Song written by Ben Milak (1975-1992)
Ben Milak was born in Buffalo, NY on March 17, 1975 and spent all 17 of his years as a member of First Trinity Lutheran Church in Tonawanda, NY. As a young child, Ben attended Sunday school, participated in the children’s Christmas programs and served as an acolyte. As he grew older, Ben was confirmed, became an active member of the youth programs and joined the boys’ basketball team. First Trinity was a very important part of Ben’s life and he made his presence known by his friendly attitude. An outgoing person, Ben was equally comfortable with both adults and kids.
Although Ben had learning disabilities and was hearing impaired for most of his life, his love of music was still evident. He began taking guitar lessons before he was diagnosed with leukemia and especially enjoyed the contemporary worship service at church.
While Ben was in Roswell Park Cancer Institute, he began working with music therapist Krista Robak. Krista encouraged Ben to write the lyrics to Lights are Being Strung Around the Houses and she enlisted her husband, Rev. Ward Robak, to write the music.
Ben went home to Jesus in 1992 and shortly thereafter the song was published and recorded by the worship band from First Trinity, Quest. It has since been recorded for Bethesda Lutheran Communities in both 2011 and 2014 and appears on Lights: A Christmas CD c.2014.
Lights… is played each Advent at First Trinity to celebrate Ben’s life and faith, to which Ben’s mom, MaryAnn Milak-Young says, “I believe that for those who knew Ben, hearing “Lights…” played and sung brings to mind a young man – with a warm smile, a friendly greeting and a strong faith – who knew and understood the joy of Christmas, and whose life was touched by a loving congregation.”