In the book Writing in the Margins, Lisa Nichol Hickman shares marginalia examples from the Bible of Johann Sebastian Bach. Next to 1 Chronicles 25 Bach wrote:
“This chapter is the true foundation of all God-pleasing music.”
Curious, I read the passage and discovered that like much of Chronicles it read to me like a list of names that didn’t have a lot of meaning to me. I thought, “This passage is not speaking to me. Why did it come alive in such a meaningful way for Bach?”
So I made myself read the passage again looking for the answer to the question: What is God-pleasing music? And the passage opened up to me in an entirely new way!
- It is prophecy: God speaks to us through music!
- It offers thanksgiving and praise.
- It serves the house of God.
- It requires training and skill.
- It’s a gift that runs in families.
It’s clear from Bach’s life and what is known about his strong Lutheran faith that he saw music as service to the glory of God; he often signed both secular and church work “in the name of Jesus.” And of course, he had 20 children and came from a musical family; music was always a family affair for him. He was also a music teacher, so I can understand his appreciation for the emphasis on training and skill in the passage. But doesn’t it profoundly change your understanding of Bach’s music to know that he so easily related to a Biblical passage equating music with prophecy? It makes me want to listen to some Bach!!! It also makes me appreciate the many times that a piece of music spoke straight to my heart!
I thought I might share a link to another blog post written on the subject by a fellow member of the Journaling Bible Community on Facebook (It is fun to see her margin art, too)!