Anglican Samizdat

February 1, 2009

Bach and the Barbarians

Filed under: music,The fall of the West — David Jenkins @ 4:35 pm
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From Theodore DalrympleAdd an Image

Staying recently in a South Yorkshire town called Rotherham-described in one guidebook as “murky,” an inadequate word for the place-I was interested to read in the local newspaper how the proprietors of some stores are preventing hooligans from gathering outside to intimidate and rob customers. They play Bach over loudspeakers, and this disperses the youths in short order; they flee the way Count Dracula fled before holy water, garlic flowers, and crucifixes. The proprietors had previously tried a high-pitched noise generator whose mosquito-like whine only those younger than 20 could detect. This method, too, proved effective, but the owners abandoned it out of fear that it might damage the youths’ hearing and infringe upon their human rights, leading to claims for compensation.

This is not unlike the routing of the Moabites, Ammonites and  Meunites by Israel. Jehoshaphat sent the choir out in front of the army and the enemy scattered before them. I don’t think it was because the choir – unlike most Anglican choirs –  was singing that badly, but because evil can’t withstand the genuine worship of God.

After talking it over with the people, Jehoshaphat appointed a choir for GOD; dressed in holy robes, they were to march ahead of the troops, singing,

Give thanks to GOD, His love never quits.

As soon as they started shouting and praising, GOD set ambushes against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir as they were attacking Judah, and they all ended up dead. [23] The Ammonites and Moabites mistakenly attacked those from Mount Seir and massacred them. Then, further confused, they went at each other, and all ended up killed. 2 Chr 20:21ff

Bach’s manuscripts were inscribed: “Soli Deo Gloria,” “To God Alone be the Glory”, an idea that is anathema to the barbarian, causing him to flee in horror.



  1. Playing Bach’s works titled “Soli Deo Gloria,” “To God Alone be the Glory” should be considered by the town officialdom as being “Christian” and should be banned for offending those very youths and their rights to be totally secular. Bring on the brown Shirts!

    Comment by gawk — February 1, 2009 @ 11:22 pm

  2. I remember a certain A”c”ofC priest trying to discourage the playing of classical music in his parish and preferring rock-n-roll…

    Comment by Brutus — April 14, 2009 @ 8:15 pm

  3. Oh, don’t get me going on the God-awfulness of “modern worship music”. I am one of those in whom it promotes a heavy-duty yuck factor. Reminds me of the scene in Four Weddings and a Funeral where earnest guitar-strumming folkies are wailing out a simplistic and off-key ditty; the congregation is supposed to feel genuinely moved by the great meaning and artfulness of it all, but the less gullible roll their eyes in disgust. How about we bring on the great choral masterworks, commissioned by and for the Church! Even a nice recording of the latter would be better than the aging wanna-be rock stars on the altar.

    Comment by Ann — August 14, 2009 @ 10:31 am

  4. I remember the great success in Elora where the little Anglican Church started a festival of mostly classical music and put the town on the map. Has “Modern Church Music” (read sixties hippies who never made it music) done that anywhere?

    Comment by gawk — August 14, 2009 @ 8:58 pm

  5. In the interests of full disclosure, I feel I should point out that I – being a 60s hippy – play what some would think of as “Christian rock” in my parish – all done in the spirit of Cranmer: a congregation should have a liturgy in a language they understand.

    I still think that Bach’s music is the pinnacle of Western artistic achievement.

    Comment by David — December 5, 2009 @ 11:25 pm

  6. I take it then you don’t read sing or converse in Latin then?

    Comment by obituary — December 6, 2009 @ 9:25 am

  7. “but because evil can’t withstand the genuine worship of God.”

    Mmmm! My choice is mostly classical and some of the religious music sends me into a contemplative reverie: Bach, Haendel, Hadyn, Paart to name just four out of oh, so many composers.
    The ‘youngsters of today’ don’t know what they are missing.

    But then as an atheist, what do I know? (grin).

    Comment by Alan B — January 19, 2010 @ 5:16 pm

  8. Alan,

    I’m delighted to hear that you enjoy decent music. From my perspective, you are made in the image of God so I am not at all surprised – nor am I surprised that you have a conscience, can distinguish right from wrong and so on.

    Comment by David — January 19, 2010 @ 5:27 pm

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