Reflections from the Top of the World

I was humbled and convicted by my recent encounter with the reflections of a dying Linds Redding.  He had it all: as an artist and executive he was talented, passionate, and successful.  But with the devastating clarity of eyes saturated with impending mortality, he saw and exposed the contemptible hollowness of the promises of success […]

Pumpkins

Halloween and the Upside-Down Glory of the Cross

It’s that time of year again: pairs of darkened hands appear to emerge from beneath the surface of residential yards while seven-foot spiders weave gigantic cotton webs across house-fronts and skulls with glowing eyes laugh menacingly through the windows.  I have nothing against our society’s customs of dressing up and collecting candy per se, divorced […]

Piano

I Spy With My Metaphysical Eye

Episode in the Life of an Artist[1] A good friend of mine, a fellow musician, often remarks that musicians are “flaky.”  He’s not referring to all musicians or all artists, I think, but to a particular kind of person who seems more often to be found in the arts than elsewhere.  We probably know the […]

Acts of Art

Acts on Art (2 of 2)

In part 1, we observed that God is an artistic God, and that our being made “in the image of God” denotes not only a certain likeness to Him but also the fact that we are (and were made to be) visible representatives of the invisible God and his promises. This good news for the […]

Acts of Art

Acts on Art (1 of 2)

Today I decided I was going to start Acts.  With morning commitments hanging over my head, I asked God that something in this passage I had read so many times would yield new insight or at least encouragement.  So, hopeful if not particularly expectant, I dove into Acts—and almost drowned on the very first verse: […]

The Grace of Jesus in Bach’s Mark-Passion

J. S. Bach’s Mark-Passion [1] concludes with a tone of intense personal devotion that is the unique product of recognizing something of such worth that it overwhelms our perception and dominates our values. Bei Deinem Grab und Leichenstein, Will ich mich stets, mein Jesu, weiden Und über Dein verdienstlich Leiden, Von Herzen froh und dankbar […]

Glimpses of Glory in Mendelssohn’s “Reformation” Symphony

Mendelssohn is wonderfully subtle, I think: regular structures concealing the most striking and sometimes alarming glimmers of irregularity; a polite demeanor revealing glimpses of the most wild wonders and longing, if performers and listeners have ears to hear it. Glimpses and glimmers—that alone is a cardinal element of Mendelssohn’s genius, quite apart from what he […]

On Schubert’s Winterreise (Part 2 of 2)

Read part 1 here. In light of the failure of Winterreise’s premise to be ultimately convincing (as discussed in the last post), more practical-minded folk might easily view it as quintessentially immature and even comically or loathsomely self-pitying at base. It might be tempting to conclude that anyone who would find him/herself compelled by Winterreise simply […]

On Schubert’s Winterreise (Part 1 of 2)

Winterreise, meaning “winter journey” in German, is a song cycle by Franz Schubert to a text by Wilhelm Müller[i] that arguably stands at the zenith of the Western art-song literature. Against the backdrop of unrequited love, it describes a young man’s journey through a winter land-/psyche-scape. His basic awareness is emotional rather than rational: he is propelled […]

The Victory of Jesus in Bach’s John-Passion

Having considered the last chorus of Bach’s Matthew-Passion several weeks ago, I’d like to turn our attention now to the last chorus of his John-Passion. The text[1] reads: A-section: Ruht wohl, ihr heiligen Gebeine, Die ich nun weiter nicht beweine, Ruht wohl und bringt auch mich zur Ruh! Rest well, you holy limbs, Which I […]