September 5, 2011

His Holiness’ Favorite Cantata

Johann Sebastian Bach
I remember a concert performance of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach—in Munich in Bavaria —conducted by Leonard Bernstein. At the conclusion of the final selection, one of the Cantate, I felt—not through reasoning, but in the depths of my heart—that what I had just heard had spoken truth to me, truth about the supreme composer, and it moved me to give thanks to God. Seated next to me was the Lutheran bishop of Munich. I spontaneously said to him: Whoever has listened to this understands that faith is true—and the beauty that irresistibly expresses the presence of God’s truth.

~ Benedict XVI, speaking at the audience last Wednesday (August 31, 2011) with the pilgrims and faithful gathered in the small square of Castel Gandolfo. 

Well, it is not the first time that Pope Benedict has called art and music “the greatest apologetic for our faith.” This time, however, His Holiness added the above personal recollection. And I hope you will appreciate to know that the Cantata of Bach that so profoundly touched the heart of the future pope was the one that bears the catalog number BWV 140, which was composed by JSB for the Mass of the twenty-seventh Sunday after the feast of the Holy Trinity, the last Sunday before Advent in the Lutheran liturgical year (via Sandro Magister). Here it is, accompanied with beautiful pictures of the Lake District in England:

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