Johann Sebastian Bach: Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring (Naturally Bach)

Bach’s birthday is March 31.  He’ll be 331 years old.  In his honor, here’s a striking video I saw last year on a blog.  It’s quite pleasing.  Below it are a number of other arrangements.  Tell me which you prefer. Poll at bottom of this post.

Jesu is actually the last movement of Bach’s Cantata BWV 147–Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben (Heart and mouth and deed and life). Written in his first year in Leipzig for the Mass that celebrates the Visitation of Mary by the angel announcing she’d be giving birth to the Messiah.

The German title for this piece is Jesus bleibet meine Freude which means “Jesus shall remain my gladness.” The more accepted English title comes from a piano transcription by Dame Myra Hess:


Here is a version for orchestra and chorus, which you might find a bit bombastic:

Orchestra with Chorus (Auf Deutsch)

I kind of like this version, which is simpler, using just four instruments:

String Quartet

Probably the nicest is the original scoring for 4 soloists, a 4 part chorus, and according to Wikipedia, “a festive trumpet, two oboes (oboe d’amore, oboe da caccia), two violins, viola and basso continuo including bassoon.”

So which do you prefer?

An interesting chronology of Bach’s life can be found here.


About kurtnemes
Writer and Education Professional. Specialties include Ethics, Personal Memoir, Classical music, Tai Chi, Stress Reduction, Meditation, Coping, Classical Music, Aging, Love, Joy, Compassion and Equanimity (& what interests me.)

7 Responses to Johann Sebastian Bach: Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring (Naturally Bach)

  1. kvennarad says:

    I may vote, but when I want to chill out I always listen to the lightly-swung jazz interpretation by the Jacques Loussier Trio. This is the original recording:

    Liked by 1 person

  2. kvennarad says:

    Okay, I’m going to put my hand in the bucket for the original score. I like the piano version, and I had seen the ‘natural xylophone’ version before – it is very engaging – but when it comes down to his music I like to get as close to Bach’s vision as I can.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Knot Telling says:

    Happy sigh. Thanks for posting one of my all-time favorites.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Knot Telling says:

    Sorry for double dipping, but can’t edit my previous comment and I posted too soon.

    I once learned to play Pete Seeger’s arrangement of Jesus, Joy of Man’s Desiring for five-string banjo. It is exquisite. This isn’t the same arrangement, but it’s similar.

    Liked by 1 person

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