Harrell Beck

The Wisdom of Harrell Beck

One Foot in the Grave


I went to a wedding and the big question was, “Is the bride coming?” We were twenty-five minutes into the service and she hadn’t shown. That’s one of the ways in which they keep the clergy twingeing and alive!  I peeked across Max Miller, the organist, to see whether the bride’s mother was on the aisle (that will often be a barometer if anything is going to happen) and my eye fell on the prelude. It was entitled in German, “Ich steh' mit einem Fuß im Grabe” Which being translated means, “I stand with one foot in the grave!”  It bothered me greatly since I knew the groom was an organist and had chosen the prelude. Underneath in fine print was, “A Cantata in Praise of Jesus Christ.” I hardly had time for the wedding, I had to get home to Groves Dictionary to see what was up -- and I learned something. On a Saturday afternoon, getting ready to face a crowd like you, Johann Sebastian Bach, wandered down into the local Wine Stube (which is Lutheran for “coffee house”). There he heard a tune, “Fuß im Grabe,” which set his foot to tapping. He went home and helped Mrs. Bach put eighteen kids to bed. (You thought you had it rough – eighteen kids and a cantata every week!) After all the kids were asleep he would go over to the choir loft alone (church law forbade him and Mrs. Bach to be there unaccompanied after dark. I haven’t the faintest idea what more could have happened!) But, wouldn’t you had loved to have been there when Johann Sebastian Bach turned “One foot in the Grave” into “A Cantata in Praise of Jesus Christ?”

The Heart of Biblical Faith March 13, 1986

Graphic Credit: www.mvhafner.com