J. S. Bach had an unwavering assurance of God's providence in his life. The depth of his trust and faith the Lord is clearly evident in his compositions. To Bach all music, sacred and secular, was for the glory of God. He would agree with Martin Luther who wrote, "Music's only purpose should be for the glory of God and the recreation of the human spirit."
At the beginning of his manuscripts Bach would write I.N.J (In Nomine Jesu-"In the name of Jesus") or J.J. (Jesu Juva-"Jesus Help Me"). He would then inscribe SDG (Soli Deo Gloria-"To God alone, be the glory) on the last page.
Throughout his life Bach bore the burden of much grief and sadness. At the age of ten he was an orphan, his first wife died leaving him with four young children and ten of his children died in infancy. He struggled with church leadership and town counsels, and at times could be a man with quite a temper. However, Bach learned, as all of God's children must, to bear his cross willingly. He learned to depend completely upon the Lord for grace and blessing in his life.
The ever ingenious Bach created his own personal seal, which was used as early as 1722.
It is made up of a crown that sits above his intertwined initials. His initials are also mirrored backwards, signifying that Bach had turned from his sins to the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Also to be seen in the monogram is the Greek symbol χ for the cross. The cross is intertwined in his initials signifying Bach as a crossbearer. "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." (Mathew 16:24)
The crown is made of twelve precious stones (Revelation 12:1) grouped as seven (the number of completion). The stones are set in a crest of five, the number of Christ's passion.
What an example Bach is to all of us as we learn to place our trust in Christ-not only for our salvation, but for every aspect of our daily lives! Bach, a man with perhaps the greatest musical gifts in history, gave God the glory for all that he did. Bach's true greatness was not in his vast musical talent, but in his complete reliance upon God. Soli Deo Gloria for such a man as Johann Sebastian Bach!
Source: Riemenschneider Bach Institute, published in the BACH Journal 28:1-2 (Spring-Summer/Fall-Winter 1997). Use with permision of Timothy Smith.