Bruckner’s Gethsemane

The devoutly Catholic Bruckner dedicated his last symphony to “the dear God,” and prayed in his final illness that the Lord would allow him to finish his masterwork. In the event, his prayer was not granted. Yet in a deeper sense the three movements he lived to complete could hardly be surpassed. The sublime and harrowing third movement makes any further statement, this side of heaven, redundant! Continue Reading »

Alone in the Garden?

On Evangelical hymns: Can I really sing about a relationship with the Lord that is so joyous that no other person has ever experienced it? Doesn’t this go beyond the bounds of hyperbolic spiritual enthusiasm? Continue Reading »

Songs of Exile

Where has all the dark Christian music gone? It doesn’t take much listening to notice how blithe and breezy popular Christian music has become. At the data journalism site FiveThirtyEight, Leah Libresco has run the numbers and found that the lyrics of recent Christian hits skew towards life, . . . . Continue Reading »

No Apology for Bach's Theology

As the cantor of Leipzig, Bach was responsible for composing music for Sunday ­services, which produced reams of choral ­music, mostly cantatas. Because of this, it would be difficult to find a composer who wrote more sacred music. Like Victoria and Bruckner, Bach’s works stem from his own devotion. But more than any other composer, Bach uses complex music to articulate theology. . . . Continue Reading »