... in listening to the radio

Published on 18 Jan 2018
Simeon holding the Christ-child in a painting by Rembrandt

It  had been a long day and I decided to try what the radio had to offer by way of distraction.  Radio 4 has a programme called soul music and the piece in question was a Bach cantata called ‘Ich habe genug’.  This is based on the song of Simeon.

  In the Bach version it starts ‘I have enough’ and ends ‘I rejoice in my death’.  This is Simeon holding a new born baby.  He knows that this scrap of humanity cradled in his arms brings salvation for all humanity.  The music is beautiful, but also immensely stable and supportive.  We hear from a woman whose baby lived only two hours.  She describes how she stomped through the woods punching the trees in her grief while listening to this cantata playing through her Walkman.  We need these phrases, this music, to remind us that salvation is real even in the most terrible circumstances.