Music: To Worship, Uplift, Distract, Or Subvert

A comparison of four classical composers, with observations on how their music either helps uplift the soul to God, or draws the mind down to wallow in the things below.


1 – Johann Sebastian Bach: The Harmony Of Logos


Examples of Bach:

Brandenberg Concerto No.3:

Bach’s beautiful choral arrangement of the Lutheran hymn “By The Rivers Of Babylon” (“An Wasserflüssen Babylon”):

Toccata & Fugue:

Bach’s music describes in vivid sonic detail the reality of God’s divine order and eternal truth. There is seemingly no phrase or note in his music not written to this one end; all has distinct purpose. There is no waste; and everything is addressed in a most dignified manner. In Bach’s music, the Light is spoken of with awe and reverence; and the darkness is spoken of within the context of God’s mastery over all. There is pure joy in the Lord, with nothing trite or frivolous. There is pure fear of the Lord, with no hint of despair. There is no glorying in man’s thoughts or strength; but much rather in God’s wisdom and power.

Bach is (among other things) the great exegete of the keyboard, and his extensive repertoire lays out for us, as it were, the divinely appointed boundaries of every note’s potential use in relation to another, with every measure of his many compositions effortlessly reflecting his own remark that “harmony is close to Godliness”. There is no flirtation with musical subversion or mindless dissonance; and the occasional unusual sound is employed only to serve the well-being of the hearer as far as it reflects the realities of God’s truth within the created order of the music.

“The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.”
– Johann Sebastian Bach

How well indeed did his music fulfill that saying!
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2 – George Frideric Handel: The Sound Of Majesty


Examples of Handel:

Overture, from Messiah:

Comfort Ye My People, from Messiah:

Overture, from Alexander’s Feast of the Power of Music:

A contemporary and fellow countryman of Bach (though they never met), Handel’s music is hewn from the same substance, with an ever-present consciousness of honoring God’s glory. There is always a sense of divine majesty in his compositions, by which the sensitive hearer is at times made to feel that they tread on holy ground – and this without either pretension or any sense of overbearing forcefulness on the part of the music: it simply speaks for itself when played, as truth always does when uttered.

The instrumentation alone in his famous work “Messiah” can easily take one into the very holy of holies if the soul is prepared to heed its call; and the accompaniment of prophetic scriptures borne upon its heavenly melodies carries an anointing unparalleled in most hymnody. There is often a hush of awe which falls upon even the most secular of audiences when these pieces are performed in succession. That particular work was reported to have been written by Handel in the course of approximately 30 days (in its base form, without many of the large choral parts – still an astounding feat).
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3 – Ludwig Van Beethoven: The Self-Interest Of Man


Examples of Beethoven:

Piano Concerto No.1 – Allegro Con Brio:

Cello Sonata No.3 in A Major:

Beethoven’s music still lives within the world of reality and truth, but it often does very little to consciously acknowledge such. There is still an adherence to the orderliness and natural beauty of things; but the element of divine authority is replaced with a largely unanswered search for meaning. Vast portions of his compositions are dedicated to meander through the deep woods of a lonesomely reasoning mind; and their occasional discoveries, though useful, are not revelatory. There is natural light, but always the bright sun is hidden behind a blanket of cloud; and the divine is so distant that it need not be directly spoken of.

In Beethoven the transcendent is lost to long rabbit trails of thought, and, at times, impulsive little adventures in melody. Not that anything is ever objectionable to the hearing – there is still a clear appreciation for beauty – yet it is limited to created beauty, and seemingly not the Creator Himself. Beethoven does eventually come to an appropriately resolved end in his compositions; but we are usually left wondering what ultimate reason there was for much of the journey. There is a distinct sense of spiritual unfulfullment despite the typical excellency of his musical form.

One always remembers the feeling of Beethoven’s music; but only a few of his pieces leave a definite impression – and even where they do, all of his music is strongly laced with the sighing melancholy of humanism’s emptiness. Even where he breaks through his troubles into a happy theme, it is always with a certain dullness of heart. Even if the light is brilliant without, it is as though the eyesight remains dim from within. Any soul not lulled to a certain numbness by much of his music is left wanting for a warmth and wholeness that was not granted; and who now shall sing to that soul of the brighter Day?
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4 – Richard Wagner: The Madness Of Devils


Examples of Wagner:

Prelude of “Tristan und Isolde” – which has been cited by some as an early inspiration to Nietzsche’s trajectory of thought.* It is a daunting and tiresome listen:

The Ride of the Valkyries – known to often evoke in men a heightened desire for war and pointless worldly conquest:

Much of Wagner’s music (particularly as heard above) is the expression of the subversive amoral philosophy of will-to-power. There is no reality or truth there except whatever the soul desires to conquer and call its own. As an excellent example of this Satanic mindset, the starting notes of “The Ride Of The Valkyries” sound perfectly like the arousal of jealousy; and the ensuing journey is one of a constant blowing about in the swirling winds of the growing lust for power, which is the only meaning in this nihilistic worldview.

