The weekend of Good Friday and Easter is a time for meditation on our Lord's death and resurrection. For me, one of the highlights of the season is tuning in to the classical radio stations to hear the great musical masterpieces of the season: The Easter portion of Handel's Messiah, with its well-known "Hallelujah Chorus," or Bach's St. Matthew Passion. If Christians aren't vigilant, however, some day we may not be able to tune in to these great classics over the air. Listen to the story of Seth Williamson, a classical-music programmer at a public radio station. In a Washington Times op-ed piece, Williamson writes about the last major Christian holiday: Christmas. Williamson selected several pieces with religious themes suitable for the season, along with the classic Christmas carols. But one day he received a cranky postcard saying, "This music is unsuitable for a radio station that takes tax money." The postcard was signed, "Advocate of Diversity." Notice the irony here: Someone claiming to be in favor of diversity wanted to ban an entire category of music from stations that accept government funding. Nor was this the first time Williamson had received complaints. A university professor once called to object to hearing "The Hymn of Jesus," a beautiful choral work by Gustav Holst. "It's inappropriate," the professor complained. "Why?" Williamson asked. "Because it's too—too Christian!" But if the Music Police set out to censor all music containing Christian references, Williamson notes, they'll discover an inconvenient fact: A large number of the greatest musical works of Western civilization were composed to praise God. There's Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms and Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, a powerful rendition of the Latin mass. Brahms's German Requiem is a choral meditation based on texts from the Bible. Faure's Requiem is an ethereal rendition of the Latin liturgy. Bach signed virtually all his works "Sola Deo Gloria": "To God Alone Be the Glory." Under the politically correct definition of diversity, these pieces would all be off limits for public radio. As Christians we ought to be diligent in protecting a genuine diversity that welcomes our religious traditions. But even more important, we need to immerse ourselves in that tradition. Historians tell us that when Bach was composing the sublime St. Matthew Passion, which pictures the suffering and death of our Savior, he was so deeply moved that he sat at his desk with tears rolling down his cheeks. The work is punctuated with devotional arias, where Bach pours out his intense sorrow and gratitude for Christ's suffering. Why not get a recording of the St. Matthew Passion and let it lead you into deeper personal worship on Good Friday weekend? Learn to love the great classical masterpieces that express our faith with majesty and beauty.


Chuck Colson



  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary