About this work
One of the miscellaneous chorales of Bach which were transmitted by his students, Liebster Jesu (Dearest Jesus) was likely composed sometime before Bach moved to Weimar in 1708, but it anticipated the skillful contrapuntal weaving and musical symbolism displayed in the later Orgelbüchlein.
The beginning of this 4-part chorale resembles that of another setting of the same tune (BWV 730), but the thicker texture and the melismatic treatment of the tune in 731 poses greater technical difficulty for the performer. The rich ornamentation embodies the sweet, heavenly teachings described in the chorale text. The melody sounds in the soprano for this short, exquisite piece, and its careful figurations show a mastery of the intricate, independent part-writing which is a hallmark of contrapuntal composition.