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Episode 1738             Episode 1740
Episode 1739

Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 227
Mon, 2022-Feb-07 00:35 UTC
Length - 4:06

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Welcome to featured Wiki of the Day where we read the summary of the featured Wikipedia article every day.

The featured article for Monday, 7 February 2022 is Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 227.

Jesu, meine Freude (Jesus, my joy), BWV 227, is a motet by Johann Sebastian Bach. The longest and most musically complex of Bach's motets, it is set in eleven movements for up to five voices. It is named after the Lutheran hymn "Jesu, meine Freude" with words by Johann Franck, first published in 1653. The motet contains the six stanzas of the hymn in its odd-numbered movements. The hymn tune by Johann Crüger appears in all of these movements in different styles of chorale settings. The text of the motet's even-numbered movements is taken from the Epistle to the Romans, a passage which influenced key Lutheran teachings. The hymn, written in the first person with a focus on an emotional bond with Jesus, forms a contrasting expansion of the doctrinal biblical text. Bach set both texts alternating with and complementing each other, in a structure of symmetries on different layers.

Bach's treatment of Crüger's melody ranges from four-part chorale harmonisations that begin and end the work, to a chorale fantasia and a free setting that quotes only motifs of the hymn tune. Four biblical verses are set in the style of a motet, two for five voices and two for three voices. The central movement is a five-part fugue. Bach used word painting to intensify the theological meaning of both hymn and Epistle texts.

Jesu, meine Freude is one of few works by Bach for five vocal parts. The dating of the work is uncertain. It was supposed to have been written for a specific funeral in Leipzig in July 1723, a few months after Bach had moved there, as a scholar proposed in 1912. Since the 1990s, musicologists have come to doubt this, because the order of that funeral was found and shows no reference to music by Bach. At least one of the eleven movements seems to have been composed before Bach's tenure in Leipzig. The Bach scholar Christoph Wolff suggested that Bach may have composed and compiled the motet for the education of his choir in both composition techniques and theology. Chorale settings from the motet are included in the Dietel manuscript from around 1735, providing a latest dating of the work.

Unique in its complex symmetrical structure juxtaposing hymn and biblical texts, and with movements featuring a variety of styles and vocal textures, the motet has been regarded as one of Bach's greatest achievements in the genre. In 1927, it became the first of his motets to be recorded. The work has often been performed and recorded with a range of approaches, from unaccompanied singing to historically informed performances that take into account instrumental colla parte and continuo playing as was the custom in Bach's time.

This recording reflects the Wikipedia text as of 00:35 UTC on Monday, 7 February 2022.

For the full current version of the article, see Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 227 on Wikipedia.

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