In dulci jubilo

Johann Sebastian Bach

In dulci jubilo


About this work

Bach wrote several settings of In dulci jubilo (Rejoice, Even in Tribulation), including two other organ works, one in the Orgelbüchlein, BWV 608, the other, also a chorale prelude, BWV 739. The chorale prelude known as "BWV 751" was assigned that number in the nineteenth-century, based on an manuscript copy made in the 1730s by Johann Gottlieb Preller which ascribes this prelude to "di Bach." Since 1893, when BWV first appeared in print, some scholars suggested that this work was more stylistically consistent with Johann Michael Bach rather than his famous nephew, Johann Sebastian. The discovery of the piece among the so-called "Neumeister Chorales" in the 1980s revealed once and for all that this chorale is indeed by Johann Michael Bach.

In dulci jubilo divulges Italian characteristics, particularly in that ethnic tradition's pastoral manner. The main theme is treated jovially, almost humorously, as it seems to dance along to the tart drone of the pedal. It is joyous and catchy music, to be sure, not out of Johann Sebastian Bach's wide expressive range, but sounding a bit too nonchalant, almost zany, to be the work of this master. The music in this minute-and-a-half piece is refreshingly imaginative in its playful character and colorful keyboard writing. In sum, this is probably not the product of the most famous of Bachs, but its infectious charm will find favor among organ and Baroque music mavens alike.