Category Archives: Bach

J. S. Bach’s ‘Faith at Work!’

"For the Glory of God alone"
“For the Glory of God alone”

J.S. Bach loved Jesus! For Bach, there was really no difference between the worldly and the divine. His life as a believer was the same as his life as a musician, as a husband, as a father, and as a professional. (Brian McCreath, ‘The Bach Hour’) His music sings of passion for God in the battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil; and of his desire to live Jesus’ greatest command of loving God and neighbor. I needed this one today! Maybe you do too. (I’ve listed the source and links at the end of the post.)

God Alone Shall Have My Heart
(Cantata # 169)

1. Sinfonia

2. Arioso and Recitative A

God alone shall have my heart.
Indeed I observe of the world,
which holds its dung as priceless,
since it treats me with such friendliness,
that it would like to be
the only beloved of my soul.
But no; God alone shall have my heart:
I find in Him the highest good. We see indeed
here and there on earth
a little brook of peacefulness,
which springs from the goodness of the Highest;
God however is the source, overflowing with streams,
there I create what forever
can nourish me truly and satisfyingly: God alone shall have my heart.

3. Aria A

God alone shall have my heart.
I find in Him the highest Good.
He loves me during evil times
and in blissfulness
He will shower me with the goodness of His house.

4. Recitative A

What is the love of God?
The rest of the spirit,
the delightful pleasure of the mind,
the paradise of the soul.
It closes off hell,
and opens heaven;
it is the chariot of Elijah,
which will bear us up to heaven
into the bosom of Abraham.

5. Aria A

Die in me,
world and all your love,
so that my breast
for ever and ever on earth
becomes practised in the love of God;
die in me,
arrogance, riches, greed,
you rejected urges of the flesh!

6. Recitative A

Yet also keep in mind
to be faithful to your neighbor!
For thus it is written in the Scriptures:
you shall love God and your neighbor.

7. Chorale

O sweet love, bestow your favor on us,
let us feel the fervor of love,
so that we might love each other from our hearts
and remain of one mind in peace.
Kyrie eleison.

WGBH radio has a unique program, The Bach Hour, with episodes archived online. The programs include brief introductions and sometimes interviews. Each includes a Cantata – or sacred choral work – that is often written for that week of the Church Year. Translation links are in each program intro.  The above work is linked here. Check it out! 


Serve Christ in the Ordinary

Quotidian.001Don’t miss the obvious focus of God’s activity in His world! It is not to be found primarily in the extraordinary, but in the ordinary; the everyday. The word for it is the quotidian.  The sermon from our Faith at Work series is linked here

I want to also share a new song – written to this theme, called Before You I Kneel: A Worker’s Prayer.
(It features J. S. Bach’s melody “Wachet Auf” played on folk instruments.)


Here are the words:

“Before You I kneel, my Master and Maker,
To offer the work of my hands.
For this is the day You’ve given Your servant;
I will rejoice and be glad
For the strength I have to live and breathe,
For each skill Your grace has given me,
For the needs and opportunities
That will glorify Your great name.

Before You I kneel and ask for Your goodness
To cover the work of my hands.
For patience and peace to shape all my labor,
Your grace for thorns in my path.
Flow within me like a living stream,
Wear away the stones of pride and greed
‘Til Your ways are dwelling deep in me
And a harvest of life is grown.

Before You we kneel, our Master and Maker;
Establish the work of our hands.
And order our steps to seek first Your kingdom
In every small and great task.
May we live the gospel of Your grace,
Serve Your purpose in our fleeting days,
Then our lives will bring eternal praise
And all glory to Your great name.”

By: Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, Jeff Taylor, and Stuart Townend

Is Jesus ‘Enough?’ – Listen to Bach

enough-titlePrinceton mathematician, Bernard Chazelle runs out of superlatives for J.S. Bach. He calls Bach the most human of all composers who “gets to your soul through your body.”
Here is a gem of an article with embedded excerpts of music that will make you an instant Bach fan. (You can also listen to a fascinating On Being interview by Krista Tippett.)

Speaking of Bach, I was preparing a sermon on coveting and contentment. I’d decided to title it, Enough” (available for listening here). The next day, I’m listening online to a weekly radio program, called The Bach Hour. Each week, it plays one of Bach’s cantatas with translation. This day it was No. 82. based on Jesus’ presentation as a baby in the temple and Simeon’s response, “Let your servant now depart in peace!” (Luke 2:22-35)

Bach’s first line title: “I Have Enough!”

1. I have enough,
I have taken the Savior, the hope of the righteous,
into my eager arms;
I have enough!
  I have beheld Him,
  my faith has pressed Jesus to my heart;
  now I wish, even today with joy
  to depart from here.
2. I have enough.
My comfort is this alone,
that Jesus might be mine and I His own.
In faith I hold Him,
there I see, along with Simeon,
already the joy of the other life.
Let us go with this man!
Ah! if only the Lord might rescue me
from the chains of my body;
Ah! were only my departure here,
with joy I would say, world, to you:
I have enough.
3. Fall asleep, you weary eyes,
close softly and pleasantly!
  World, I will not remain here any longer,
  I own no part of you
  that could matter to my soul.
  Here I must build up misery,
  but there, there I will see
  sweet peace, quiet rest.
4. My God! When will the lovely ‘now!’ come,
when I will journey into peace
and into the cool soil of earth,
and there, near You, rest in Your lap?
My farewells are made,
world, good night!
5. I delight in my death,
ah, if it were only present already!
  Then I will emerge from all the suffering
  that still binds me to the world.

(p.s. Ten of Bach’s children and his wife died in his lifetime.)

A few days later, I visited a dear sister in Christ in our church, who was near death after a long fight with cancer. I shared Bach’s words with her husband. He asked me to read it at her Memorial Service.
I will…
Bach was right.