Archives For Gratitude

In a letter, dated December 23, 1955, Barth sets out to (reluctantly) esteem one of his musical heroes for a newspaper. The letter speaks for itself, so there’s no real need for a deep exposition. The only thing that needs qualifying is the concluding statement by Barth, where he speaks figuratively of imagining angels worshiping with Bach, while at work, and then later Mozart, as they gathered together. Barth writes,

‘Mozart’s music is not, in contrast to that of Bach, a message, and not in contrast to that of Beethoven, a personal confession. He does not reveal in his music any doctrine and certainly not himself […]
Mozart does not wish to say anything: he just sings and sounds. Thus he does not force anything on the listener, does not demand that he make any decisions or take any positions; he simply leaves him free. Doubtless the enjoyment he gives begins with our accepting that […]
He thought of death daily, as his works plainly reveal. But he does not dwell on it unduly; he merely lets us discover it. Nor does  he will to proclaim the praise of God. he just does it – precisely in that humility in which he himself is, so to speak, only the instrument with which he allows is to hear what he hears: what surges at him from God’s creation, what rises in him, and must proceed from him […]
Mozart’s sacred music, too, is heard to originate in a region from which vantage point God and the world are certainly not to be judged identical, but which does allow the church and world (these are not to be interchanged) to be recognizable and recognized in their merely relative difference, in their ultimate togetherness: both emanating from God, both going back to God.[i]’

Out of necessity, I’ve redacted some of his letter to fit the 3:22 min instrumental. In doing so, I’ve stuck to Barth’s main theme: gratitude for Mozart. As it is, it’s neat and, I think, communicates well. Barth might not have been a musician, however, it’s clear from the melody and rhythm in his own writing, that he had the ear, heart and mind of one.

Can Karl Barth’s words to Mozart be put to music?

My tentative answer is, yes.


[i] Barth, K. 1956, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Wipf & Stock Publishers (pp.19-23) & (pp.37-40)

Music is my own.

Easter Sunday is an anticipation of Pentecost.

Karl Barth writes of the human response being one of ‘unconditional gratitude…because baptism of the Holy Spirit is the active and actualising grace of God. This is because humanity is now ‘free for decision. A decision that conforms to our liberation’ which has come about in the gift of reorientation handed to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Barth, C.D IV.4.1, pp.33-3).


The Thread of Existence is born of grace

Sometimes the disruption in our lives can ignite creativity.

Sometimes that disruption itself becomes the catalyst for a greater awareness of an indwelling knowledge that allows us to speak down into the abyss and say “all is right with God, but not all is right with us. I hang on because God hangs on to me”.

This thread of existence is born of grace.

This lifeline extends beyond our lifetime, to an eternity already witnessed by millions and blessed by the physical presence of the Christ.


Right now.

Right here.

His Spirit dwells. This giver of life heals, frees, and helps us recall law in the light of grace.

No pleasing words, no acts of goodness, just grace. Unfettered, generously splashed out for us, so that the God who reigns could be with us as much as he justly rules over us.

His unlimited hunger for our success is beyond our limited grasp. Even though it may seem to be within our grasp, all attempts to grasp it fall short.

All appearances of achievement are false.

We cannot grasp hold of that which already has grasped hold of us. Though we try, all attempts to witness it mean we overlook it. All we can do is turn in faith, gratitude and prayer; thanking the one who chooses to exalt that which is fallen to an undeserving place.

From this time of grace we are called to respond.

From this time of grace we are taught to respond.

From this time of grace we who were once lost are found.

In this act of being found we encounter disruption[i], our sin is brought low, our broken heart is raised and our minds renewed.

‘Think on eternity,
and do not mock the time of grace,
for judgement is not far off’[ii].

[i] Karl Barth
[ii] Blumhardt, J.C. (1805-1880), & Zuendel, F. 2011, ‘According to oral tradition, these words were mysteriously painted on shutters of  a young woman’s house, in Germany, during her fight with demonic powers, 1841-1843.The Awakening: One man’s battle with Darkness p.4