Almost Persuaded?

On Woolf, on Fry, but mostly on Bach...

Huw Williams | 15:06, Wednesday 30 January 2013 | Turin, Italy

According to Virginia Woolf, Roger Fry once said "Bach almost persuades me to be a Christian." I've been trying (unsuccessfully) to find the context of that comment, but whatever it was, it is a fascinating statement.

I wonder why Fry felt this way. Was it the staggering beauty of Bach's music in general which impressed him so much, or the incomparable marriage of music to text in his prolific output of church music that touched Fry so deeply? It is certainly notable how Bach, perhaps more than any other composer of church music, seems to affect so many listeners of all kinds of persuasion when it comes to matters of faith. For most listeners there seems to be a direct and potent link between Bach's faith and his output.

So perhaps Roger Fry takes his seat alongside King Agrippa (Acts 26) and many others who are "almost persuaded" to become followers of Christ by another of Christ's disciples. We may know such people ourselves and I trust that we pray often that the Spirit would do what we cannot do in their hearts.

But it makes me wonder about our work and what we do, and it makes me think of the wonderful legacy Bach left behind. And it makes me wonder what in our lives "almost persuades" those who do not know Christ, to become his followers in turn.

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