Friday, March 21, 2008

Bach on his Birthday (SDG)

Johann Sebastian Bach was born on this day in 1865. Though it could be argued that there were those equal to him, we can confidently say that no one as ever been any better. Listening to Bach gives you the sense that there is something more profound, more beautiful, more compelling, and more desirable than you had considered before you listened to him. As much as any composer, Bach's true inspiration comes through in his compositions. Therefore, it should not surprise us that he would sign off on his compositions with the letters SDG, meaning Soli Deo Gloria. Truly Bach sensed his giftedness was for the promotion of God's beauty, truth, and good in the world. In this, he should remind and challenge us all to be more aware of our calling and mandate found in 1Cor. 10:31: "...whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

Yet, not only is it Bach's birthday but it is also Good Friday. As we remember our Lord's passion and call to mine Calvary, I thought it good to consider Bach's interpretation of it in his now incomparable piece St Matthew's Passion. Like Handel's Messiah, Bach's St. Matthew's Passion captures the biblical revelation in music like nothing before or since. If you have some time, listen and appreciate Bach's desire to communicate the suffering of his and our Saviour. Surely, our Lord was forsaken so we would not have to be.

O, the passion! O, the wonder of Christ our God!


wwdunc said...

I totally missed that yesterday was J.S. Bach's birthday. However, I did make my yearly Good Friday visit to an Episcopal Church in our county which for the past several years has presented in English one of Bach's Passions (either the St. John or the St. Matthew) as the central part of their noon Good Friday service. This year, the choir sang the St. Matthew Passion.

Besides enjoying the wonderful music, I love to follow along and meditate on the text, which is printed out in full in the program. Truly a worshipful experience.

John said...

An appreciation for good theology and good music. What a rare and great combination!

I could more easily call this "worship" music than what normally goes by that name.