During railway journeys amuses himself with cryptograms; solved one by John Holt Schooling who defied the world to unravel his mystery.
Robert J. Buckley in his 1905 biography of Sir Edward Elgar
The British romantic composer Edward Elgar excelled in coding and decoding secret messages, a discipline known formally as cryptography. His obsession with that esoteric art merits an entire chapter in Craig P. Bauer’s treatise Unsolved! Much of the third chapter is devoted to Elgar’s brilliant decryption of an allegedly insoluble Nihilist cipher conceived by John Holt Schooling that was published in an April 1896 issue of The Pall Mall Magazine. Elgar was so gratified by his solution to Schooling’s reputedly impenetrable code that he specifically mentions it in his first biography released in 1905 by Robert J. Buckley.
Elgar painted his decryption in black paint on a wooden box, an appropriate medium as another name for the Polybius checkerboard is a box cipher. His methodical solution is summarized on a set of nine index cards. On the sixth card, Elgar relates the task of cracking the cipher to “. . . working (in the dark).” This parenthetical expression using the word “dark” as a synonym for a cipher is significant because he employs that same phraseology in the original 1899 program note to characterize the Enigma Theme. It is an oft-cited passage that merits revisiting as Elgar lays the groundwork for his tripartite riddle:
The Enigma I will not explain – its ‘dark saying’ must be left unguessed, and I warn you that the connexion between the Variations and the Theme is often of the slightest texture; further, through and over the whole set another and larger theme ‘goes’, but is not played…So the principal Theme never appears, even as in some later dramas – e.g., Maeterlinck’s ‘L’Intruse’ and ‘Les sept Princesses’ – the chief character is never on the stage.
Elgar also employs the words “dark” and “secret” interchangeably in a letter to August Jaeger penned on February 5, 1900. He wrote, “Well—I can’t help it but I hate continually saying ‘Keep it dark’ — ’a dead secret’ — & so forth.” One of the meanings of dark is secret, and a saying is a series of words that form a phrase or adage. Elgar’s odd expression — “dark saying” — is code for a code, a secret message enciphered within the Enigma Theme.
A compulsion for cryptography is a reigning pillar of Elgar’s psychological profile. A decade of systematic analysis of the Enigma Variations has netted over seventy cryptograms in diverse formats that encode a set of mutually consistent and complementary solutions. Although this figure may seem incredible, it is entirely consistent with a dominant facet of Elgar’s psychological profile — an obsession with ciphers. More significantly, their solutions provide definitive answers to the core questions posed by the Enigma Variations.
What is the secret melody to which the Enigma Theme is a counterpoint and serves as the melodic foundation for the ensuing movements? Answer: Ein feste Burg (A Mighty Fortress) by Martin Luther. What is Elgar’s “dark saying” hidden within the Enigma Theme? Answer: A musical Polybius box cipher situated in the opening six bars. Who is the secret friend and inspiration behind Variation XIII? Answer: Jesus Christ, the Savior of Elgar’s Roman Catholic faith.
An early breakthrough in 2013 unveiled the meaning and significance of the three asterisks in the cryptic title of Variation XIII (✡ ✡ ✡). It was determined these missing letters are cleverly encoded by the first initials of the titles from the adjoining movements. The first initials from the titles of Variations XII (B) and XIV (E, and F) are an acrostic anagram of the initials for the covert Theme (Ein feste Burg). Elgar deftly frames the question posed by the three asterisks with the answer hidden in plain view. He experimented with five different orderings of the movements, a process that in retrospect was carried out to construct this particular cipher. Such a possibility eluded deluded scholars like Julian Rushton who speculated that Elgar lacked the time to construct any cryptograms. Elgar began openly composing the Enigma Variations in earnest on October 21, 1898. He completed the preliminary orchestration on February 19, 1899. This process consumed 121 days, a period that afforded more than enough time and opportunity for Elgar to indulge his passion for cryptography.
The acrostic anagram in the titles of Variations XII and XIV that encodes the initials to the covert Theme is an elementary cryptogram known as the Letters Cluster Cipher. Its discovery eventually precipitated a much broader analysis of all the titles from the Enigma Variations with the goal of uncovering other meaningful and relevant groupings of letters close to one another. It was theorized that Elgar embedded words within those titles that are associated with the absent Principal Theme, the Enigma’s “dark saying”, and the secret friend. The Letters Cluster Cipher in the titles of Variations XII and XIV is just one example of this coding artifice. This approach is markedly dissimilar from Stephen Pickett’s surgical cherry-picking of single initials from titles and names allegedly associated with them to assemble a presumed solution for the absent Theme.
