When I listen to Bach’s cantata Schauet doch und sehet, ob irgend ein Schmerz sei, BWV 46, I think of my mother and our tiny church in Louisville, Georgia. When she would practice the organ in the church choir loft on quiet Saturday afternoons, I would go with her, sliding on my back underneath the pews as she practiced, pulling on the seats from underneath as I made my way to the front of the sanctuary.The music of our tiny church, an Associate Reformed Presbyterian congregation, was far from the gospel laden hymns typical of Baptists in the south or the melody rich hymns in the tradition of Charles Wesley and the Methodists. And yet, our church’s music profoundly resonated with me. I remember looking forward to rising with the rest of the congregation to sing our hymns, once to begin the service, another prefacing the offering, and a third time to close the sermon. And being excited not only to follow the melody of the hymn, but also to match the volume of the choir standing behind the pastor.As I listened over and over again to Schauet doch und sehet, ob irgend ein Schmerz sei, BWV 46, I was returned to the reverent Sunday services of my childhood when I sensed something beyond our everyday reach was being summoned by the church body. Then as now, I wonder at the genuine connection which individuals of deep faith feel with their God and how they manifest this connection in their daily lives. As with the hymns of my childhood, I feel this same summoning in Bach’s voice.

Wick Prichard
Athens, Georgia