For a few years now, Cal Stapert and I have been threatening to plan a worship service using only the music of J. S. Bach. After all, if you can’t do something like this at COS, where can you do it? The congregation’s musical tastes tends toward the classical end of the spectrum, we have a bunch of talented instrumentalists and singers who can actually pull off Bach’s intricate writing, and we’ve got Cal–a man who knows his Bach.

We decided that Reformation Day would be the best day for such a Lutheran-leaning event. The centerpiece of the service was Bach’s Cantata 79: Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild, a Reformation cantata. From there we fleshed out the service with a number of Bach’s hymn harmonizations and some elements drawn from Lutheran liturgy. It was an immensely satisfying service. Here are some excerpts:

Bach Cantata 79, movt 1: overture

The Heavens Declare God’s Glory

All Glory Be to God on High

Psalm 122: I Was Glad (Jesus Bleibet Meine Freude)

Bach Cantata 79, movt 3: Nun danket alle Gott/Now Thank We All Our God

Our Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth

Bach Cantata 79, movt 2: Gott ist unsre Sonn und Schild

O Sacred Head Now Wounded

Jesus, Priceless Treasure

Wake, Awake/Zion Hears the Watchmen Singing

Bach Cantata 79, movt 6: Erhalt uns in der Wahrheit