Cantata BWV 147 'Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben' (includes 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring')
Johann Sebastian Bach


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An iconic choral work goes up 41 in this year's chart

If we translate the title of the most popular section of Bach's cantata a little more accurately than the now ubiquitous English version we know, it comes out something like 'Jesus remains my joy, my heart's comfort and essence', rather than 'Jesu, joy of man's desiring'.

Indeed, the rest of the translation bears precious little relation to the actual German text, written by the lawyer and poet Salomo Franck. Accuracy of words aside, this exquisite movement choral interludes between that divine, undulating melody might be best seen as a mere key to unlocking the rest of the cantata, entitled 'Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben' (which translates as 'heart and mouth and deed and life').

19th century steel engraving of Jesus Christ.