“There’s nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.” Johann Sebastian Bach
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” recognized simply as “Joy,” has been played at weddings and funerals, graduations and special milestones and events. Without question, it is one of the most popular and well-known pieces of music.
I always understood that it was J.S. Bach who creative the melody. Today, I found out that Johan Schop came before J.S.Bach. In 1642, he published the melody with Johann Rist’s hymn text “Wach auf, mein Geist, erhebe dich” (“Wake, My Spirit, Rise”).
J.S. Bach created his ‘Joy’ in 1723 for four solo vocalists, a four-part choir, and an instrumental ensemble of trumpet, two oboes, violin, viola, and continuo. But the name “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” came in 1926 when Dame Myra Hess published a transcription for solo piano.
This was the first time that I had heard of Dame Myra Hess, which is a testament to the narratives held safe in the folds of history. There are treasures to be found when looking back into the mists of time.
Myra Hess was bold as well as innovative. During WWII, when London concert halls were blacked out at night to avoid being a target for bombing, she decided that lunchtime would be a more appropriate time to hold musical events. She organized almost 2,000 “lunchtime concerts” which started in The Blitz.
This is your invitation to join my brother, Brian, and me in celebrating the arrival of spring with “Joy” from J.S. Bach.