The wiry conductor in black tie slowly lowered his arms. It was over. Ensuing moments of silence clamored for more. The audience, ambivalent over its conclusion, pulled themselves to their feet and clapped, long and hard: excitement mounted, bravos voiced, feet stomped. More bows from the conductor, from the four principals, from the chorus, from the orchestra began to assuage the ache of our having to let them go.

It was indeed over, but not in our hearts imprinted by the ineffable.

The grandeur of Bach’s Mass in B Minor, performed by the Bach Society of St. Louis in the First Presbyterian Church in Kirkwood, Missouri, still enraptures audiences around the world since its composition in 1749. Unlike Bach’s other sacred pieces created for congregations assembled at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany, his Mass was composed over a period of thirty-five years. Its five parts—the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Credo, the Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei—were illumined by his passion for God. A life-long student of Martin Luther and the three-volume translation of the bible, filled with his annotations, Bach was essentially a man of prayer.




It was the same passion that inflamed our hearts as we moved toward the parking lot and home. As the archivist Otto Bettmann wrote, “Bach’s music sets in order what life cannot.” –even planes blown out of the sky.