Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring

I have a bit of a fascination with origins. 

Of anything and everything.

So recently when I was listening to Celtic Woman’s version of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” (which I happen to love), I began to wonder if the standard modern lyrics were original to the piece…or at least an accurate translation of the original lyrics.

Honestly, I wasn’t even certain that the original piece had lyrics…and even if it did, I wasn’t certain of the original language or if Johann Sebastian Bach had written them when he composed the piece or not.

Well, according to Wikipedia (which I’ll agree has its limitations, but sometimes proves quite helpful), the German lyrics to the 10th movement of the cantata in which this song appears (BWV 147) are as follows:

“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.”

Now, I must confess, I don’t know German, but thanks to Google Translate (among others…), the most literal translation of the above appears to be:

“Jesu, joy,

My heart [comfort] and juice,

Jesus all suffering,

He is my life;

My eyes [desire] and sun,

My precious soul and bliss;

Therefore, I do not let Jesus

From the heart and face.”

Take a moment to reflect on that translation. 

“Jesu…my juice.”  My essence.  My being.  “My life.”

Powerful stuff! 

I don’t know about you, but after spending some time pondering these original lyrics, this song has now taken on a whole new depth of meaning for me and I love it even more!

Especially during this Christmas season, may our hearts and faces never stray from Jesus Christ, our Joy, as our soul rests and rejoices in Him.

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2 thoughts on “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring

  1. sarahloub

    I love that you took the time to find the origins of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” (I love it, too!). Knowing the original lyrics definitely gives it a greater depth, especially since many words in other languages have so many more connotations than they do when they are translated into English. Well done!

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