Jesu, der du meine Seele (Jesus, You, who my soul), BWV
78, is a church cantata of Johann Sebastian Bach. He
composed the chorale cantata in Leipzig for the 14th
Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 10
September 1724. It is based on the hymn by Johann
Bach wrote the cantata in his second year in Leipzig,
when he composed an annual cycle of chorale cantatas.
For the 14th Sunday after Trinity, 10 September 1724,
he chose the chorale of Johann Rist (1641) in 12
stanzas. Rist set the words and probably also the
melody. An unknown librettist wrote the poetry for
seven movements, keeping the first and last stanza and
quoting some of the original lines as part of his own
writing in the other movements. Movement 2 corresponds
to stanza 2 of the chorale, 6 to 11, 3 to 35, 4 to
67, and 5 to 810.
The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from the
Epistle to the Galatians, Paul's teaching on "works of
the flesh" and "fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians
5:1624), and from the Gospel of Luke, Cleansing ten
lepers (Luke 17:1119). The chorale seems only
distantly related, dealing with the Passion of Jesus,
which cleanses the believer. The poet refers to
sickness and healing in a few lines, more than the
chorale does, such as "Du suchst die Kranken" (you
search for the sick).
The cantata is remarkable for its widely contrasting
affects: meditative profundity in the opening chorus,
nearly joyful though hesitant bouncing in the second
movement, and despair in the third.
The opening chorus "Jesu, der du meine Seele" (Jesus,
You, who my soul) is a chorale fantasia in the form of
a passacaglia. The theme, known as passus duriusculus
or chromatic fourth, appears 27 times, sometimes
reversed, sometimes in different keys. It was already
known before Bach, who used it first in movement 5 of
his early cantata for Easter Christ lag in Todes
Banden, BWV 4, and notably in Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen,
Zagen, BWV 12, which was a model for the Crucifixus of
his Mass in B minor. The soprano has the cantus firmus,
the other part expresses the meaning of the words in
polyphony on a variety of motifs.
Although originally scored for soprano, alto, tenor and
bass soloists, a four-part choir, flauto traverso, two
oboes, two violins, viola, violone and basso continuo
including organ and horn in the opening chorus, I
created this arrangement for Winds (Bb Trumpet, 2
Flutes, 2 Oboes, Bb Clarinet, French Horn & Bassoon)
and Strings (2 Violins, Viloa & Cello).