The first step in this reappraisal was to lay out the sequence and configuration of the titles from the Enigma Variations just as they appear in the orchestral score. The outcome is summarized in the table below. There are fifteen movements with divergent titles that have a grand total of 187 characters. There is one dash, three asterisks, fourteen pairs of parentheses for a total of 28, and 46 periods. There are nine sets of initials with 27 letters, seven words with 49 letters, and fourteen Roman numerals with 33 letters.
Before venturing any further, it is crucial to recognize that Elgar employed inventive phonetic spellings in his personal correspondence. Some examples of these atypical spellings are listed below:
- Bizziness (business)
- çkor (score)
- cszquōrrr (score)
- fagotten (forgotten)
- FAX (facts)
- frazes (phrases)
- gorjus (gorgeous)
- phatten (fatten)
- skorh (score)
- SSCZOWOUGHOHR (score)
- Xmas (Christmas)
- Xqqqq (Excuse)
- Xti (Christi)
The first intriguing cluster of letters to emerge from the opening movements of the Enigma Variations is “CHRST”, a phonetic rendering of Christ. This title is drawn from the first initials of Variations I through III (CHR), and the third initials from Variations II and III (ST). These initials are sequential and aligned in two neat parallel rows. It is equally feasible to realize this title exactly as “CHRIST” by inserting a Roman numeral I from the first variation.
Jesus is the secret friend memorialized in Variation XIII. His initials are transparently encoded by the Roman numerals for that movement using a simple number-to-letter key. X represents ten, and the tenth letter of the alphabet is J. III stands for the number three, and the third letter is C. XIII is a coded form of the initials “JC”. This is not an isolated instance because Elgar utilized the same number-to-letter key to encode the initials for his friend August Jaeger via the Roman numerals for Variation IX, a movement given the unusual title Nimrod. The three asterisks for Variation XIII do not represent the covert friend’s initials, but rather the absent initials of the absent Theme as confirmed by the Letters Cluster Cipher and other cryptograms in Variation XIII.
Another related word that may be formed by other initials from Variations I through III is abide. This term is theologically significant because Jesus taught his disciples in John 15:4:
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
Elgar’s personal library held several hymnals, including the encyclopedic Hymns: Ancient and Modern, which hosts numerous hymns with the term abide in their titles and lyrics. For example, Hymn 11 is entitled “Abide with Us.” Each stanza of Hymn 14 concludes with the refrain “abide with me.” Other hymns from that popular work make extensive use of the word abide. In July 1923, Elgar orchestrated Sir Ivor Atkins’ anthem “Abide with me” originally released in 1908. Atkins served as the choirmaster and organist at Worcester Cathedral between 1897 and 1950. The proximity of the terms Christ and abide encoded within the opening movements of the Enigma Variations has a robust and deep foundation in hymnody.
Another word that may be formed by the initials and Roman numerals in these opening movements is Pie. This is the Latin word for pious which may be approximated phonetically as Pi by omitting the e. ‘Pie Jesu’ is a text from the final couplet of the hymn Dies Irae that is often featured in musical settings of the Requin Mass. A retired engineer named Richard Santa made the astonishing discovery that a rounded form of the mathematical constant Pi (3.142) is encoded in the first bar of the Enigma Theme by its melodic intervals (3-1-4-2). This is the same bar in which a Polybius Box Cipher encodes “GSUS”, a phonetic spelling for Jesus. The pairing of these two overlapping decryptions as “Pi Gsus” comprises a third layer of encryption that generates “Pie Jesu.” The positioning of the letters necessary to form both Pie and Christ in close proximity within the titles of the Enigma Variations reasserts this encrypted association. Three -different cryptograms that encipher the same set of answers herald a convergence that defies a fortuitous formation.
Elgar learned about the Polybius box cipher from an article entitled “Secrets in Cipher” by John Holt Schooling that was published in an April 1896 edition of The Pall Mall Magazine. This article remained in Elgar’s personal library until his death in February 1934. His single greatest contribution to cryptography was a unique adaptation of the Polybius box cipher to music. The first word that he enciphered with his musical Polybius box cipher was “GSUS”, a clever phonetic version of Jesus consistent with Elgar’s penchant for innovative and unexpected spellings. Elgar may have been led to embrace this method of encipherment because John Holt Schooling’s initials (J.H.S.) reproduce a Christogram. These initials may also be expressed as IHC or IHS to represent the first three letters of the Greek name of Jesus (ΙΗΣΟΥΣ) as iota-eta-sigma (ΙΗΣ). Remarkably, both Christograms appear in close proximity in the same region of the titles that encode “CHRIST”.
