Sunday, January 31, 2021

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring

The famous Johann Sebastian Bach composed or arranged the music of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” in 1723. Martin Janus (circa 1620-1682) wrote the hymn “Jesu, meiner Seelen Wonne,” 1661. Some sources attribute the translation to Robert Seymour Bridges (1844-1930), but this may be in error. The hymn meter is 8s.7s, which is doubled to fit Bach’s setting. The original hymn consisted of 18 stanzas.

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

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

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

4. Theirs is beauty’s fairest pleasure;
Theirs is wisdom’s holiest treasure.
Thou dost ever lead Thine own
In the love of joys unknown.

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