Explaining “S.D.G.”

That’s humility.


This is a letter to Radio Classique in Paris, where an announcer did not understand “S.D.G.”.
There are 2000 works attributed to Bach.  Every one of these works is signed S. D. G.
One of these works is a cantata called, ” Adam must be crucified with Jésus so that New-Man might be born.”
Here, Bach is showing to the world, with no shame, that he understands and lives eternal life.
In the New Jerusalem, where Bach evidently lived, the harmony of the universe must always be maintained. Something that the world can never understand is this law of the universe, because life in the world is not ever affected by this law.
Let me repeat that: the harmony of the universe must always be maintained.  The life of the world is so completely isolated from the universe, out of respect for man, which is the result of love, and…

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About kurtnemes
Writer and Education Professional. Specialties include Ethics, Personal Memoir, Classical music, Tai Chi, Stress Reduction, Meditation, Coping, Classical Music, Aging, Love, Joy, Compassion and Equanimity (& what interests me.)

4 Responses to Explaining “S.D.G.”

  1. XperDunn says:

    This sounds like what Bach himself might have said to explain his S.D.G. (or “Soli Deo Gloria”) signature on his manuscripts. But we know that he had some secular pieces which he did not ‘sign’ this way.

    Martin Luther’s excommunication was in 1521 and Henry VIIIth’s excommunication was in 1533. In 1570 the Pope declared Elizabeth I illegitimate, exhorting English Catholics to assassinate her from within, and France and Spain to attack her from without. The Spanish Armada was defeated in 1588. Puritanism was founded by John Calvin shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I in 1558, and England was in the midst of its Civil War (1642–1651) when George Fox instituted the Quaker sect.

    By the time Bach was born, on March 31st, 1685, in Eisenach, his Europe had been through nearly two centuries of religious-based conflict, in wars both foreign and civil. Being a Catholic in the Protestant countries was as fatal as being a Protestant in the Catholic countries. Even the difference between the various new sects of Protestantism caused deadly antagonisms, prompting some of those sects to relocate to the New World.

    Music was a major issue amongst these warring factions—‘nationalized’ by the Catholic church, their music was only permissible as part of church services. In reaction, some Protestant sects, liked the Puritans and Quakers, eschewed music altogether. The more musically-liberal Calvinism of Bach’s Germany saw the historic breakthrough of Secular music, which would lead to the Classical Era, when music became sponsored by the nobility rather than the church. This would lead to Opera, Chamber music, and Symphonic orchestras.

    But in Bach’s time, we are still on the cusp of this change. He had to be very diplomatic about his few secular Cantatas—they had to maintain the aspect of ‘morality plays’, just to avoid being seen as anti-religious. Even so, the vast majority of his works were for church services—and the addition of his signature “S.D.G.” may have been mere icing on the diplomatic cake, if you will.

    That is not to claim that Bach’s religiosity was a put-on—I’m sure his well-known piety was sincere; and the glory of his music was an audible representation of his faith. But he was also one of the great composers of all human history—his urge to create music, sacred or secular, must have been enormous. With a modern understanding of psychology, it’s not hard to imagine that Bach felt compelled to rationalize his need to create new music in new genres—his faith undoubtedly warring with his creative spirit. Within that context, “S.D.G.” could also be interpreted as “C.Y.A.”

    Liked by 1 person

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