By Shane Singleton as it appeared in the Smith County Reporter, August, 2015
I don’t listen to classical music very much. As a matter of fact, most of the classical music that I even know comes from watching the old Bugs Bunny cartoons. I do, however, know the names of many of the composers – Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, and so on. Yet there is one name that stands out for me; not because of his music, but because of his motivation – Johann Sebastian Bach.
When Bach was 17, he started as the organist at his church. Soon, thereafter, he was given charge of the music service as a whole. He wrote a brand new cantata…every month. During one three year period, Bach wrote, orchestrated, led and performed with his choir and orchestra, a new cantata every week. And while the music is extraordinary, even now, nearly 300 years later, it is still played and enjoyed. It is notes he wrote, other that the musical ones on his manuscript that stand out.
At the beginning of every composition manuscript of Bach’s, he wrote the letters “JJ,” which stands for ‘Jesu Java’. At the end of every manuscript, there is the notation “S.D.G”. This means every musical piece from the heart of Bach; every cantata, every effort-began ‘Jesus help me’ (J.J.) and Soli Deo Gloria (For the Glory of God). That’s the way to make beautiful music – begin with seeking the help of Christ and end with dedication those efforts to the glory of God.
The musical legacy of Bach is beautiful, but the legacy of his example is even more so. Let us begin with Christ with the goal of devotion to the glory of God and we make a life worth living. A life filled with beauty and leaving a lasting impression – that is beautiful music worth making.