‘The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” – Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Bach is well remembered for penning Soli Deo Gloria,“To the Glory of God Alone,” at the conclusion of his compositions, especially those intended for the worship of the gathered church. Perhaps this was a poignant way of declaring that it wasn’t the applause of a congregation, the praise of his patrons, or even the respect of his contemporaries that drove him to compose, but he did so for the honor and glory of God alone both in his work for the worship of the church and the edification of his neighbor.
Historian Jaroslav Pelikan commented that this commitment on Bach’s part,
“…bespeaks the conviction of Luther and the Reformers that the performance of any God-pleasing vocation was the service of God, even if it did not lead to the performance of chorales. The Bach of the Peasant Cantata, the partitas, and the concertos was not ‘too secular.’ These were, rather, the expression of a unitary … world view, in which all beauty … was sacred because God was one, both Creator and Redeemer.”
Soli Deo Gloria, the last of the Reformation ‘Solas,’ was one of the key summaries of Reformation thought, declaring that God’s redemptive work was thoroughly gracious, depending upon nothing but the work of God and directed toward nothing but the glory of God. But more than this, Soli Deo Gloria also became a summary of Reformation life as everyday life became the context in which man glorifies God. In a world so enraptured by human achievement and advancement, what continuing relevance can Soli Deo Gloria have? Ought our works also be concluded with the annotation S.D.G.?
Join us this Lord’s Day, October 29, for worship at Pottsville Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church as we consider the question, “Why Does Soli Deo Gloria Still Matter?” For directions click here. We look forward to seeing you.