Posted by: Billy Marsh | July 28, 2007

Breakpoint and the Wilberforce Forum’s “Must-have music recommendation list”

I know that this list wasn’t compiled by Chuck Colson, but I can’t help but think he had a major hand in putting it together. If you’ve read How Now Shall We Live?, you know that in the last chapter he tries to guide Christians into some areas of the culture that will help them be well, uh . . . cultural. He gives an overview of movies also, but spends some extra time pointing out the qualities of classical music and its Christian roots.

To be honest, and to my shame, I only have one album off of this list. I own Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. I listen to it often and it is especially helpful background music when I’m writing papers late at night. I plan to get John Coltrane’s Blue Train soon. I first heard about this list on one of Colson’s Breakpoint podcasts during the Easter season when he was promoting some of J. S. Bach’s music. Personally, I have decided to get all of these recommended works over time and expand my musical horizon to a more sophisticated and richer level. As many of you know, or will soon find out, I am in the business of putting things in people’s hands. So, here is another recommendation for you via Chuck Colson who just so happens to be a very reliable source for more than just politics. Click here to go to the Breakpoint site for more information.

Mass in B Minor; St. John Passion; Easter Oratorio; Ascension Oratorio | J. S. Bach
Like the work of Shakespeare or Einstein, the music of Bach is more than a cornerstone of Western civilization—it’s a glimpse of how truly amazing the human mind and spirit can be. If you want to understand why, this five-CD boxed set, well-performed and well-recorded, is available at Amazon’s Marketplace for as little as $15, a ridiculously small price to insure your immortal soul. Buy it now.

Violin Concertos | J. S. Bach
For most of my life, I’ve regarded the allegro of the E Major concerto as the national anthem of heaven.

Passio | Arvo Pärt
One of the three so-called “Holy Minimalists,” Part’s setting of St. John’s Passion is the one CD that is always in my CD changer. I have listened to it literally hundreds of times. Part’s “tintinnabuli,” his bell-like harmonies, never fail to pierce my soul, no matter how calloused it may have become.

Berliner Messe (Berlin Mass) | Arvo Pärt
If track six, “Credo,” doesn’t you move you to tears, check your pulse and call 9-1-1. You’re dead. Listen for the pause after “passus et sepultus est” (suffered, died, and buried), followed by “et resurrexit tertia die.” Even if you don’t know a lick of Latin, you’ll know what happened just from listening.

Beethoven Symphonies 1-9
Read the reviews. Another absurd bargain. Great performances for less than you spend . . . on a lot of things. Do I have to explain the importance of Beethoven?

The Protecting Veil | John Tavener
Another one of the “Holy Minimalists.” If Pärt’s music pierces my soul, Tavener’s—especially as performed by Yo-Yo Ma—is like staring into blinding light. I mean that in a good way.

Koyaanisqatsi | Philip Glass
Glass isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but he sure is mine. You’ll either find this music mesmerizing, as I do, or sleep-inducing. (One critic summed up Glass’s score for Martin Scorcese’s film Kundun as “you are getting sleepy” for orchestra.) Glass wrote this music for the 1983 film by the same name. (It’s a made-up Hopi word meaning “live out of balance” or “crazy life.”)

Kind of Blue | Miles Davis
I’ll just copy Amazon’s summary: “This is the one jazz record owned by people who don’t listen to jazz, and with good reason. The band itself is extraordinary (proof of Miles Davis’s masterful casting skills, if not of God’s existence), listing John Coltrane and Julian “Cannonball” Adderley on saxophones, Bill Evans (or, on “Freddie Freeloader,” Wynton Kelly) on piano, and the crack rhythm unit of Paul Chambers on bass and Jimmy Cobb on drums . . . In Davis’s men’s hands it was a weightless music, but one that refused to fade into the background. In retrospect every note seems perfect, and each piece moves inexorably towards its destiny.” Oh no. It does prove God’s existence.

Blue Train | John Coltrane
Once again, Amazon: “Blue Train is one of those ineffable sound recordings that actually seems to capture a moment of perfect artistry.” There are two framed posters in my living room, each flanking my music system: “Kind of Blue” and “Blue Train.”

Compiled by BreakPoint senior writer and Wilberforce Forum fellow Roberto Rivera.



  1. Hello

    What do you think about this? When it happens?

  2. Hi

    What do you think about this? When it happens?

  3. I’m not sure if this is spam or not, if it isn’t, I’m not sure exactly what you are asking. please clarify.

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