Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
Jesu, joy of man’s desiring, holy wisdom, love most bright;
Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring, soar to uncreated light.
Word of God, our flesh that fashioned,
With the fire of life impassioned;
Striving still to truth unknown,
Soaring, dying,’ round Thy throne.
Would you be surprised to learn that the original melody of this hymn, a tune often used at weddings, was not written by J.S. Bach, to whom it is usually attributed? According to Robert J. Morgan in his book, “Then Sings My Soul- Book 2”, it was another Johann – a German musician named Johann Schop, who actually composed the melody. The words were written by Martin Janus, an evangelical pastor in Silesia. Johann Schop, born in 1590, was a musical prodigy who became one of 17th century Europe’s most famous composers, conductors and performers.
Johann Sebastian Bach later “borrowed” the melody and rearranged it. It was first performed publicly in 1723 as the final choral selection in one of his cantatas. The song is not often sung by congregations, but we do hear instrumental versions more frequently.