In the year 1750 the great singer of God, who had adored Him through his compositions as perhaps no one else had ever done before, lies dying in an unimportant place.
He has lost his eyesight. His children have disgraced his name. He is treated with indifference by Emperor Frederick. Many of his friends have turned against him. His health has broken down.
Is this the reward of the adoration of the Supreme Being? If he had flattered Frederick or the Elector of Saxony, he would have been living as a courtier in comfort, attended by the highest medical skill. Has God deserted him? Does He desert those who have devoted their lives to His praise, adoration and service?
The state of Bach is comparable to that of St. Francis of Assisi in the last years of his life. Love seeks no reward. Life is eternal. When the caterpillar has turned into a butterfly, does it mind the state of chrysalis out of which it is emerging into infinity?
The unthoughtful, who weigh things, experiences and events in the scales of worldly profit and loss, will call Bach a failure. If the lover cared for outer success and grandeur then he would be very superficial. Just as a spirit which evolved from the state of a caterpillar, does not cry over the fate which separated it from the body, so a man of God is happy within himself beyond measure, and it does not matter to him whether he dies unattended in a crematorium or in a palace. He is indifferent to the temporal.
Was Bach repenting his life of adoration of God? Was he sorry for his state of affairs? He died singing the following verses:—
Before Thy throne, my God, I stand.
Myself, my all, are in Thy hand.
Turn to me Thy approving face,
Nor from me now withhold Thy grace.
Grant that my end may worthy be,
And that I wake Thy face to see,
Thyself for evermore to know.
Amen, Amen, God grant it so!