It is feasible to assemble the acrostic anagram “IHC SPIRIT ABIDE” from adjacent letters in the titles of Variations I - IV. This coded phrase translates as “Jesus’ Spirit Abide.”
The Chi Rho (XP) is a Christogram that may be easily constructed from the titles of the opening three movements. The Greek letter X is spelled out as Chi. These letters may be readily culled together from Variation I using the Roman numeral and its first initial in conjunction with the first initial from Variation II. The Rho is represented by the letter P which appears as the last initial in Variation II. The Chi Rho is formed by superimposing the first two Greek letters from the Greek word ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ (Christos) with the center of the Chi placed over the vertical line of the Rho.
The Chi-Rho monogram is sometimes accompanied by the symbols for Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. These letters are a special title for Jesus who said in Revelation 22:13, “I am the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” The Alpha is the letter A, and the lowercase Omega resembles a cursive capital E favored by Elgar that is reoriented horizontally to resemble a W. In his celebrated Dorabella Cipher created in July 1897, Elgar wrote the glyph for a curvaceous capital cursive E in various angles including one that replicates a W. The symbols for the Alpha (A) and lowercase Omega (W oriented as an E) appear in the title of Variation I in conjunction with the letters necessary to form the Chi Rho.
Another Christogram that appears in the title of Variation I is the acronym for In Christo (I. C.). The pronunciation of these two letters is a homonym of the phrase “I see.” This was spoken by a man born blind whose sight was restored by Jesus, a miracle celebrated in Elgar’s sacred oratorio The Light of Life (Lux Christi) and recounted in the ninth chapter of John’s Gospel. After his miraculous healing, the man who once begged in the streets for alms stood before the Pharisees to give his testimony. The Pharisees interrogated the former beggar in an attempt to contrive proof that Jesus somehow violated Mosaic law by healing on the Sabbath. When the Pharisees accused Jesus of being a sinner, the healed man replied, “I don’t know whether he’s a sinner. Here’s what I do know: I was blind and now I see.” The gaping irony is that Elgar placed these two letters at the outset of the Variations, and yet no tenured scholars — the contemporary equivalent of contemptuous Pharisees — were capable of perceiving their significance.
There is a Renaissance sculpture by Michaelangelo that depicts the crucified body of Jesus laying across the lap of his grieving mother, Mary. This renowned marble is called the Pietà, Italian for “The Pity.” The neighboring letters in titles I-III may be arranged to spell “PIETA”.
The inclusion of the I and C yields a sideways L formation that is an anagram of “I C PIETA,” a phonetic rendering of the phrase “I see Pietà.”
Another title for Jesus that may be assembled from the letters from the titles of Variations IV through VI is lamb. This word is produced by the second and third initials of IV (M. B.), the last initial of V (A), and the last letter in VI (l). John 1:29 recounts that when John the Baptist saw Jesus, he proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
The Enigma Theme’s trademark palindromic rhythm of alternating pairs of two eighth notes (two dots) and two quarter notes (two dashes) is Morse Code for “IM MI”. This is a phonetic version of the Great I AM uttered by God to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus 3:13-14. When Moses asked for His name, God replied that it is “I am Who I am.” God then followed his unusual title with its short form, “I am.” This divine title is often capitalized as “I AM.” When questioned about his identity by the religious authorities, Jesus invoked that same name in John 8:56-59. When the authorities came to arrest Jesus, he again identified himself by that special title no less than three times in John 18:4-8.
There are precisely two letter clusters in the titles IV and VIII of the Enigma Variations that reproduce the “IM”. The first Roman numeral of IV paired with its first initial (W) is an inverted mirror image of “IM”. The last Roman numeral of VIII combined with its first initial (W) is a second upside-down rendering of “IM”. This cryptogram becomes more apparent when the titles are viewed upended.
Another term that may be constructed from the initials of these opening movements is bride. Variation I is dedicated to Elgar’s wife, Caroline Alice Elgar, his bride. The I and E are conveniently furnished by the first and last letters of her movement’s title. In the scriptures, Jesus is likened to a bridegroom and the church as his bride. The scriptures teach that the Bride of Christ is the church. Elgar married Alice at the Brompton Oratory, a Roman Catholic church. The encoding of the word bride in close proximity to Christ and the Christograms “IHC” and “IHS” furnishes another revealing example of a theologically loaded term linked to Jesus.