Therefore, its end is wanting of any real wholesome resolve; and throughout, the key signature changes frequently, but not often to a wholly related key. Its sense of mounting triumph has no source outside of what it has accomplished in itself by sheer will: the transcendent is drowned out completely by self-glory. At last, it crashes to an end after a swift tumble into darkness, having left the listener’s heart in great alarm. And after its echoes die off in the ears, one is left with no new thing to contemplate, no melody by which the soul is given a path toward the Logos of God. The divine is utterly cut off; the soul (if it has trusted the music) is left open to the first thought or spirit that may seek to lead it astray.

It is also worth noting that this Wagner, the composer, was a great personal influence upon Nietzsche, the philosopher; and a hefty portion of Wagner’s music certainly does seem to subvert divine order, just as the philosophy of that madman, leaving in its wake the chaotic void into which he himself no doubt gazed.
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There hasn’t been a time since the fall of man when music was not a battleground for men’s souls.
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Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!

Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody!

With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!

Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it!
Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the LORD, for He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

Psalm 98:4-9

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*For some additional interesting information on this subject matter, listen to this interview which I came across recently. He lays out the history of the subversion of music in the late classical era quite well, and particularly touches upon the relationship between Wagner and Nietzsche.
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** I do not own any of the music or audio used in this post; it is herein used for reviewing purposes only. **

Earthly Empires are for Spiritual Whores

I have observed within the ranks of politically aware Christians a longing for the return of the “noble pagan” – the sort of principled men which at times have graced the pages of history in their honorable deeds and not been adversarial toward God’s children.

But it is the church’s own fault that these kinds of men have all but vanished, and she does not see how she is the source of this problem. For when she fornicates with the secular power, she loses favor with both God and men. She weakens herself morally, and she sows the seeds of resentment among the heathen, who already do not trust her. It would be enough to be hated simply because of the indwelling Christ, which is her calling. But instead, by whoring around in matters that are not her calling, she actually helps lay the groundwork for the most bloody empires to rise.

Corruption only works one way: toward greater corruption. The mixture of the holy and the profane is by definition corrupt, and can only ever dillute further. New holiness must arise outside of that cauldron and remain there if God is to reward it. The mixture of divine reality with earthly means always works toward the summoning of the beast, no matter what the initial intention. When evil is left to eat itself and holiness pursued instead, darkness ebbs and flows, yet is by-and-large kept at bay. But when good and evil (mixture) is pursued, nothing is left sacred, and all things fall inevitably into deep darkness.

New light shines in the hearts of those who leave this all behind, the eyes of whom are opened to the heavenly thing; but those who will not abandon their fornication with the world are judged as its citizens.

There is only one nation under God; and she bears not her own name, nor can her true form be perceived by carnal eyes.

Availed of Grace to Know Holiness

We are availed of grace to know holiness.

If God’s grace were merely made available, it would never be availed of, since a natural man cannot submit himself to that law of God, which alone the Spirit empowers (Rom 8); because in Adam he is dead to God, and God to him. The natural man does not possess the love of God’s Life, nor even desires it in truth. Even if the natural man could avail himself of the grace of God, he wouldn’t. Man must be first availed of grace to even desire grace; for those not born of the Holy Spirit recoil from true holiness.

Men want God’s blessings, but not His sufferings; they want to partake in His glory, but not in His humiliation; they want forgiveness, but no accountability: this is not true grace. They suppose that because of Christ’s work, it has become the birthright of every man to obtain His mercy (which would render it no longer mercy), for they concern themselves little the rights of the sovereign God. In this is revealed a very wicked heart which, unless it becomes regenerate, would truly choose hell over heaven if it beheld the One who is perfect in beauty. Holiness is the great torment of the profane; unless they awaken to righteousness from within the heart by the power of He who alone creates out of nothing, Who alone makes light to shine from out of the midst of darkness.

Those who do not even want pursue holiness are not availing themselves of God’s grace; and those not availing themselves of His grace ought to question whether they have even been availed of it. And the true pursuit of holiness has no alterior motive: it is purely the action of worship.

For everyone practicing wickedness hates the Light, and does not come to the Light, that his works may not be exposed. But the one doing the truth comes to the Light, that his works may be revealed, that they exist, having been worked in God.
John 3:20-21

Bloodshed & Fire

History indeed repeats itself; but with every repetition, it gets louder to the hearing ear, and clearer to the seeing eye.

Every tactic which man collectively employs (and re-employs) to “save” himself eventually serves only to reveal his fallenness. We are at the verge of the ugliest part of the cycle repeating itself again; and this time, the methods of the evil rulers and purveyors of wickedness have been more perfected than ever. The final chapter of history will be the culmination of all that has been building up in the darkness for millennia.

