Can Classical Music Be Christian?

Going through a time of personal, private, and close loss these past months, I slowed greatly on Bible reading but found a beautiful place in my spare time in the evenings after the kids go to bed finding beautiful, sacred musical pieces; some old, some new, many sacred as well as some that are not, yet they are just breathtakingly beautiful. I look up the lyrics and translation from Latin of some of my favorites and found many to be verses of Scripture. I want to share some here on my journey and will probably continue to do so on this page. Though I am ignorant in Classical music, I think we have forgotten a lot of what’s behind and only know much from Charles Wesley and beyond.

I bought a keyboard again (I had one ten years ago that the kids broke) and have relearned how to play again (very beginner) using Alfreds. I enjoy playing during our break during the day after we home school. I’m hoping a few of the kids will take a serious interest as well. I’m learning how to play “The Lamb” by Tavener right now on the side and still learning where the notes are.

If you are going through a hard time right now, what are you listening to? We should be listening to music that resonates with our soul during our trial. Nothing too jumpy or happy but something reflective, deep and beautiful that brings us to quietness and prayer.

As one that taketh off a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon soda, So is he that singeth songs to a heavy heart.

Proverbs 25:20


In my journey and light study regarding classical music, I have come across the Requiem, originated by Mozart. The Requiem is set to invoke remembrance to those who have just departed and hope to those left behind. The Requiem known as part of Catholic worship, is not a part of protestant Christian worship due to their prayers to the deceased. However, there is a German Requiem that is different as described below:

“Although the Requiem Mass in the Roman Catholic liturgy begins with prayers for the dead (“Grant them eternal rest, O Lord”), A German Requiem focuses on the living, beginning with the text “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” from the Beatitudes.”

“A German Requiem is sacred but non-liturgical, and unlike a long tradition of the Latin RequiemA German Requiem, as its title states, is a Requiem in the German language.  Brahms’s mother died in February 1865, a loss that caused him much grief and may well have inspired Ein deutsches Requiem.”