The combination of the first initial from Variation III with the Roman numerals realizes RIII, a phonetic rendering of rise reminiscent of Elgar’s spelling of excuse as “xqqq”. During his earthly ministry, Jesus taught that he would lay down his life as the sacrificial Passover Lamb and rise from the dead after spending three days in the tomb. An R (the initial for resurrection) is symbolically paired with the Roman numerals III (a symbol for three days) to produce a phonetic rendering of rise. The belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus is a central tenet of Roman Catholicism. The intersection of a phonetic spelling of rise as “RIII” with a phonetic spelling of Christ as “CHRST” provides more evidence for a carefully crafted array of initials ciphers.
Another term concealed in plain sight within the titles of the opening three movements is bread. This word is closely associated with the ministry of Jesus. In Matthew 14:13-21, Jesus blessed five loaves of bread and two fishes. He then directed his disciples to distribute the food that miraculously multiplied, feeding over five thousand people. In John 6:32-35, Jesus called himself the “bread of heaven” and the “bread of life.” At the Last Supper on the eve of his crucifixion, Jesus broke bread to symbolize his dead and broken body.
Another word associated with Jesus is spelled phonetically as spt but may be accurately spelled as spit by inserting a Roman numeral “I”. Jesus performed numerous miracles using his own spit (see Mark 7:33, Mark 8:23, John 9:6). In his sacred oratorio The Light of Life (Lux Christi), Elgar beautifully portrays the miracle from the Gospel of John in which Jesus restores sight to a man born blind. Jesus mixed earth with his own saliva to produce clay and then spread it on the mans’ eyes. Christ then instructed him to go wash at the Pool of Siloam. The man complied, and after rinsing away the mud, saw for the first time in his life a world that had been previously shrouded in darkness.
The word spit turns up again after the secretive arrest and trial of Jesus in the dead of night behind closed doors. Jesus was mocked and beaten following his mock trial where he was unjustly convicted by the religious authorities of heresy. In the aftermath, some bystanders spit on him (Mark 14:65). In the morning, Jesus was condemned to death by Pontius Pilate. The Roman soldiers stripped Jesus of his clothing, clothed him in a scarlet robe (the traditional color of royalty), placed a reed in his right hand for a sham staff, crowned him with a crown of thorns, kneeled before him in mock fealty and proclaimed, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They then spit on him, took the reed staff and struck him repeatedly on the head with it to drive the crown of thorns deeper into his bruised and bleeding scalp (Matthew 27-31).
There are fourteen sets of Roman numerals in the Enigma Variations with a total of 33 characters. The numbers associated with the Roman numerals (14 and 33) are intriguing because Roman Catholic tradition teaches that Jesus was crucified by the Romans at age 33 and that he traversed fourteen Stations of the Cross. This path is known in Latin as the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) and the Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrows). The number of movements assigned Roman numerals appears to be a deliberate allusion to the number fourteen and its connection to the passion of Elgar’s covert companion. The word Via may be assembled from the last initial of Variation V (A) and the Roman numerals for Variation VI. Early Christians said they were followers of “the Way,” and Jesus himself said in John 14:6 that he was “the way.”
There are several coded allusions in the Enigma Variations to Dante’s celebrated Christian poem the Divine Comedy. For example, Dante portrays Nimrod as a giant incarcerated in the ninth circle of Hell. In a revealing gesture, Elgar assigned the title Nimrod to Variation IX. There is a famous mystery in Dante’s epic called the “enigma forte” (hard enigma) to which he ascribes the mysterious number 515. The Roman numerals for those movements with letters that spell lamb generate that sequence of numbers twice as “VIV”. These are the first three letters of vivat, the Latin verb for “to live.” In John 11:25, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”
The Roman numeral for Dante’s mystical number 515 is DXV. Those three letters appear in Variation XIV, Elgar’s musical self-portrait. The position of this coded reference to Dante’s “enigma forte” comes immediately after Variation XIII, a movement secretly dedicated to Jesus. Variation XIII begins at Rehearsal 55 and includes bar 515 where the second Mendelssohn quotation in A-flat major is played by a solo clarinet two measures after Rehearsal 57. The evidence points to Elgar positing that Jesus is the solution to Dante’s difficult enigma about a future Savior.
Dante’s mystical number is translated by Longfellow as “Five-hundred, Ten, and Five.” The first and last words of that title are identical: Five. This number is evocative of the miracle in which Jesus fed five thousand with two fishes and five loaves of bread. That special number is spelled out by the proximate initials and Roman numerals in Variation XIV.
