He was known as the “master nerd of all music” and his music wasn’t beloved from the start and this could be why his entire compositions weren’t preserved, resulting in many cantatas being lost. He composed music that is still being analyzed, unearthing new revelations from the drudgery of a nerdy composer that used complicated technical tricks (like using numerology in his work, such as the 10 repetitions of the melody in “These are the holy 10 commandments.” But then there are musical elements centering on the number three, for the Trinity, and four, for the Gospels. Patterns of five represent the five wounds Jesus suffered on the cross. The number 12 represented the apostles. And the examples go on and on). His techniques were subtle, needing a detective eye to uncover – and so complex, needing a computer to analyze. Although his work is cerebral, it is also beautiful music and that’s what makes him so brilliant.
As for me, not being a musical composer – mastering only one song on the piano that I hang my hat on (“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”) what hooked me to Johann Sebastian Bach was the depth of his writing (on so many simultaneously levels) and the humbleness he summoned every time he faced a blank composition sheet. He prayed and asked God to use him as an instrument. His compositions are noted with the initials J.J. “Jesu Juva” this is in Latin meaning Jesus’ help) and Bach signed his cantatas with SDG, short for Soli Deo Gloria meaning “To the glory of God alone”.
He didn’t write for the musically uneducated but he didn’t write for the most polished of music critics either; his only audience was the divine, eternal, infinite God. He wrote for God’s glory alone.
So, this is what would inspire me, a 40-something year old Momma to stretch out my left writing hand at a tattoo parlor in the hipster-part of Nashville, and tattoo it with Bach’s brand “SDG.” It’s a visual reminder in my big polish head, to glorify him by how I live.
I believe that we are not just a random thought, created without a purpose. Not dancing digits in a world without a formula. Not here to make noise.
We are made from God’s divine thought, with a purpose. For a purpose. A formula so complex that uses all of us as variables with the answer bringing Glory to God. Heaven to earth. Supporting the idea from Aristotle, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Reminding me that He is the common denominator in all, and that each of us have a unique musical note to gloriously play in the world’s orchestra.