The German Requiem



1. Selig sind, die da Leid tragen,
denn sie sollen getröstet werden.
Die mit Tränen säen,
werden mit Freuden ernten.
Sie gehen hin und weinen
und tragen edlen Samen,
und kommen mit Freuden
und bringen ihre Garben
Blessed are they that mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
They who sow in tears,
shall reap in joy.
Go forth and cry,
bearing precious seed,
and come with joy
bearing their sheaves
2. Denn alles Fleisch ist wie Gras
und alle Herrlichkeit des Menschen
wie des Grases Blumen.
Das Gras ist verdorret
und die Blume abgefallen.So seid nun geduldig, lieben Brüder,
bis auf die Zukunft des Herrn.
Siehe, ein Ackermann wartet
auf die köstliche Frucht der Erde
und ist geduldig darüber, bis er empfahe
den Morgenregen und Abendregen.Aber des Herrn Wort bleibet in Ewigkeit.Die Erlöseten des Herrn werden wieder kommen,
und gen Zion kommen mit Jauchzen;
ewige Freude wird über ihrem Haupte sein;
Freude und Wonne werden sie ergreifen
und Schmerz und Seufzen wird weg müssen
For all flesh is as grass,
and the glory of man
like flowers.
The grass withers
and the flower falls.Therefore be patient, dear brothers,
for the coming of the Lord.
Behold, the husbandman waits
for the delicious fruits of the earth
and is patient for it, until he receives
the morning rain and evening rain.But the word of the Lord endures for eternity.The redeemed of the Lord will come again,
and come to Zion with a shout;
eternal joy shall be upon her head;
They shall take joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing must depart
3. Herr, lehre doch mich,
daß ein Ende mit mir haben muß,
und mein Leben ein Ziel hat,
und ich davon muß.Siehe, meine Tage sind
einer Hand breit vor dir,
und mein Leben ist wie nichts vor dir.
Ach wie gar nichts sind alle Menschen,
die doch so sicher leben.Sie gehen daher wie ein Schemen,
und machen ihnen viel vergebliche Unruhe;
sie sammeln und wissen nicht
wer es kriegen wird.
Nun Herr, wess soll ich mich trösten?
Ich hoffe auf dich.Der Gerechten Seelen sind in Gottes Hand
und keine Qual rühret sie an
Lord, teach me
That I must have an end,
And my life has a purpose,
and I must accept this.Behold, my days are
as a handbreadth before Thee,
and my life is as nothing before Thee.
Alas, as nothing are all men,
but so sure the living.They are therefore like a shadow,
and go about vainly in disquiet;
they collect riches, and do not know
who will receive them.
Now, Lord, how can I console myself?
My hope is in Thee.The righteous souls are in God’s hand
and no torment shall stir them
4.Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen,
Herr Zebaoth!
Meine Seele verlanget und sehnet sich
nach den Vorhöfen des Herrn;
mein Leib und Seele freuen sich
in dem lebendigen Gott.Wohl denen, die in deinem Hause wohnen,
die loben dich immerdar
How lovely are thy dwelling places,
O Lord of Hosts!
My soul requires and yearns for
the courts of the Lord;
My body and soul rejoice
in the living God.Blessed are they that dwell in thy house;
they praise you forever
5. Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit;
aber ich will euch wieder sehen
und euer Herz soll sich freuen
und eure Freude soll niemand von euch nehmen.Sehet mich an:
Ich habe eine kleine Zeit Mühe und Arbeit gehabt
und habe großen Trost funden.Ich will euch trösten,
wie Einen seine Mutter tröstet
You now have sorrow;
but I shall see you again
and your heart shall rejoice
and your joy no one shall take from you.Behold me:
I have had for a little time toil and torment,
and now have found great consolation.I will console you,
as one is consoled by his mother
6. Denn wir haben hie keine bleibende Statt,
sondern die zukünftige suchen wir.Siehe, ich sage euch ein Geheimnis:
Wir werden nicht alle entschlafen,
wir werden aber alle verwandelt werden;
und dasselbige plötzlich, in einem Augenblick,
zu der Zeit der letzten Posaune.
Denn es wird die Posaune schallen,
und die Toten werden auferstehen unverweslich,
und wir werden verwandelt werden.
Dann wird erfüllet werden
das Wort, das geschrieben steht:
Der Tod ist verschlungen in den Sieg.
Tod, wo ist dein Stachel?
Hölle, wo ist dein Sieg?Herr, du bist würdig zu nehmen
Preis und Ehre und Kraft,
denn du hast alle Dinge geschaffen,
und durch deinen Willen haben sie
das Wesen und sind geschaffen
For we have here no continuing city,
but we seek the future.Behold, I show you a mystery:
We shall not all sleep,
but we all shall be changed
and suddenly, in a moment,
at the sound of the last trombone.
For the trombone shall sound,
and the dead shall be raised incorruptible,
and we shall be changed.
Then shall be fulfilled
The word that is written:
Death is swallowed up in victory.
O Death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?Lord, Thou art worthy to receive all
praise, honor, and glory,
for Thou hast created all things,
and through Thy will
they have been and are created
7. Selig sind die Toten,
die in dem Herrn sterben,
von nun anJa der Geist spricht,
daß sie ruhen von ihrer Arbeit;
denn ihre Werke folgen ihnen nach
Blessed are the dead
that die in the Lord
from henceforthYea, saith the spirit,
that they rest from their labors,
and their works shall follow them

Erbarme dich, mein, Gott – Bach

(Have Mercy Lord my God for the Sake of my Tears)


Have mercy, my God,
for the sake of my tears!
See here, before you
heart and eyes weep bitterly.
Have mercy, my God.

“This week we’ll explore music inspired by Good Friday and Easter, both sacred and secular. We’ll start in one of the most sublime and powerful corners of J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion: the alto aria, Erbarme dich, mein Gott (“Have mercy Lord, My God, for the sake of my tears”). In the drama, this aria reflects Peter’s solitary heartache in the garden after he denies knowing Jesus three times.”


St Matthew’s Passion

I’ve been completely ignorant to Classical Music having anything to do with God. I have heard of St Matthew’s Passion before, but never listened to it let alone read that the entire piece is comprised of Matthew 26 – 27.  See the lyrics here as it’s 17 pages long!

We listened to this last Sunday throughout the morning and talked about Christ. This is supposedly the best version out there:

Just listen to the first few minutes and read along in the text. It’s beautiful.


Prayer of St Gregory

Just a beautifully, majestic sounding piece…




St. Olaf Choir – Even When He is Silent

“Even when He is silent” was commissioned by the St. Olaf Festival (Olavsfestdagene in Trondheim, Norway. The SATB version was premiered by the Nidaros Cathedral Boys’ Choir and conductor Bjørn Moe on November 26, 2011 in Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim.