After factoring out the initials (E and F) and Roman numerals (I and V) from the title of Variation XIV that are required to spell “FIVE”, the remaining letters are two initials (D and U) and one Roman numeral (X). Those three letters may be recombined to spell “DUX”, the Latin word for leader.
The titles of the Enigma Variations’ opening movements also harbor the word beads. Roman Catholics recite a sequence of prayers known as the Rosary using a necklace of beads to track their progress. The first two Mendelssohn quotations in Variation XIII performed by the clarinet are cited in the key of A-flat major, a mode with four flats that also spell in order the word bead.
The first initials of Variations V through VII are “RYT”, a phonetic rendering of Right. When read in reverse as “TYR”, it produces a virtual spelling of Tyre, a city also called Tarshish in the Old Testament Book of Jonah.
Jonah was a prophet commanded by God to preach a message of repentance to the depraved city of Nineveh. Rather than obeying the Lord’s command, Jonah fled in the opposite direction to the port city of Joppa and boarded a ship to Tarshish. Jonah vainly hid from God at sea when suddenly a tempest threatened to swamp the ship. Immediately following where “TYR” is spelled by the first initials of Variations V-VII, the words “BIG WIND” are also enciphered as an acrostic anagram by the titles of Variations VIII through XII.
A storm is defined as “a disturbance of the atmosphere marked by wind.” The gale that threatened to sink the craft carrying Jonah to Tyre away from his calling is aptly characterized as a big wind.
The crew suspected that God was angry with one of the passengers and cast lots to unmask the divine offender. When Jonah was unmasked, he instructed the crew that the only way to save their ship and themselves was to cast him overboard. In desperation, they complied. As soon as Jonah hit the water, the storm dissipated and a large whale swallowed him whole. Jonah spent the next three days and nights inside the belly of the leviathan before being vomited up onto dry land. As first instructed by God, Jonah journeyed to Nineveh and preached a message of repentance. The people listened intently, and the city was saved.
In Matthew 12:38-42, Jesus referred to Jonah as a symbol of his own death and resurrection. This accounts for why one of the earliest and most widely recognized Christograms is the Jesus Fish that in the Greek is called the Ichthys. It is significant that the fourteen pairs of parentheses () that enclose titles of the Variations may be connected at one end and crossed at the other to reproduce this early Christogram. The Sign of Jonah shines a theological dimension on the marine atmosphere symbolized by the Mendelssohn fragments in Variation XIII because as soon as Jonah was thrown into the depths, the sea became calm. The Mendelssohn fragments sonically portray a calm sea.
Contiguous initials from the titles of Variations X through XII may be reshuffled to form “RSN G-D”, a phonetic rendering of “Risen God.” This find elides elegantly with the coded references to Tyre and a big wind, key elements in the account of Jonah that Jesus appealed to as proof of his divine authority.
The stark precursors to the resurrection of Jesus were his death and burial. Adjacent letters from the titles of Variations X through XII may be reordered to form “SNG” and “DIRG.” These are phonetic renderings of sing and dirge. Merriam-Webster defines a dirge as “a song or hymn of grief or lamentation,” and “a slow, solemn and mournful piece of music.” The close proximity of these phonetically spelled letter clusters is further evidence that the ordering of Variations’ titles is far from random.
During his earthly ministry, Jesus spoke about singing a dirge. Matthew 11:16-17 records his remarks:
But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,
“We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.”
Another coded reference to the resurrection is found in the titles of Variation XI through XIII. The third initials of Variations XI (S) and XII (N) line up to form a phonetic version of son and sun. The first letter from Romanza combined with the adjacent Roman numerals III from XIII produces “RIII”, a phonetic rendering of rise. “SN RIII” may be read phonetically as “Son rise” and “Sun rise.” These two decryptions intersect with two titles for Jesus as the Son of God (1 John 5:20) and the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2).
Between these two phonetically spelled words are three hexagrammic asterisks, miniature Stars of David that flagrantly hint at the lineage of Elgar’s secret friend as the Son of David. Elgar wrote these hexagrammic asterisks on the original short score, and they were faithfully preserved on the published full score. Variation XIII is dedicated in secret to Jesus. The X and III resemble the cross and three nails on the official logo of the Society of Jesus, known more commonly as the Jesuits. This Christogram also includes the IHS Insignia which may also be represented by IHC. It was previously noted that these two sets of initials appear as letter clusters in the titles of Variations I and II.
