Date of Graduation

Spring 2009


Master of Arts in Religious Studies


Religious Studies

Committee Chair

Austra Reinis


J.S. Bach, St. Matthew Passion, Luther, justification, Passion meditation

Subject Categories



Religious themes are common in Johann Sebastian Bach's prolific work. Indeed, they have been well documented and analyzed in literature in the past, specifically in Rosalie Schellhous's "Form and Spirituality in Bach's St. Matthew Passion" and Eric Chafe's "J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion: Aspects of Planning, Structure, and Chronology." In this study I examine the religious themes in a small section of the St. Matthew Passion. I focus on the progression of two themes evidenced in the writings of Martin Luther: justification by faith and meditation on Christ's Passion. I seek to uncover evidence of Bach's inspiration by Martin Luther's writings, The Freedom of a Christian Man and Meditation on Christ's Passion. I analyze the progression of these themes and the emotions associated with them as they evolve through the succession of vocal selections. I conclude that the St. Matthew Passion was inspired by the writings of Martin Luther and his religious themes of justification by faith and meditation on Christ's Passion. I demonstrate that Bach reinforced emotions by utilizing various compositional techniques such as modulation of keys and rhythms.


© Kimberly Kay Clark

Campus Only