“​This is a work about hope in the darkest time of life. The text was found on a wall at a concentration camp after World War 2 and was written by a prisoner. Even if your freedom and the people you love is taken away from you, no one can take your faith or hope away from you.”


I believe in the sun, even when it’s not shining.

I believe in love, even when I feel it not.

I believe in God, even when He is silent.


Lux Aurumque





Composer: Lotti, Antonio (ca.1667 — 5 January 1740)


Crucifixus etiam pro nobis; sub Pontio Pilato passus et sepultus est.


He was crucified also for us, under Pontius Pilate he suffered and was buried.



When David Heard


I found and copied this description below. Take heart in listening to this if you are one of my friends who have lost a son or children.  

“When David Heard” is a beautiful and agonizing musical representation of David’s pain and bereavement upon hearing about the killing of his son, Absalom.

Text is from II Samuel 18:33

Originally composed by Thomas Tomkins (1572-1656)


When David heard that Absalom was slain, he went up into his chamber over the gate and wept, and thus he said, “My son, my son, O Absalom my son, would God I had died for thee! O Absalom, my son, my son!”

When David Heard was premiered by the BYU Singers in March of 1999 and was recorded in the Museum of Art on the BYU Campus. It appears on the Singer’s CD: Eric Whitacre: The Complete A Cappella Works, 1991-2001. Commissioned for the Singers by the Barlow Endowment for the Arts, Eric was partly inspired by news that the choir director’s 19 year old son was killed in a car accident. Eric wrote: “Setting this text was such a lonely experience…I wrote maybe 200 pages of sketches, trying to find the perfect balance between sound and silence…and by the time I finished a year later I was profoundly changed.” When David Heard is dedicated “with love and silence” to the choir’s conductor, Dr. Ronald Staheli.”



Miserere Mei


Miserere mei Deus is a setting from Psalm 51.


‘Miserere mei, Deus’ English Translation

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy.
According unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies remove my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquities, and cleanse me from my sin.

I knowingly confess my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
Against Thee only have I sinned, and done evil before Thee: that they may be justified in Thy sayings, and might they overcome when I am judged.
But behold, I was formed in iniquity: and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, Thou desires truth in my inner most being: and shalt make me to understand wisdom secretly.
Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, make me whiter than snow.
Open my ears and make me hear of joy and gladness: and my bones that have been humbled shall rejoice.
Turn away Thy face from my sins: and remember not all my misdeeds.
Create in me a clean heart, O God: and make anew a righteous spirit within my body.
Do not cast me away from Thy presence: and take not Thy holy spirit from me.

Restore unto me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
I will teach those that are unjust Thy ways: and sinners shall be converted unto Thee.
Deliver me from blood, O God, the God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing of Thy righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips: and my mouth shall spring forth Thy praise.
For Thou desires no sacrifice, where others would: with burnt offerings Thou wilt not be delighted.
Sacrifices of God are broken spirits: dejected and contrite hearts, O God, Thou wilt not despise.
Deal favorably, O Lord, in Thy good pleasure unto Zion: build Thou the walls of Jerusalem.
Then shalt Thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with small and large burnt offerings: then shall they lay calves upon your altar.






Latin English
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Holy, Holy, Holy,
Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Lord God of Hosts.
Hosanna in excelsis. Hosanna in the highest.
Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua. Full are heaven and earth of glory thy.
Hosanna in excelsis. Hosanna in the highest.




… and now a beautiful piece by Samuel Barber

Adagio for Strings



…and a terribly romantic one by Gustav Mahler:

Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor: IV. Adagietto

O Magnum Mysterium

Latin English
FirstPart O magnum mysterium et admirabile sacramentumut animalia viderent Dominum natum

iacentem in praesepio.

Natum vidimus et chorus angelorum

collaudantes Dominum. Alleluia.

O great mystery and wonderful sacrament,that beasts should see the new-born Lord

lying in a manger.

The new-born we have seen and a chorus

of angels praising God. Alleluia.

SecondPart Quem vidistis pastores?Dicite, annunciate nobis quis apparuit?

natum vidimus et chorus angelorum

collaudantes Dominum. Alleluia.

Whom have you seen, shepherds?Speak, tell us who has appeared?

The newborn we have seen and a chorus

of angels praising God. Alleluia.