The word RED may be forged from elements from the titles of Variations XIII and XIV. This term is encoded by the initial R from Romanza, a subtitle for Variations XIII, and the first two initials from Variation XIV (E and D).
The color red is a symbol of the shedding of blood and the remission of sin. A famous passage in Isaiah 1:18 sets the tone, using the term scarlet to denote the color red:
Come now, and let’s settle this,
says the Lord.
Though your sins are like scarlet,
they will be white as snow.
If they are red as crimson,
they will become like wool.
At the first Passover on the eve of their dramatic escape from Egypt, each household of the Israelites was commanded by God to sacrifice an unblemished lamb and apply its blood on the doorposts and lintel of their homes. God passed through the land that night, striking down the firstborn of every household that did not spread the sacrificial blood around the doorways of their dwellings. The Enigma Variations uses the name of one of those Israelites present at that inaugural event. The title for Variation VI is Ysobel, a name derived from Elisheba. She was the wife of Aaron, the brother of Moses who led the Israelites out of Egypt. In Hebrew, the name Elisheba means “God is abundance.” Like Ysobel, the name Elizabeth is drawn from Elisheba.
Passover is interpreted by Christian theologians as a shadow picture of Christ who served as the ultimate and final Passover Lamb. At the Last Supper, Jesus blessed a cup of wine and gave it to his disciples to drink. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many so that their sins may be forgiven.” The Turin Shroud is believed by many to be the burial cloth of Christ, and it is stained red with human blood. There are multiple coded references to the Turin Shroud within the Enigma Variations. In 2020, Passover begins on April 8 and ends on April 16. Amid this celebration, there will be a special broadcast on April 11 from the Turin Cathedral of an extraordinary ceremony venerating the Holy Shroud.
The color red is associated with the words of Christ because of special red letter editions of the New Testament. These versions of the Bible display the spoken words of Jesus in red ink. The German-American publisher Louis Klopsch conceived of this idea on June 19, 1899. That was also a red letter day in Elgar’s career because it was on that day of days that Hans Richter conducted the premiere of the Enigma Variations at St. James Hall in London. Elgar’s breakout symphonic work was unveiled the same day that Klopsch experienced his red-letter epiphany.
One final example of a coded phrase appears in the title of the last variation. The initials combined with the first letter of Finale form the letter cluster “FED U” that may be read phonetically as “Fed you.” Recall that Egar wrote “Xtian” as a shorthand for Christian by substituting the X (a symbol of the cross) for Christ. Appending the “X” to “FED U” produces the phrase “Christ fed you.” One of the most renowned miracles of Jesus was the feeding of the five thousand using only five loaves of bread and two fishes. Roman Catholics celebrate the Eucharist at Mass where the priest, an earthly envoy of Christ, feeds the faithful bread and wine to commemorate the death of Jesus.
The discovery in 2013 of the Letters Cluster Cipher nestled within the titles of Variations XII through XIV revealed that the absent initials denoted by the three asterisks of Variation XIII are the initials (E. F. B.) for the covert Theme (Ein feste Burg). This breakthrough sparked a comprehensive reassessment of all the titles of the Enigma Variations as it was theorized that Elgar enciphered other words and phrases through small clusters of neighboring Roman numerals and letters from adjoining or nearby titles. The ensuing cryptanalysis showed how Elgar ingeniously enciphered a raft of Christograms, various titles for his secret friend, and other affiliated biblical allusions. This elaborate series of cryptograms is bookended by two sets of Elgar’s initials, a feature common to other ciphers found in the Enigma Variations as illustrated by the Enigma Psalm Cipher.
These decryptions overwhelmingly prove that Jesus is Elgar’s secret friend. These ciphers were constructed based on various combinations of letters in close proximity from the titles of neighboring movements. The pervasiveness of these interrelated names and terms is persuasive evidence for a meticulous ordering of the titles with the object of producing interlocking letters and words. These discoveries recast our understanding of why Elgar’s produced five different lists of the Enigma Variations. Collectively, these cryptograms are identified as the Proximate Title Letters Enigma Ciphers. They form an important part of a latticework of ciphers within the Enigma Variations that present an aesthetic musical homage to cryptography. The reader may determine whether their unmasking is utter fantasy or dazzling cryptography. To learn more about the secrets of the Enigma Variations, read my free eBook Elgar's Enigmas Exposed.
An admiral and very erudite analysis of an exceedingly complex, so far unsolved problem that was of great interest to me, many thanks.
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