Bach the numerologist

When we presented Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in the year 2000, I wrote a series of articles for the church newsletter. One of them was titled “Bach the numerologist” and asked whether it was merely coincidence or intentional that Bach wrote music which had numerological significance. For example, the phrase “Lord, is it I” was repeated exactly 11 times in this chorus, representing the eleven apostles, with Judas remaining silent.

There are numerological references in the B-Minor Mass as well. There are nine movements in both the Gloria and Credo (9=3×3 with three the number in the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.) The Sanctus movement is scored for double sopranos, double altos, tenors and basses =  6 parts (there’s that Trinity number again = 3 x 2), perhaps representing the six-winged angel of Isaiah.

If you assign numerical values to letters (A=1, B=2, C=3 and so forth), the word “CREDO” equals 43. Was it just coincidence that Bach composed exactly 43 entries of the melody?

In the “Patrem omnipotentem” movement of the Credo, there are exactly 84 measures, which can be broken down into 7 (a holy number) times 12 (the number of disciples). If you add the number of measures of the “Credo in unum Deum” (45) to the number of measures in this movement (84) you get 129, which is 3 (The Holy Trinity) times 43 (the Credo number)

And yet, the music is so beautiful, it seems outrageous to break it down into only a series of numbers. Why don’t you take this opportunity to purchase your tickets now? Here’s a number for you: 941-2566 which is the LCH church office which you can call during business hours. Or go online at Half of the tickets have been allotted for online purchase, and the other half are saved for walk-ins.

Hey, I just found out that LCH’s phone number has a symbolism too! Add all the numbers in 9 4 1 2 5 6 6 and you get a total of 33! Double Trinity!

About Katherine Crosier

In addition to playing the organ I am interested in documenting life's special moments through journaling, scrapbooking, photography and slideshow production. My family just groans.
This entry was posted in Carl Crosier, J. S. Bach and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Bach the numerologist

  1. Pingback: Just a coincidence? | Another Year of Insanity

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