The first complete performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis was held in St. Petersburg on this day in 1824. Beethoven considered this work to be his most accomplished composition. During the writing of this monumental work, he wrote in his notebooks: “God above all things! For it is an eternal providence which directs omnisciently the good and evil fortunes of human men…Tranquilly will I submit myself to all vicissitudes and place my safe confidence in Thine unalterable goodness. O God! Be my rock, my life, forever my trust.”
Unfortunately, the Missa Solemnis is less an act of humility by a devout believer and more of a display of defiant pride by one who feels divinity within the creative process of the human spirit. It is a example of that man-centered, man-flattering religiosity so roundly condemned in Isaiah 58—brilliant, accomplished, creative, passionate, sensual, articulate, intellectual, and temporarily satisfying but nevertheless devoid of true spirituality.