Bach as a Devout Lutheran

We all know of J. S. Bach as one of the most revered composers of all time and that many of our hymns were written or harmonized by him. His compositions, sacred or secular, were not only those of a dedicated musician, but also of a devout Lutheran.
His ancestors, in 1597, left Hungary to return to Germany in order to protect their Lutheran heritage from Roman Catholicism. They settled in an area of strong Lutheran connections, where Bach was born and schooled in the faith from a young age.
Many of his chorales were Lutheran in origin and he used them as the basis for music he strove to develop as a significant and meaningful part of worship. In mid 1700 he wrote the Orgelbüchlein (“Little Organ Book”) a collection of 46 organ preludes based on Lutheran chorales and embellished in a wide variety of forms and complex textures.
Bach is also known for his cantatas and around 200 have survived. They were written to reflect the message of the Gospel for every Sunday and Feast Day in the Lutheran calendar.
In the coming weeks, we will be hearing a selection from the famous Wachet Auf (Sleepers Wake) from Cantata 140 as well as his beautiful and moving harmonization of O Sacred Head Now Wounded.
Bach dedicated every piece of music he wrote, whether sacred or secular to the glory of God. He signed each composition S.D.G (To the Glory of God Alone). Today, he is commemorated in the Lutheran calendar on July 28, the day of his death.
When he died in 1750, it signified the end of the Baroque era. His music fell out of favour for over 100 years, when Felix Mendelssohn was given the manuscript for the St. Mathew Passion. The resulting performance brought Bach’s genius and significance back to the people of Germany and beyond. How wonderful for us to have this gift brought back to us and to be a part of our lives in so many ways!

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