This piece by Bach, however, was completely new to me, and I was full of gratitude to Francis for introducing it to me. As I wrote in 2002:
‘I was left to listen to the entire piece on my own, with a cup of espresso in front of me.
Gradually, I became still. I tried to make out bits of German in the first recitative. ‘Schmerz’ (pain) was repeated. I felt calmer as I listened to the ‘Duet’; and was almost in tears during the famous Chorale, transfixed by its questing and spiritual agonising.
Was Francis – at a subconscious level – gently guiding me into a new place of stillness and rapture. Was this a gift to me; to admonish me and then lead me to a higher level of trancendence.
It was late now, and time to leave. Francis helped me on with my coat, and gallantly walked me to the tube station. We shook hands rather stiffly, and said goodnight. The evening hadn’t been a success; but he had left me with a new, delicious secret: Bach!
Within a few days, I’d bought a long -play record of two Bach cantatas: ‘Sleepers Awake ( Wachet Auf, ruft uns die Stimme!’) twinned with ‘Lobet Gott’. It was an E.M.I. recording, on mono, with a splendid reproduction of Blake’s illustration of ‘The Wise and Foolish Virgins’, on its rather austere black and white cover. I kept it until 2010, when I moved house, and gave it away.
Certainly, Francis had awakened a life-long love of Bach in me. Years later I read an interview between Francis and Ben Colodzin in the Olympia Institute Quarterly about the importance of having a ‘guiding light’ in one’s life.
And I totally understood what he meant.