Why I Keep Playing

Thumb arthroplasty with ligament reconstruction tendon interposition with the flexor carpi radialis is something you never want to hear, especially if you are a musician. It means I don’t have trapeziums in both of my wrists. You will however, hear about it if your thumbs become so overwhelmed with arthritis you are no long able to use them. About six years ago I began my journey through this procedure with both of my hands; first my left in the spring of 2013 and my right hand at the end of 2015. Both surgeries were full of complications and setbacks. The first required a total of nearly two weeks of hospitalizations and a month of infusion therapy to rid myself of a severe infection. The second has resulted in Dupuytren’s Contracture in a couple of places in the palm of my right hand and a “ligament reconstruction” which is going to need re-reconstructing.

Yet, here I am, here I stand, for I can do no other.

As Paul says in Roman’s 8 “Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

Music is the closest we can come to the groaning’s of Holy Spirit.

When music is married to text both are much more memorable. We can take the lessons and faith with us where ever we go and recall them instantly. The music adding a rich emotional and visceral layer of meaning.

In purely instrumental music, which has no underlying text, we are left with just the groanings. In J S Bach’s instrumental music, the transcendent springs forth with a power and authenticity that even the secular world cannot ignore. There has been an interesting phenomenon occurring with his music in recent years, particularly his dance music of which he wrote hundreds of pieces.

Most recently, performers like Yo Yo Ma has been filling massive concert venues, The Proms in London and the Hollywood Bowl, in Hollywood, for the explicit purpose of listening to over 2 hours of solo cello music; with just Mr. Ma and his chair on a dimly lit stage. And Andras Schiff has been doing complete cycles of Bach’s keyboard suites, 18 of them, dressed in a priest like garb in European cathedrals to great acclaim. The world recognizes a deeply spiritual aspect to even the simplest of Bach’s dance music… his dance music of all things!


Bach would often write SDG Soli Gloria Deo, to the glory of God alone; and INJ In Nomine Jesu, in the Name of Jesus on his manuscripts. How our lives might be utterly transformed if these short phrases became our own motto.

In yet another set of dances Bach wrote for solo violin, in the second set there resides a work of immense musical and emotional complexity, in Chaconne in D minor. It is also one of the longest movements from any of his dance suites. No other work by Bach has so captured the imagination of other composers as this Chaconne. Five or Six have re-worked it for the piano solo and today I would like to play for you Ferruccio Busoni’s concert transcription of this work.

It is a little long, but within its measures we will catch a glimpse of the glory and majesty of God that Bach saw.


Here are my completed Hymnals:

Presbyterian 1955 Hymnbook: http://amzn.to/2zSRdpL

Episcopal 1940 Hymnal: http://amzn.to/2DEOl1H 

Broadman 1940 Hymnal:  http://amzn.to/2C1WuwK

Methodist 1939 Hymnal:  http://amzn.to/2CfJ1Wq

Pilgrim 1935 Hymnal: http://amzn.to/2DDvbJC

Here are my new projects:

Choice Hymns of the Faith 1945 http://amzn.to/2Dx97nA

Now Sings My Soul, New Songs for the Lord by: Linda Bonney Olin:  http://amzn.to/2DQ6gUy

J S Bach Riemenschneider 371 Harmonized Chorales  http://amzn.to/2DSy5f9


Dictionary of Hymnology:  http://amzn.to/2BxPabk