Monday, 18 February 2013

J.S. Bach - St. John's Passion: "Herr, unser Herrsher..."

J.S. Bach

The opening chorus to Bach's setting of St. John's passion is one of my personal favorites. Its haunting melodies and harmonies along with the dark bass give an impression of sorrow and even fear, and yet something else much greater stands out in the midst of all the turmoil: the majesty of God. And this gives reason to hope. This is what I hear in the music. Funnily, I didn't even know what the lyrics to the piece were when I heard this in the music; when I looked up the text it turned out to be remarkably expressive of the very things I was hearing - a testimony to Bach's genius!

Peter Kreeft put in an argument in his book on Christian apologetics which goes something like this: There is the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Therefore there must be a God. You either understand this one or you don't. Well, I don't know about you, but I certainly understand it. 

Here's the text and the Youtube of the first movement, the opening chorus, of St. John's Passion, by Johann Sebastian Bach. Enjoy, and have a good Lent.


Lord, thou our master, whose repute 
In every land majestic is!

Show us through this thy passion 
That thou, the very Son of God, 
In every age, 
E'en in the midst of deepest woe, 
Art magnified become! 

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