I wouldn’t ordinarily write about such a personal experience, but today as I sat in the waiting room of the Kapiolani Women’s Center, I would bet you a million bucks that the other ladies didn’t have a clue as to what was playing as background music. But I the organist did, and the irony of it all was not lost on me as we all waited our turn for our annual mammograms. In fact I was quite surprised that such elegant and sophisticated music would be chosen for “wallpaper music.”
It was Yo Yo Ma, cellist, playing the aria, “Erbarme dich, mein Gott,” from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion!
For many, this alto aria is the absolute highlight of Bach’s monumental work. It describes Peter’s lament after having denied knowing Jesus three times. Here is a translation:
Have mercy, my God, for the sake of my tears! Look here, heart and eyes weep bitterly before You. Have mercy, have mercy!
Can you just imagine hearing this piece in the context of having a mammogram! because I know there is not a single woman alive who looks forward to this painful and demoralizing experience.
Perhaps hearing Bach made it all the more bearable!