Monday, October 11, 2010

J.S. Bach - the point 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.
J. S. Bach (1685-1750), Glory and Honor: the musical and artistic legacy of Johann Sebastian Bach, Gregory Wilbur & David Vaughan, Cumberland House Publishing, 2005, p. 1

What Bach says of music goes for pretty much everything else too! And yes, there can still be good in music not written by Christians, because we still retain a remnant of the image of God, but in terms of anchoring and purpose, it's totally adrift.



Philip said...

OK, John, I'll bite on this one. Why do so many contemporary Christian "worship groups" feel it necessary to ape the "diabolical bawling and twanging" of their secular cousins in performance? Maybe we need to emulate the exclusive and "a capella" psalm singing practised by many Reformed Churches!

Philip (Range Court)

John said...

I don't think style was what Bach was talking about!

And surely that's the point - style is secondary to intent and heart. Whether the style is plainsong, Bach or U2 is largely an issue of culture (and the tensions in churches over the issue are reflective of wider tensions in society).

Whether it is done with a heart to glorify God is the real issue.