Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Soli Deo Gloria

J.S. Bach placed the initials "SDG" on each of his compositions. They represented the Latin words Soli Deo gloria [Glory to God alone]. Rich Tuttle, worship leader in a Baptist church, commends J.S. Bach as a model for all worship leaders, not just because he was a great musician, but because of his sense of calling and his dedication, evidenced by his immersion in Scripture:
.... Bach’s personal Bible in reality was multiple volumes of Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible along with a commentary by Abraham Calov. Over time these volumes were brought together and they now reside in Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. But the most interesting thing to note is that there are numerous notes and underlinings found throughout the Biblical text as well as the Commentary, not the least of which deal with his theological understanding of the church musician and church music.

We find a note at the beginning of 1 Chronicles 25, a chapter which lists David’s assignment of the Levites in regards to instruments and song, “This chapter is the true foundation of all God-pleasing church music.” Another note in 2 Chronicles 5:12-13 reads, “In devotional music, God is always present with His Grace.”

We also find Bach underlining Luther’s words at 2 Thessalonians 3:12, a passage about vocation, “Lord, I accept my calling and do what You have commanded, and will in all my work surely do what You will have done; only help me to govern my home, help me to regulate my affairs, etc.”

And from this article we read: “Bach's view of music can perhaps best be summarized by his own comments next to passages in 1 Chronicles and Psalms in the Calov Bible. Bach underlined that musicians are to 'express the Word of God in a spiritual songs and psalms, sing them in the temple, and at the same time to play with instruments.' In the Psalms, Bach underlined commentary which points out that two prophets served King David by playing musical instruments as part of their official duties. Bach saw himself in such an office. He proclaimed God's Word with his music, and he did so with the most beautiful music he was able to compose.” ....

...Bach was a serious student of Scripture. Of course we are all interested in what Bach wrote and underlined about music but we find that out of all of his markings only 3 percent of them deal with music. Bach dug into the entire Word, and not just the parts that he felt applied to him and his calling. ....

How different would our songs for worship be today if every church musician was as familiar with the Bible as Bach was? Imagine the impact it would make for those who compose songs, those who lead singing, and those who play instruments in our worship services! A life consumed with the Word of God is a life that will overflow with the Word of God. .... [more]
Sound Doxology: Worship Leaders: Imitate J.S. Bach