Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring is the most common English title of the 10th and last movement of the cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147 ("Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life"), composed by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1716 and 1723.

A transcription by the English pianist Myra Hess (1890–1965) was published in 1926 for piano solo and in 1934 for piano duet.[1] It is often performed slowly and reverently at wedding ceremonies, as well as during Christian festive seasons like Christmas and Easter, in spite of the affect suggested by Bach in his original scoring,[2] for voices with trumpet, oboes, strings, and continuo.


Much of the music of Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben comes from Bach's Weimar period. This earlier version (BWV 147a, composed 1716) lacked the recitatives, but included the opening chorus and the four arias incorporated into the later version. For Leipzig (composed 1723), Bach added three recitatives and the celebrated chorale movement which concludes each of the two parts.[3]

Although it is the 32nd surviving cantata that Bach composed, it was assigned the number BWV 147 in the complete catalogue of his works.[4] Bach wrote a total of 200 cantatas during his time in Leipzig, largely to meet the Leipzig Churches' demand for about 58 different cantatas each year.

Contrary to the common assumption, the violinist and composer Johann Schop, not Bach, composed the movement's underlying chorale melody, "Werde munter, mein Gemüthe"; Bach's contribution was to harmonize and orchestrate it.[5] It is one segment of an extended, approximately 20-minute treatment of a traditional Church hymn, as is typical of cantatas of the Baroque period.

Instrumental arrangements

Bach scored the chorale movements (6 and 10) from Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben for choir, trumpet, violin, optionally oboe, viola, and basso continuo. The music's wide popularity has led to numerous arrangements and transcriptions, such as for the classical guitar and, in Wendy Carlos' album Switched-On Bach, on the Moog synthesizer. According to The New Oxford Companion to Music, the best-known transcription for piano is by Dame Myra Hess.[5]


English text

The following is the most commonly heard English version of the piece. It was written by the poet laureate Robert Bridges. It is not a translation of the stanzas used within Bach's original version, but is inspired by the stanzas of the same hymn composed in 1642 by Johann Schop that Bach had drawn upon: "Jesu, meiner Seelen Wonne", the lyrics of which were written in 1661 by Martin Janus (or Jahn, c. 1620c. 1682).

Performances of Chorale from BWV 147, "Jesus bleibet meine Freude" (Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring)
Performed in 1935 by Orchestre symphonique de Paris (3:35)

Performed by Orchestra Gli Armonici (3:22)

Piano, organ, some bells and harps (3:13)

Harpsichord, violin, viola, cello (2:39)

Problems playing these files? See media help.

Jesu, joy of man's desiring,
Holy wisdom, love most bright;
Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light.

Word of God, our flesh that fashioned,
With the fire of life impassioned,
Striving still to truth unknown,
Soaring, dying round Thy throne.

Through the way where hope is guiding,
Hark, what peaceful music rings;
Where the flock, in Thee confiding,
Drink of joy from deathless springs.

Theirs is beauty's fairest pleasure;
Theirs is wisdom's holiest treasure.
Thou dost ever lead Thine own
In the love of joys unknown.[1]

  1. ^ "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" lyrics, Our Wedding Songs

Original text

Jahn's verses[6][7] express a close, friendly, and familiar friendship with Jesus, who gives life to the poet. It has been noted that the original German hymn was characteristically a lively hymn of praise, which is carried over somewhat into Bach's arrangement; whereas a slower, more stately tempo is traditionally used with the English version.

Wohl mir, daß ich Jesum habe,
o wie feste halt' ich ihn,
daß er mir mein Herze labe,
wenn ich krank und traurig bin.

Jesum hab' ich, der mich liebet
und sich mir zu eigen giebet,
ach drum laß' ich Jesum nicht,
wenn mir gleich mein Herze bricht.

Jesus bleibet meine Freude,
meines Herzens Trost und Saft,
Jesus wehret allem Leide,
er ist meines Lebens Kraft,

meiner Augen Lust und Sonne,
meiner Seele Schatz und Wonne;
darum laß' ich Jesum nicht
aus dem Herzen und Gesicht.

Well for me that I have Jesus,
O how strong I hold to him
that he might refresh my heart,
when sick and sad am I.

Jesus have I, who loves me
and gives to me his own,
ah, therefore I will not leave Jesus,
when I feel my heart is breaking.—from BWV 147, Chorale movement no 6

Jesus remains my joy,
my heart's comfort and essence,
Jesus resists all suffering,
He is my life's strength,

my eye's desire and sun,
my soul's love and joy;
so will I not leave Jesus
out of heart and face.—from BWV 147, Chorale movement no. 10

Below are the opening stanzas of Jahn's "Jesu, meiner Seelen Wonne".

Jesu, meiner Seelen Wonne,
Jesu, meine beste Lust,
Jesu, meine Freudensonne,
Jesu, dir ist ja bewußt,
wie ich dich so herzlich liebe
und mich ohne dich betrübe.
Drum o Jesu komm zu mir
und bleib bei mir für und für!

Jesu, mein Hort und Erretter,
Jesu, meine Zuversicht,
Jesu, starker Schlangentreter,
Jesu, meines Lebens Licht!
Wie verlanget meinem Herzen,
Jesulein, nach dir mit Schmerzen!
Komm, ach komm, ich warte dein,
komm, o liebstes Jesulein!

  1. ^ "Jesu, meiner Seelen Wonne",

Jesus, delight of my soul,
Jesus, my best pleasure,
Jesus, my sun of joy,
Jesus, it is well known to you
how I love you from my heart
and am distressed without you.
Therefore O Jesus come to me
and stay with me forever and ever.

Jesus, my refuge and deliverer,
Jesus, the ground of my confidence,
Jesus, mighty trampler on the serpent,
Jesus, light of my life!
How my heart longs for you,
dear Jesus, painfully!
Come, ah come, I wait for you,
come, O dearest Jesus![1]

  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference BCE was invoked but never defined (see the help page).


  1. Boyd, M., ed. "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring", The Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach, Oxford University Press
  2. Kennedy, M., ed. "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring", Oxford Dictionary of Music, Oxford University Press
  3. "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben", The Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach, Oxford University Press
  4. Bach Cantatas, Chronological Listing
  5. 1 2 Arnold, Denis (1983). The New Oxford Companion to Music. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-311316-3.
  6. Bach; "Jesu, joy of man's desiring", web-published by St Basil's Music
  7. BWV 147 Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/4/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.