Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

A New Year Thought – Bach on Peace

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-12-31

I confuse many with the combination of my deep distaste for Christian theology, with my love of one of its most profound products: Bach’s B Minor Mass (BWV232), while insisting the words are important.

In today’s world, it is worth drawing attention to the "Et in terra pax" (And on Earth, Peace), which starts as expected, quietly and calmly, but swells with each repetition of the phrase into an exhuberant display of fireworks.

It seems as if Bach’s idea of Peace was not merely the end of a struggle, a time for sheep to safely graze, but once realized, to be the precondition of an even greater, although joyous struggle, a concerted effort to create.

While it says to nations that military action is not the only road to glory, an important statement, it poses a greater challenge to pacifists:  if and when we ever achieve peace, what will we do with it?  What can we create that is worthy of us?  This goes to the heart of what it means to be a civilization.

Happy Gregorian New Year to you all!  Remember to celebrate the other forthcoming New Years as well. (I like the Chinese one myself – yum! yum!)


  • I own quite a few recordings of BWV232, and have seen the MSO do it with a full orchestra and 60-piece choir a few years back – but John Eliot Gardiner’s version is by far my favorite.
  • A freely available set of mp3’s (not a lively as the Gardiner, you’ll just have to imagine it played a bit faster) is available here. The "Et In Terra Pax" is available here
  • For a little while, my midi-re-rendering of part of BWV593 is here (It needs a system with decent bass). Enjoy.


One Response to “A New Year Thought – Bach on Peace”

  1. […] "A New Year Thought: Bach On Peace" (2007-12-31) discusses the “Et in terra pax” from brilliant BWV232 Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Late-night study musicBach’s Prelude No.1Thoughts on BachShow them to me […]

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