“Now No Condemnation”

On July 28, 1750 the great man of faith and church musician Johann Sebastian Bach entered eternal glory. His music reveals to us that he was not afraid of death, but rather welcomed it because he knew it was the door to eternal life with his Savior, Jesus Christ. The Lutheran church pauses on July 28 to commemorate his life, music, and faith. In case you missed it, here is… Read More »

The Passion According to St. Matthew

Observe Good Friday this year by watching the Peoria Bach Festival 2010 performance of the St. Matthew Passion. You can find it on the Peoria Bach Festival YouTube page by clicking here or following the link below. Although the performance is in German, English subtitles are provided making the story easy to understand and follow. The translation is a literal one so that the original meaning of the German is as… Read More »

O Come, Let Us Sing Unto the Lord” (Psalm 95) – Handel

The Chandos Anthems by Georg Frideric Handel (1685-1759) are among the hidden gems of sacred music. Here is a setting of selected verses of Psalm 95. Psalm 95 is an exhortation to sing and praise God for all He is and all that He does. For this work Handel uses five verses from Psalm 95 and adds to them selected verses of similar sentiment from other psalms. The verses used… Read More »

I Will Lift up Mine Eyes (Psalm 121) – Walford Davies

Having grown up in the mountains of Papua New Guinea, Psalm 121 has always been a favorite: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills.” We were literally surrounded by mountains. In the distance on either end of the valley the mountains cascaded over each other in infinite shades of blue and green. As we looked southeast towards Mt. Hagen, we could see the rugged mountain range over which the… Read More »

Beati quorum remissae (Psalm 32) – Wadsworth

“Beati quorum remissae” by American composer Zachary Wadsworth (b. 1983) is a setting of portions of Psalm 32, the second of the seven Penitential Psalms. This intense setting alternates the English text with the Latin. It begins with verse 3 which relates to us the consequences of remaining silent and keeping our sins to ourselves. While I held my tongue, my bones withered awaybecause of my groaning all day long.… Read More »

Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God” (Psalm 51) – Handel

The importance of Psalm 51 in Christian music and faith cannot be underestimated. It is significant in that it provides for us an example of deep and heartfelt repentance which is at the heart of our faith. The story involves a king who after having an adulterous affair and getting a woman pregnant, gets wrapped up in an elaborate cover-up that leads to deceit, treachery, murder, and despair. The full… Read More »

Peoria Bach Festival 2016

Join us from June 5-12, 2016 for the fourteenth annual Peoria Bach Festival. This year’s festival will feature eight concerts and six other events including a free lunch lecture and an event for children. For a complete schedule and details, please call (309) 676-4609 or visit www.peoriabachfestival.org. The first concert on Sunday, June 5 will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1420 West Moss Avenue and feature organist James Kibbie (see www.agopeoria.org).… Read More »

Fanfare, Fugue, and Chorale on CRUCIFER (Brass Choir)

The best sacred music is not “background” music, but rather music that proclaims the eternal truths of Scripture whether it is a simple song or one in which the message is written into the music. The hymn “Lift High the Cross” (CRUCIFER) has become an iconic one for many Christians because it highlights the centrality of the crucifixion of Jesus to the faith. Martin Luther speaks powerfully to this dogma in his Theology… Read More »

Top Ten List – December 2015

Happy New Year! In case you missed some of them, here are the ten most popular blog posts on this blog as of December 31, 2015. By far the most popular blog was on the Christmas carol “Silent Night,” but a close second is the one on “O Holy Night” and the one on the Biblical significance of bells. If you have any topics on music and worship that you would… Read More »

Handel’s Messiah – Biblical, Christological, and Eschatological

Arguably the most popular musical work of all time, Handel’s Messiah sets to beautiful and awe-inspiring music Old and New Testament passages that proclaim the salvation story. According to one scholar,  the librettist Charles Jennens (1700-73) “intended Messiah as a statement of faith in Christ’s divinity, in reaction to the increasing popularity of rationalised atheism.” In July 1741, Jennens wrote to his friend Edward Holdsworth: Handel says he will do… Read More »