Did you know that Johann Sebastian Bach had a rather conciliatory note to his music? Composing in an age when the conflict between the Lutheran Orthodoxy and Lutheran Pietism ran high, he could even hark back to sources a generation earlier who remembered well the atrocities of the Thirty Years War. Thus, a yearning for peace and for the silent reflection of beauty permeates much of Bach’s cantatas.
One of them, BWV 180, was performed on Nov 14th in our church. None other than our very own Benjamin Berman had organized this beautiful concert – this time in his function as the choir director of Rutgers Protestant Campus Ministry (RCPM) / Trinity House, and as the founder of and conductor for The Trinity House Bach Society.
It was a most beautiful evening with an appreciative congregation that nicely filled the sanctuary. I say “congregation” rather than “audience”, because the cantata was embedded in a regular evening worship setting. Much of its beauty was derived from the diversity of the people, musicians and worshipers alike.
RCPM represents the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the American Baptist Churches, as well as our Reformed Church in America. In addition to representatives from these traditions, we had members from Second Reformed Church and the Six Mile Run Reformed Church in our midst.
The musicians, choristers and soloists of the Bach Society impressed with their musical precision, as well as their mastering of the German language. It was moving to see so many young students and professionals devoted to the serious beauty of Bach’s music. May this music’s message of peace and harmony continue to influence us during this Advent season, as we reflect on the return of our Lord.