The Essential Mission of Music

The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.  If heed is not paid to this, it is not true music but a diabolical bawling and twanging.”  Johann Sebastian Bach

“It is consoling to think that the emotions that music arouses in us have something to do with the makeup of the universe.  The eternal relation of math and music has been a perennial question since Plato, from Boethius and Cassiodorus in late antiquity, through Dante’s celestial harmony in Paradiso and Shakespeare’s discussion in The Merchant of Venice.”  David P. Goldman, “The Divine Music of Mathematics,” First Things, April 2012, p. 33

“Music employs number both in its harmonic foundation and its metrical presentation in time.  But what sort of number is it?”  Ibid

“In the sixth book of his De Musica, Augustine asserted the existence of a higher order of number that in some way stands about the senses, the numeri iudiciales or ‘number of judgment’ which ‘come from God’ and enable the mind to judge what it perceives and remembers, as well as what it expects:  first, that neither our sense perception nor even our memory explains how we hear music; second, that the faculty by which we judge the number (rhythms or harmonies) of music is also a kind of number; and third, that this higher-order number comes  from God.”  Ibid., p 33,34.

“There are two musical situations on which I think we can be confident that a blessing rests.  One is where a priest or an organist, himself a man of trained and delicate taste, humbly and charitably sacrifices his own (aesthetically right) desire and gives the people humbler and coarser fare than he would wish, in a belief (even, as it may be, the erroneous belief) that he can thus bring them to God.  The other is where the stupid and unmusical layman humbly and patiently, and about all silently, listens to music which he cannot, or cannot fully, appreciate, in the belief that it somehow glorifies God, and this if it does not edify him this must be his own defect.”  C. S. Lewis, Christian Reflections, p. 96, 97

American Minute with Bill Federer

Mar. 21 – Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach was born MARCH 21, 1685.By age 10 his parents had died.

At 18, Bach was a church organist, followed by positions in royal courts.

In 1717, Bach was imprisoned because a duke in the city of Weimar did not want him employed elsewhere.

Widowed with 7 children, he remarried and had 13 more.

Considered the “master of masters,” Johann Sebastian Bach’s works include:

Passion According to St. Matthew;
Jesus, Meine Freude (Jesus, My Joy!);
Christen, ätzet diesen Tag (Christians, engrave this day); and
Easter Oratorio.

Bach wrote more than 300 sacred cantatas, including:

Christ lag in Todes Banden (Christ lay in death’s bonds);
Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (A mighty fortress is our God);
Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit (God’s Time is the very best Time); and
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Sleepers Awake).

In “The Story of Mankind,” 1921, Hendrik Willem van Loon wrote:

“By the middle of the 18th century the musical life of Europe was in full swing. Then there came forward a man who was greater than all others, a simple organist of the Thomas Church of Leipzig, by the name of Johann Sebastian Bach.

In his compositions for every known instrument…to the most stately of sacred hymns and oratorios, he laid the foundation for all our modern music. When he died in the year 1750 he was succeeded by Mozart…then Ludwig van Beethoven.”

While cantor at Thomas Church of Leipzig, Bach taught Luther’s Small Catechism.

Johann Sebastian Bach stated:

“The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul. If heed is not paid to this, it is not true music but a diabolical bawling and twanging.”

On February 22, 1990, President George H.W. Bush stated:

“The Bible has had a critical impact upon the development of Western civilization. Western literature, art, and MUSIC are filled with images and ideas that can be traced to its pages.”

Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson wrote in McCollum v. Board of Education, 1948:

“It would not seem practical to teach either practice or appreciation of the arts if we are to forbid exposure of youth to any religious influences. MUSIC without SACRED MUSIC would be incomplete, even from a secular point of view.”


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