Jesu, meine Freude

Johann Sebastian Bach

Jesu, meine Freude

BWV713

About this work

This work likely dates to Bach's years in Weimar and was probably composed around the time he wrote another chorale fantasia, "Christ lag in Todes Banden" (Christ lay in the bonds of death). This one, "Jesu, meine Freude" (Jesus, my joy), is the grander of the two efforts, the music depicting the Nativity of Christ and possibly foreshadowing the Passion and death. The work is divided into two parts, the first exhibiting some of Bach's finest and liveliest fugal writing for keyboard, and the latter turns emotionally warmer, the tempo slower and the mood gradually exhibiting a darker sense. This brilliant fantasia opens with the chorale theme played in single notes, seeming almost to playfully hop about. Soon, it takes on contrapuntal features and the music sprouts much inner detail. As with many Bach keyboard works, there are many voices at work here, the whole seeming to proclaim a sense of joy. Just past the midpoint, the music suddenly turns serene and tender. While it maintains a relatively tranquil manner alongside the joy from the first half, it comes across as a portent of the aforementioned Passion. Still, the mood of the work is generally joyous, or at least peaceful and serene. This Chorale fantasia typically has a duration of four minutes.

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