and “See the Christ.”]

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“See the Christ” (our new hymn!)

Brian Pinner and I have collaborated on a new hymn called See the Christ! It’s our first tag-team effort since O God, My Joy four years ago. We also collaborated on this blog post to bring you some of our thoughts behind its creation.

The text for this hymn intentionally follows Philippians 2:5-11. That familiar passage admonishes us to have the same mindset as Jesus, the divine servant who obeyed the Father through condescension, suffering, death, and enjoyed subsequent exaltation. See the Christ moves through this Christology and makes application along the way. For instance, the second stanza presents Christ’s suffering and death not simply as a demonstration of His love for sinners, which it certainly was, but fundamentally as a demonstration of Christ’s love for the Father. Jesus died on the cross because He was willingly obeying His Father, whose design from eternity past was to use the most horrible event in history for the most glorious good! The death of Jesus was the crux of God’s plan to make all things new. Philippians 2 illustrates what happens to those who give their lives to God: there may be suffering and death, but there will also be resurrection and exaltation! “Trust the Father with your life; / He will turn all wrongs to right.” He did it with His Son; He will do it for all those in Christ. In the last stanza, we see this happen in the glorious exaltation of Christ “for the Father’s glory.” The gospel is radically God-centered. At the end of the age Jesus will give the kingdom to His Father, who will be “all in all” (I Corinthians 15:28).

We wanted the music for this hymn to match the majesty of this profound passage while still being very accessible and singable for the average congregation. We also wanted to use harmonies and melodic lines that are refreshing and modern. We hope the result will satisfy on many levels. The added 2/4 measures may be slightly surprising initially, but we really feel that they give the music time to breathe and build.

Obviously, the applications and implications of this Scripture text have great depth and breadth. We hope that you will find it useful and appropriate for many themes and seasons.

Click here to find the demo, sheet music, and lyrics resources on the Music Page.