To many (I believe), it is almost indisputable that Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) marks the apogee of the Baroque period (seventeenth to mid-eighteenth centuries). His organ chorale titled “Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein” (When We Are in Profound Distress) (BWV 641) is from the Orgelbüchlein, a collection of his chorale preludes (1712-1717). The organist Daniel Seeger’s 2020 rendering of this piece speaks to me in a way that it warmly comforts my weary soul.
Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein
When we are in profound distress
Und wissen nicht, wo aus noch ein,
And lose our way in helplessness
Und finden weder Hilf noch Rat
Without advice to guide our way,
Ob wir gleich sorgen früh und spat,
Although we worry night and day,
So ist dies unser Trost allein,
Our only comfort in such times,
Dass wir zusammen insgemein
Is that together we may come
Dich anrufen, o treurer Gott,
And cry to you, our faithful God,
Um Rettung aus der Angst und Not.
To save us from our worries’ load.
Although he was a king, sorrow was not foreign to David. His entire life was filled with challenges, sufferings, many sorrows, and pain. What makes him truly extraordinary, however, is that he kept seeking God. He never stopped pursuing God even when he found himself in profound distress. David says in Psalm 63:5-8 (when he was in the Judean desert) (ESV):
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
I am praying for those who are distressed and weary. I hope and pray that Bach’s beautiful chorale and King David’s psalm may bring joy and comfort to those who suffer.