Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach was born March 21, 1685. By age 10 his parents had died. At 18, Bach was a church organist, then held positions in royal courts.

In 1717, Bach was imprisoned because a duke in the city of Weimar did not want him employed elsewhere. Widowed with 7 children, he remarried and had 13 more.

Considered the “master of masters,” Johann Sebastian Bach’s works include:

  • Jesus, Meine Freude (Jesus, My Joy!)
  • Passion According to St. Matthew
  • Christen, ätzet diesen Tag (Christians, engrave this day)
  • Easter Oratorio

Bach wrote more than 300 sacred cantatas, including:

  • Christ lag in Todes Banden (Christ lay in death’s bonds)
  • Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (A mighty fortress is our God)
  • Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit (God’s Time is the very best Time)
  • Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Sleepers Awake)

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In “The Story of Mankind,” 1921, Hendrik Willem van Loon wrote: “By the middle of the 18th century the musical life of Europe was in full swing. Then there came forward a man who was greater than all others, a simple organist of the Thomas Church of Leipzig, by the name of Johann Sebastian Bach. In his compositions for every known instrument … to the most stately of sacred hymns and oratorios, he laid the foundation for all our modern music. When he died in the year 1750 he was succeeded by Mozart … then Ludwig van Beethoven.”

While serving as cantor at Thomas Church of Leipzig, Bach taught Luther’s Small Catechism. He stated: “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.”

On Feb. 22, 1990, President George H.W. Bush stated: “The Bible has had a critical impact upon the development of Western civilization. Western literature, art, and music are filled with images and ideas that can be traced to its pages.”

Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson wrote in McCollum v. Board of Education, 1948: “It would not seem practical to teach either practice or appreciation of the arts if we are to forbid exposure of youth to any religious influences. Music without sacred music would be incomplete, even from a secular point of view.”

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