Music Beyond the Wrangling of the World

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.

About Rev. Dr. Hartmut Kramer-Mills

Hartmut Kramer-Mills, a native of Jena, Germany, began his theological education at Heidelberg University. After the Middle Exam in 1986 he received a scholarship from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches for McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. He graduated from McCormick with a Master of Divinity in 1988. He graduated from Marburg University in Germany with the Ecclesiastical Exam in 1990, and received a Dr. theol. from Greifswald University, Germany, in 1997. From 1990 to 1991 he was vicar at St. Wenzel in Naumburg, Germany. He was ordained minister of word and sacrament in 1993 through the Protestant Church of the Church Province of Saxony. From 1993 to 1998 he served as assistant pastor in Stoessen, Goerschen, and Rathewitz, Germany. At the same time he was lecturer for Church History at Erfurt College in Germany. From 1999 to 2000 he served the Spotswood Reformed Church in New Jersey as interim pastor. Since 2000 he and his wife serve the First Reformed Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey, as co-pastors.
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