BWV 78 Jesu, der du meine Seele


Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity.

Poet unknown.

1. Johann Rist, verse 1 of the hymn, 1641 (Fischer-Tümpel, II, #189); 2. based freely on verse 2; 3. based on verses 3, 4, and 5; 4. based freely on verses 6 and 7; 5. based on verses 8-10; 6. based freely on verse 11; 7. verse 12, the final verse of the hymn.

10 September 1724, Leipzig.

BG 18; NBA I/21.



1. Chorus [Verse 1] (S, A, T, B)

Jesus, thou who this my spirit
Hast through thy most bitter death
From the devil's murky cavern
And that grief which plagues the soul
Forcefully brought forth to freedom
And of this hast well assured me
Through thy most endearing word,
Be e'en now, O God, my shield! 

2. Aria (S, A)

We hasten with failing, with diligent paces,

O Jesus, O master, to thee for thy help.
Thou seekest the ailing and erring most faithful,
Ah, hearken, as we
Our voices are raising to beg thee for succor!
Let on us thy countenance smile ever gracious! 

3. Recit. (T)

Ah! I am a child of error,
Ah! I wander far and wide.(1)
The rash(2) of error which o'er me is coursing,
Leaves me no peace in these my mortal days.
My will attends alone to evil.
My soul, though, saith: ah, who will yet redeem me?
But both flesh and blood to conquer,
And bring goodness to fulfillment,(3)
Surpasseth all my power and strength.(4)
Though I my error would not bury,
Yet I cannot my many failures number.
Therefore, I take of sin the grief and pain
And all my sorrow's burden,
Which would be past my pow'r to carry:
I yield them to thee, Jesus, with a sigh.
Reckon not the sinful deed,
Which, O Lord, hath angered thee!(5) 

4. Aria (T)

That blood which doth my guilt annul,
It makes my heart feel light again
And sets me free.
Should hell's own host call me to battle,
Yet Jesus will stand firm beside me,
That I take heart and vict'ry gain. 

5. Recit. (B)

The wounding, nailing, crown and grave,
The beating, which were there the Savior giv'n
For him are now the signs of triumph
And can endow me with new strength and power.
Whene'er an awful judgment seat
A curse upon the damned doth speak,
Thou changest it to blessing.
There is no grief nor any pain to stir me,
For them my Savior knows;
And as thy heart for me with love doth burn,
So I in turn would offer
Whate'er I own before thee.
This my heart, with grief acquainted,
Which thy precious blood hath quickened,
Shed upon the cross by thee,
I give thee, Lord Jesus Christ.(6) 

6. Aria (B)

Now thou wilt this my conscience quiet
Which gainst my will for vengeance cries;
Yea, thine own faithfulness will fill it,
Because thy word bids me have hope.
When Christian folk shall trust thee,
No foe in all eternity
From thine embrace shall steal them. 

7. Chorale [Verse 12] (S, A, T, B)

Lord, I trust thee, help my weakness,
Let me, yea, not know despair;
Thou, thou canst my strength make firmer
When by sin and death I'm vexed.
Thy great goodness I'll be trusting
'Til that day I see with gladness
Thee, Lord Jesus, battle done,
In that sweet eternity.



1. This and the preceding line are verbatim from verse 3.

2. Aussatz 'rash' is any kind of skin disease, such as leprosy, eczema, or boils.

3. This and the preceding line are verbatim from verse 4.

4. Cf. Rom. 7:18 and 24.

5. This and the preceding line are verbatim from verse 5. Cf. Martin Luther, verse 1 of "Mitten wir im Leben" (Wackernagel, III, #12).

6. The last four lines of this movement are verbatim from verse 10.


© Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose


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