Post 257: Christmas in times of Bach

How Christmas is celebrated varies from century to century. I personally wish I’d been alive when J.S. Bach brightened the season with his Christmas Oratorio. You may not have time to listen to the whole video, but I suspect you will be blessed if you settle away from the hustle and bustle of our commercialized Santa-driven Christmas for a time when Christ not only was in Christmas, His birth was the whole reason for celebration.

When I was hospitalized for Wegener’s granulomatosis in December 2003- January 2004, I missed the Christmas season. In a still hospital room at University Hospital in Denver, Colorado, where I was shut off from news, music, most contact with others but hospital staff, Bach’s final glorious exaltation of the new-born Christ Child played over and over in my mind, a brassy, diamond-like brilliance of contrapuntal expression of J.S. Bach’s intent to bring glory only to God through his work.

This music gave me hope I was healing, that I was going to live, that there was reason to live!

My hope, wish, and prayer for you is that you have a blessed Christmas. Though I don’t speak much about faith or try to proselytize others, one thing Christianity brought to this world was some of the greatest works of art and music ever created. In some of those works, you can find a pure expression of God’s grace and benevolence.

Johann Sebastian Bach (31 March [O.S. 21 March] 1685 – 28 July 1750) truly stands among those who, though music, created the best of all these expressions of faith. In his Christmas Oratorio, we also prepare to stand in front of the cross, where Christ died for our sins. It isn’t all Santa and electronic gizmos, afterall. There is a greater meaning to the season. It is a celebration, of course, but it is the beginning of a spiritual road to Easter and the Resurrection. (Sorry to get a little “preachy”!)

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