Spiegel im Spiegel 



Rachmaninov Vespers – Praise the Lord

USSR Ministry of Culture Chamber Choir Conductor: Valeri Polyansky

Recording 1986 Smolensk, Dormition of the Theotokos Cathedral

Beautiful voice – Russian mezzo-soprano Irina Arkhipova (1925-2010)


English Translation from Psalm 104
Bless the Lord, O my soul, blessed art thou, O
O Lord my God, thou art very great.
Thou art clothed with honour and majesty.
Blessed art thou, O Lord.
The waters stand upon the mountains.
Marvellous are thy works, O Lord.
In wisdom hast thou made all things.
Glory to thee, O Lord, who hast created all.

Thomas Tallis – If Ye Love Me


Gustav Mahler Urlicht



The female version of Urlicht by Janet Baker (1933 – ).


Eric Satie – Gnossiennes 1-6

Composer: Éric Alfred Leslie Satie (French: [eʁik sati]; 17 May 1866 – 1 July 1925)

Pianist: Klára Körmendi

Album: Piano Works (Selection) Year:1989


Mother and Child – John Tavener


Gustav Mahler – Symphony No. 5

Conductor: Lorin Maazel:  He was only 7 years old when he was invited by Arturo Toscanini to conduct the NBC Symphony.




Alleluia – Eric Whitacre



Composer:  Karl Jenkins

Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis


Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest



Come Sweet Death – J.S. Bach


Composed by Bach in 1736


Come, sweet death, come, blessed rest! Come lead me to peace for I am weary of the world, O come! I wait for you, come soon and lead me, close my eyes. Come, blessed rest! 

Come, sweet death, come blessed rest! It is better in heaven, for there is all pleasure greater, therefore I am at all times prepared to say “Farewell,”. I close my eyes. Come, blessed rest!

Come, sweet death, come blessed rest! O world, you torture chamber, oh! Stay with your lamentations in this world of sorrow, it is heaven that I desire, death shall bring me there. Come, blessed rest!

Come, sweet death, come blessed rest! Oh, that I were but already there among the hosts of angels, out of this black world into the blue, starry firmament, up to heaven. O blessed rest!

Come, sweet death, come blessed rest! I will now see Jesus and stand among the angels. It is henceforth completed, so, world, good night, my eyes are already closed. Come, blessed rest.


Below is the best description I’ve found written about this song from piddflicks on Youtube:

“Komm, süßer Tod, komm selge Ruh (Come, Sweet Death, Come Blessed Rest) is originally a song that was written for solo voice and basso continuo in the 69 Sacred Songs and Arias that the great Johann Sebastian Bach contributed to Georg Christian Schemelli’s Musicalisches Gesangbuch (BWV 478), 1736.

The music, at first sombre but then ecstatically moving, expresses the longing for the joy and light of the Kingdom of Heaven in the presence of Jesus and all the angels.

Come, sweet death, come blessed rest! I will now see Jesus and stand among the angels. It is henceforth completed, so, world, good night, my eyes are already closed. Come, blessed rest.

It is important to distinguish between a desire for death simply to escape suffering and a desire to die in order to live forever in the light and presence of God. Bach’s sentiments are not suicidal. Rather, they express the Christian belief that Death is not an end in itself but a portal to the reality and promise of eternal life.



Ola Gjeilo – Northern Lights

Thou art beautiful, O my love,
sweet and comely as Jerusalem,
terrible as an army set in array.
Turn away thy eyes from me,
for they have made me flee away.
Common Church Music Today;  Top Christian Hits 2018 
Okay, so I’m going off course just this once. I just had to look to today’s top Christian music as I know it is a reflection on the ill health of the church today. This is what I found… Wow, do they really listen to this and think they are worshipping God? I think I find myself in a bar/dance club with 19 – 23 year olds’  boppin’ all around.   : )    Ha ha! This is just too much!


Last night put the heavy on me

Woke up and I’m feeling lonely
This world gotta a way of showing me (showing me)
Some days it’ll lift you up
Some days it’ll call your bluff
Man, most of my days I ain’t got enough
And all I know
Is You’re my only hope
When I’m up when I’m down (uh, huh)
When the wolves come around (tell me)
When my feet hit the ground
I just need, I just need You
On my darkest days (uh, huh)
When I’m losing faith (tell me)
No, it ain’t gon’ change
I just need, I just need You
Lord, I need You
Yeah, I just need You
Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me
Thy rod and thy staff
They comfort me when I’m beat down, broken
Hold my heart when it’s split right wide open
Turn these