step by step by step
bach by bach by note by note
each placed, nothing missed
Last Sunday found us at the the Grace Coastal Church of Okatie, South Carolina.
There was one of those Church moments when the pianist stopped during an intro to a hymn and announced that her piano was out of tune.
“It’s one of those digital piano’s,” she said, “I know I just have to press a button to reset it … but I don’t know where that button is.”
And she got up and walked across the platform to the old grand piano and the picked up where she had left off.
One of those moments of natural comic relief that make church chuch.
The service was old fashioned to the point that all the lights were on and everyone, and I mean everyone sang.
And in this time of post covid, they even took up an offering by passing things hand to hand.
For an old church veteran like me, an offering meant an offertory.
The musical interlude before the sermon.
For a small Presbyterian low county church, I did not expect much.
For a small Presbyterian low county church, I wasn’t ready for what happened next.
That pianist, who already admitted she couldn’t tune a digital piano, sat down at the keyboard and pulled off a minor miracle by effortlessly pulling notes out of that old grand piano in a charming rendition of Bach’s Arioso from Cantata 156 “Ich steh’mit Fuss in Grabe” (yes I looked the official name up).
She played it slow, so slowly but on the beat.
Each note sounding alone but part of the chain.
The magic of Bach, the progression of the notes, each one, like one step following the next and never a misstep.
Each step following the next in a way that, to me, I have to say HOW and at the same time, HOW COULD IT BE ANYTHING ELSE.
I was sitting in a small, small Presbyterian low county church.
But the music took me far away.
I don’t know.
It’s been so long that I have had opportunity to hear live music.
This was so unexpected.
This was so charming.
I am sure I am making way more of this than anyone else there, or that anyone should, but it was, for a me, the truest moment of prayer and of grace with the gift of these notes, in this arrangement played in this way, that I have had in a long time.
Folks, let me tell you, if God lets the odd moment like this happen, and believe, not really by chance, what can happen when he really puts his mind too it?
So much is given.
Boy, Howdy, but much is going to be expected!
They say Mr. Bach could set back and let these musical progressions pour out of his fingers without a thought.
All I can think of is how?
So I don’t think.
I just let the moment be that moment.
And I thanked God for it.
BTW, with the magic that is the internet, I was able to find a video of the church service and rip the audio of this simple musical moment and you can click here to hear it.
It isn’t a quality recording, but it is great at the same time and you close your eyes and imagine a small sunlight church with morning coming in the windows and nothing else to do for a minute but listen and as they say, know that God is God.
Yes, there is baby crying at the start … live music, what can you say.
2 thoughts on “3.21.2023 – step by step by step”
I listened to the piece. It was beautiful. Thanks for sharing this moment. It resonated with me too.
Thank you for sharing this. I love the haiku and the story behind it. Bach is one of my favorites, and the piece is played with much emotion and executed flawlessly.