The pursuit of ultimate wealth and power has lead the whole world into bottomless debt and utter enslavement to mammon. Enforced degeneracy is currently eating its unnumerable subjects alive by the dictates of its very nature. And in modernity, the mass ethnic-melting-pot societies, falsely imposed as the grand utopian solution to mankind’s woes, will invariably lead to mass-ethnic-cleansing, as those nations with any sense of themselves left will thereby attempt to curb the inescapable consequences of all the decadence – and this was the plan all along. The Devil weakens the nations by the subversion of true authority, but then feigns innocence upon the bloody result. For amidst the ensuing chaos, he can then define with one accusation the spirit of the age, uniting the mind of the world under a single mantra: that Christ and His true flock are to blame.

You can try to intervene by playing their “game” against them, and so be drawn in to partake in the plagues of Babylon; or you can pursue the indestructable Life which is hidden with Christ in God, and He will be enough, and His kingdom will have one more inheritor.

You can compromise and become baptized in the world’s filth, and aquire a taste for the blood of the martyrs; or you can become baptized in the Holy Spirit and drink the Water of Life, and suffer for Christ’s Name.

The Lord has given us Himself to be discovered, known, and obeyed; yet the many among us keep holding on to a wicked world that hates Christ, a world that will end in bloodshed and fire.

Poem – “Invictus Refuted”

A parody in disdain of William Ernest Henley’s famous and Godless poem, “Invictus”:

Into the night that covered me,
Black as the pit which held me whole,
He became sin that He might be
The conqueror of my soul.

From blinding clutch of Satan’s bands,
I heard His voice and cried aloud,
Then saw His blood on my own hands;
His face was marred, His head thorn-crowned.

Beyond the veil, He draws me near;
Through horror He my ransom paid,
That now in me He finds revere
And by His grace makes unafraid.

He leads me through the straitest gate,
He purged of punishments the scroll.
He is the Master of my fate,
He is the Captain of my soul.

Thoughts on Hypocrisy & Repentance

It is the inconsistencies which we most tolerate within ourselves that make us the most hypocritical. These may even seem to be our smallest faults; yet no matter what they are, if we tolerate them the most, they render us more grievous hypocrites than the greatest failings of which we immediately repent.

Wickedness and idolatry will take whatever shape or form that it requires to survive; and subtlety is its greatest weapon.

Repentance is the destroyer of all hypocrisy, and righteousness fills the void left by its absence. Heavy lies the flesh of he who does not repent of every known fault; but free is the man whose slave-master is Christ.

“Come and Die”

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
Luke 9:57-58 (ESV)

Men look for their own sense of purpose; but God wants to take His own beyond this into walking in the lively substance of He who is the very purpose. Your hopes of success or earthly blessing will not get you through the onslaught of the Devil when he with heaven’s approval tears all your hopes and dreams into pieces. And then, poor soul, what will you do? How long will you shake your fist at God? Not even the prospect of the grave shall give you solace thereafter, though you wished it would; for you have dug it far too shallow.

“But though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies.” (Lam 3:32) To be raised up most fully into the heavens, you must pass most fully through the blackness of death itself. The cross’s work is not finished until it finishes you. You must be crucified into the Life which is deeper than a mere sense of your own purpose. You must walk through hell’s onslaught, through the terrors of death itself; holding fast your flame before the cold black stare of Satan’s nothingness. Your sense of purpose is only as good as your ability to keep it; but if you would go to deeper and higher places with God, His depths and heights will demand of you its demise: for the kingdom of God is where men and their own aspirations go to die.

And He said to all, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
Luke 9:23-24 (ESV)

God in Christ brings us into His purpose by bringing us beyond ourselves – if only we will allow His death to be ours in this life daily; so that His very Life might reign in us, and consequently, we in His Life. God Himself must become our only means to His only ends; our only vision and our only Hope beyond hope. If you have another plan, may God shatter it beyond repair! O, let nothing be of any use to us but the keeping of the presence of God with us! It costs absolutely everything else; but there is no other way. Only then are we no longer entrapped in this world by the selfishness of seeking our own things; only then are we sufficiently broken vessels to pour forth the sweet aroma of Christ’s work for the glory of God alone.

Obedience to God as the means of finding our own sense of purpose is idolatry. His ministration will not be mocked even by what men call “ministries.” But obedience to God because He is worthy is its own reward to the humble; for it is the power of God moving within a man beyond that man’s capabilities, and it is the Spirit of God unhindered even by a man’s most seemingly pious desires. It is the legacy of those who have counted all as loss; it is the result of men reaching the end of their own rope, and finally letting go.

There is nothing more embittering than the anguish of defeat and loss without purpose. But there is nothing sweeter to the soul than the continual repentance whose heavenly joy is birthed by God’s own hand through said anguish; which finds strength beyond strength in the admittance of defeat; whose purpose is wrapped up in the mystery of Godliness at the willing loss of all else.

Let this mind be in us, which was also in Christ Jesus.