J.S. Bach’s Birthday: Sunday, March 21st!

by Director of Music and Organist, Gary Garletts


This Sunday, March 21, is Johann Sebastian Bach’s birthday. The last time Bach’s natal anniversary fell on Sunday was in 2010, when adults, youth, and children of three churches (including APC) gathered at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church to celebrate his 325th anniversary with a brilliant concert of his better-known works (see photo).


This Sunday we will hear four of his compositions, all from the early 1720’s. At the piano I will play the opening movement of his Fifth French Suite. Then the Handbell Choir will join me for an arrangement of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” An excerpt from Cantata 147, most people recognize its counter-melody of lilting triplets (piano part) more readily than the hymn upon which it is based (handbell part).


The Chancel Choir will sing “Salvation unto Us Has Come,” a melody Bach harmonized some 200 years after the associated text was penned by Paulus Speratus. A veritable poetic treatise on the role of faith and works in the Christian life, this hymn has 14 stanzas! But don’t panic—we will sing only three of those.


To finish, I will play the Fugue from Bach’s great Fantasie and Fugue in G minor for organ. While not as famous as Toccata and Fugue in D minor, it is still well-known, challenging to play, and thrilling to hear. I realize not everyone will return to the sanctuary to experience it (after singing hymns outdoors). If you end up listening merely through open windows while visiting with others, please remember you can always review it later via the livestream recording.