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Jesu, der du meine Seele, BWV 78

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Title: Jesu, der du meine Seele, BWV 78  
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Subject: Chorale cantata (Bach), Church cantata (Bach), Violin Concerto movement, BWV 1045, Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust, BWV 170, Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut, BWV 199
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Jesu, der du meine Seele, BWV 78

Jesu, der du meine Seele
BWV 78
Chorale cantata by J. S. Bach
Johann Rist, the author of the hymn
Occasion 14th Sunday after Trinity
Performed 10 September 1724 (1724-09-10) – Leipzig
Movements 7
Cantata text anonymous
Chorale by Johann Rist
Vocal SATB choir and solo

Jesu, der du meine Seele (Jesus, You, who my soul),[1] 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 Rist.


  • History and words 1
  • Scoring and structure 2
  • Music 3
  • Recordings 4
  • References 5
  • Sources 6

History and words

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.[2] 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 3–5, 4 to 6–7, and 5 to 8–10.[3]

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 5:16–24), and from the Gospel of Luke, Cleansing ten lepers (Luke 17:11–19).[3] 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).[3]

Scoring and structure

The cantata in seven movements is scored for horn in the opening chorus.

  1. Chorale: Jesu, der du meine Seele
  2. Duet aria (soprano, alto): Wir eilen mit schwachen, doch emsigen Schritten
  3. Recitative (tenor): Ach! ich bin ein Kind der Sünden
  4. Aria (tenor, flute): Das Blut, so meine Schuld durchstreicht
  5. Recitative (bass, strings): Die Wunden, Nägel, Kron und Grab
  6. Aria (bass, oboe): Nur du wirst mein Gewissen stillen
  7. Chorale: Herr, ich glaube, hilf mir Schwachen


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.[4]

The opening chorus is a chorale fantasia in the form of a 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.

The duet for soprano and alto speaks of rushing steps, shown predominantly in the figures of the continuo of celli, violone and organ. The recitative begins secco, but ends in an arioso on words of the original chorale. The aria is accompanied by flute motifs to express the relief of the heart.

The recitative for bass with strings is reminiscent of the vox Christi (voice of Christ) in Bach's Passions, marked with unusual precision: vivace, adagio, andante, con ardore. Bach achieves a dramatic impact, intensified by leaps in the vocal line. The last aria is similar to a concerto for oboe and the bass voice.

The closing chorale sets the original tune in four parts.[3]



  1. ^  
  2. ^ "Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works Jesu, der du meine Seele". 2006. Retrieved 1 September 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d  
  4. ^ Bischof, Walter F. "BWV 78 Jesu, der du meine Seele".  


  • Jesu, der du meine Seele, BWV 78: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
  • Jesu, der du meine Seele BWV 78; BC A 130 / Chorale cantata Leipzig University
  • Cantata BWV 78 Jesu, der du meine Seele history, scoring, sources for text and music, translations to various languages, discography, discussion, bach-cantatas website
  • Jesu, der du meine Seele history, scoring, Bach website (German)
  • BWV 78 Jesu, der du meine Seele English translation, University of Vermont
  • Chapter Chapter 14 BWV 78 Jesu, der du meine Seele / Jesus, who has rent my soul. Julian Mincham, 2010

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