Today is designated to commemorate three great Lutheran musicians: Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frederick Handel, and Heinrich Schutz.
Bach is considered one of the greatest figures in all of Western music and is such a prominent and important figure within Lutheranism that he has been called “the fifth evangelist.” Although the three composers we remember today worked in different times and different settings, the core values that shaped their approach to music-making were similar: grounded in faith, and always to the glory of an ever-creating God, working through their imaginations and compositional skills.
We as Lutherans should be proud of these three ancestors of ours. We should still hear their music sung and played in the worship life of our congregations today. But is the point of this commemoration to recreate some magical historic past? No, the point of this commemoration is not only that we restore the music of Bach, Handel, and Schutz to our worship services if it isn’t there now, but rather to rejoice in the vast diversity of musical gifts that are present in this church we call Lutheran.
This message is excerpted from “The ‘Fifth Evangelist’ and friends” by Scott Weidler in the July/August 2015 Gather magazine. Today we commemorate Johann Sebastian Bach, 1750; Heinrich Schutz, 1672; George Frederick Handel, 1759; musicians.
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