Today I read a post by someone on a site called Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood. The title brought to mind S.D.G (Soli Deo Gloria, Latin for “to the glory of God alone”), the inscription that J.S. Bach put on the music he wrote for worship. Then when I listened to one of my students playing Bach’s Invention #10 today, I thought about it again. Usually these “coincidences” mean I should explore a bit more. So I searched for and found a few of Bach’s quotes.
“The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” I’m sure Bach wrote and played music for personal enjoyment, but also because he had to. It was his job and I’ve heard that he had 20 mouths to feed. He was also one of the greatest organists at the time. Yet he was humble about his extraordinary musical gifts. He said, “I worked hard. Anyone who works as hard as I did can achieve the same results.”
Regarding his organ skills, he said, “There’s nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.” Um, really, J.S.? The key here (bad pun) is to learn and to practice which keys to push and exactly when to do that. Perhaps he had no idea how musically brilliant he was. Or perhaps he focused on giving all glory to God, and as a result, was refreshed in his own soul even as he desired that for his listeners.
I love those reasons for making music: to glorify God and to be refreshed. Daughter Aimie in Los Angeles sent a text today to tell me that she was listening to “ambient piano music” while at work. Her job can be intense and stressful, so she’s found some favorite pianists to listen to and wondered if I knew who they were or had suggestions for others. Just so happens, a couple students are working on pieces composed by two of the recording artists she mentioned. Such serendipity!
These contemporary pianists/composers may or may not have the same philosophy that Bach did, but because music was God’s idea, He can still be glorified through its beauty and the way it reaches into the human heart and soul.
May all who read this be blessed today by listening to music that uplifts and refreshes your spirit.
Soli Deo Gloria