Bach Vespers

Frightening,
this beauty. Bach
beckons us to be prostrate:
Wie du willst, du, Gott,
God – slaughtering our
self-significant striving.
God – circumscribing our cunning
conspiring to remain
distant. No,
this beauty is God’s
vengeance – coals of the Lord:
refining,
defining,
designing
me.

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12 thoughts on “Bach Vespers

  1. Diane Rivers says:

    I so enjoy your poetry – this is one I could just sit with and contemplate on many levels. Your thoughts are truly meditative. Love the alliteration, the line breaks, the rich imagery. And I truly resonate with the need to slaughter my self-significant striving. Beautiful.

  2. Marie Taylor says:

    circumscribing our cunning – well said. Marie

  3. shoreacres says:

    Beauty as a way to penetrate human hearts? to confront human intransigence? No question. Beauty as a frightening reality, or even as vengeance? I’ll have to think about that for a while.

    That said, who ever could have too much Bach? We have an active Bach Society in Houston, and of course Bach Vespers. Christ the King Lutheran hosts the Vespers and other concerts. Their jewel is a Noack organ that was designed specifically for the acoustics of the worship space. You can read about the organ here, if you like. There’s even a video of Claudia Dumschat performing the Fugue in C, S.564, which is lovely.

    Thank you for the poem, and for sending me back to Bach for the evening.

  4. agjorgenson says:

    Linda, thank you for your comments, and the two links. I was intrigued to learn that Houston is a sister city to Leipzig. I had the good fortune of attending a service there two years ago in St Thomas Church. And thanks as well for the Caudia Dumschat link, which I am listening to even while writing this!

    While writing the poem, I had in mind Luther’s teaching of the so-called “blessed exchange” wherein Christ on the cross takes our sin and brokenness and gives us in exchange his holiness and wholeness. This is construed as an act of such beauty that it leaves us in awe: silenced until, in due course, the Spirit – as a fire – refines us so as to enable us, with varying measure, to reflect this beauty with our own lives. Bach, in my estimation, portrays this and it was while attending a Bach Vesper service that this poem came to me. I felt as if the music was refining me. It was frightening: but in a good way!

  5. diannegray says:

    “Coals of the Lord” – wow! What an amazing poem this is…it says so much in so few words…

  6. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks for your encouraging words!

  7. jannatwrites says:

    “Coals of the Lord: refining, defining, designing me” – Really like this line!

  8. This is a remarkable, beautiful, piece, Allen. Such lovely Biblical resonances, the coal to the lips, the designing/refining/defining. Beautiful and very, very thought-provoking. Thank-you.

  9. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks… it really was a glorious concert. There is something so rich in hearing a Bach piece played in a church service, as intended – not that I am against him in a concert hall. It simply is a different experience.

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