Recently David and I had the privilege to attend several Bach events during the Salem, Oregon residency of world-renowned Bach scholar and conductor, Helmuth Rilling. Herr Rilling is one of the foremost authorities in the performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s choral works. His insights and erudite examples served to bring to life two of Bach’s magnificent cantatas, “Ein feste burg” and “Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben.” Under the direction of Herr Rilling, the Willamette Master Chorus of Salem, Oregon presented a memorable evening of the glory of Bach’s music.
In a lecture on the “Spirituality of Bach’s Music” presented by Herr Rilling, the letters “JJ” often written on the top of the first page of a composition and the phrase “Soli deo gloria” were discussed. The letters “JJ,” an abbreviation for the Latin text, “Jesu juva” were for Bach a prayer, “Jesus Help” as I write this composition showing your glory. Bach ended his compositions with the Latin phrase, “Soli deo gloria” or “To the Glory of God Alone” as a prayer of thanksgiving to his God.
Nothing is more inspiring than the glorious music of Johann Sebastian Bach interpreted and conducted by a master.