The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: For Easter and Passover, for both believers and non-believers of all kinds, J.S. Bach offers the perfect piece of spiritual music.

April 8, 2012
2 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

This weekend is a major weekend in terms of religion.

It features the Jewish Passover and the Christian Easter.

Both events celebrate freedom, one from slavery and the other from mortality.

I am often at a loss about what music best commemorates such events because so much religion seems to rely on a sense of its own superiority to other belief systems, toward which it can be downright hostile or even deadly.

Just look at the history of Holy Wars and The Crusades and Jihad and The Inquisition and the Hundred Years Wars and so on.

But leave it Johann Sebastian Bach (below), that old Reformation Lutheran himself, to offer us all a work that is as universal as music as genuine religious feelings – NOT religion intolerance – can get.

It is the “Erbarme dich” from his St. Matthew Passion.

The German title means “Have Mercy” and it applies, I think, to all of us and to each other.

It is what we expect for ourselves and what should extend to others.

So in honor of the various religious holidays and just a sense of universal humane bonding, I offer it today as a “You Must Hear This” selection.

If you have a better suggestion, The Ear wants to hear about it.


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