Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Be My Rock, My Light, Forever My Trust

A long time ago, I put this sticky note on the inside of my book of Beethoven sonatas. I came across this prayer (which Beethoven wrote at the end of his life while he was composing his breathtaking mass, Missa Solemnis) sometime during my music studies, and I'm really so moved by it.

This prayer could be interpreted in many ways but knowing what I know about Beethoven, I imagine that these words were scrawled in a moment of despair and agony. Beethoven wasn't an expressly religious man and was in fact by many accounts sort of a brute, but I do believe he had a deep and abiding faith. His music is too heavenly, too inspired and divine, for me to be convinced otherwise.

But nevertheless, this prayer is somewhat of an anomaly. Beethoven didn't often write things like this. I don't think he attended church and he kept the faith he had very private.

So when I read these words that are so powerful and trusting and heartbreaking--I submit myself to all vicissitudes--I think of Beethoven's deafness and the fact that had completely lost all hearing by this point and how it tortured him. And I think of how suffering seems to go hand in hand with creative genius--in Beethoven's case, the kind of creative genius that only shows up maybe one or two times in a generation. He was referred to as "The Master" by his contemporaries but inside I wonder if he felt fragile. The weight of exposing his soul through his art and the obligation he felt to do justice to the music that stirred in him must have been enormous.

That's why this prayer means so much to me and why I put it in a place where I knew I'd stumble upon it regularly. God so often works most powerfully in people who are tortured or who feel like outcasts, people who suffer greatly in this life. Beethoven certainly suffered, he was imperfect and flawed, and he may not have always Believed. But I think his heart made its way to God and there can be no doubt that his music glorifies Him.


  1. That would be moving to think about as you play Beethoven!

  2. Absolutely, and I find Bach so moving because he explicitly dedicated his music to the glory of God. Beethoven's faith is harder to understand and he was less obvious about it, and the mystery is partly what makes this prayer so wonderful, I think!


Your comments bring me joy! I do my best to respond to each one either on the blog or via email (if your email is linked to your comment). Thank you for visiting Something Ivory.

Designed by Jackie's Design Studio