The Last Time

October 14, 2006

I regularly read First Things.   I don’t read all of it.  I look at all of it.  I read bits.  One bit I read in the Aug/Sept 2006 number was Robert Louis Wilken’s moving piece on the late Jaroslav Pelikan.  I’m a fan of Robert Shaw.  (His "Amazing Grace" CD is one of my favorite hymn CD’s.)  I’m an even bigger fan of Bach’s "Passions" (St. Matthew; St. John), and I had recently been re-listening to them, when I ran across this note of a conversation Wilkens had had with Pelikan just this past Spring:

“As we [Wilkens and Pelikan] talked about Bach, he told me a story about the conductor Robert Shaw. On several occasions Shaw had invited Pelikan to give a theological lecture in connection with the performance of a great religious choral work at Carnegie Hall in New York. On the evening Shaw conducted Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, before he lifted his baton to begin the performance, he addressed the audience. He said that for some in the audience this evening, this will be the first time you will hear the St. Matthew Passion; for others, it will be the last time. Then he turned to the orchestra and choir to begin the opening chorus.”


Mortality does have a way of concentrating our attention.