TCC Playlist: Bach’s Christmas Oratorio

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nativity by giotto

The painting of the Nativity above is by Giotto. J.S. Bach is regarded as one of the most brilliant and productive composers in all of Western history, and yet he spent most of his life as an organist and choir director in churches throughout Germany. Bach was a devout Lutheran and most of his compositions were written for sacred spaces. He saw his music both as a form of creative expression and as an act of worship.  He described his vocation as the creation of “well-regulated church music to the glory of God.”  He wrote the initials “J.J.” (Jesu Juva “Help me, Jesus”) or “I.N.J” (In Nomine Jesu, “In the Name of Jesus”) at the beginning of  his manuscripts. At the end of a composition he would write “S.D.G” (Solo Deo Gloria, “To God Alone the Glory”). Bach loved the Bible, his work, and his large family. He had twenty children. On his deathbed at the age of 65 he wrote his final composition, “Before Thy Throne I Come.” He was buried in an unmarked grave. Listen to his entire “Christmas Oratorio” here and Bela Fleck’s version: