Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
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Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring is the most common English title of a piece of music derived from a chorale setting 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 1723. The same music on different stanzas of a chorale closes both parts of the cantata.
A transcription by the English pianist Myra Hess (1890–1965) was published in 1926 for piano solo and in 1934 for piano duet. It is often performed slowly and reverently at wedding ceremonies, as well as during Christian festive seasons like Christmas and Easter. for voices with trumpet, oboes, strings, and continuo.
Bach composed a four-part setting with independent orchestral accompaniment of two stanzas of the hymn "Jesu, meiner Seelen Wonne", written by Martin Janus in 1661, which was sung to a melody by the violinist and composer Johann Schop, "Werde munter, mein Gemüthe". The movements conclude the two parts of the cantata.
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.
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 stanzas of the same hymn that Bach had drawn upon: "Jesu, meiner Seelen Wonne", the lyrics of which were written in 1661 by Martin Janus (or Jahn), and which was sung to Johann Schop's 1642 "Werde munter, mein Gemüte" hymn tune.
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.
Jahn's verses 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,
Well for me that I have Jesus,
"Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring", shortened to simply "Joy", became a pop hit record in 1972 when covered by English studio group Apollo 100. It reached number six on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 during the winter of that year. In Canada, "Joy" reached number 24. It is ranked as the 71st biggest U.S. hit of 1972.
- Boyd, M., ed. "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring", The Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach, Oxford University Press
- Kennedy, M., ed. "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring", Oxford Dictionary of Music, Oxford University Press
- Arnold, Denis (1983). The New Oxford Companion to Music. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-311316-3.
- "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben", The Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach, Oxford University Press
- "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" lyrics, Our Wedding Songs
- Bach; "Jesu, joy of man's desiring", web-published by St Basil's Music
- BWV 147 Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben
- "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1972-02-26. Retrieved 2018-12-30.
- https://www.musicoutfitters.com/topsongs/1972.htm Billboard.com. Accessed December 30, 2018.
- Free sheet music of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring from Cantorion.org
- Cantata, BWV 147: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)
- Recording of the German original version and the English translation (The Choir of Somerville College, Oxford)
- "Kantate, BWV 147 "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben": Teil II, X. Choral "Jesus bleibet meine Freude"" at MusicBrainz (information and list of recordings)