I am grateful for those who have given me texts and asked me to re-write their melodies. Jesus, My Joy, is one of these songs and I think it is most likely my favorite on the album.
In the hymnbooks you will find this listed as Jesus, Priceless Treasure. However, it was written in German and the German title is Jesu, Meine Freude (Jesus, My Joy). The English translation had some problematic lines like “foes who would molest me” that needed updating, so it was fun to look at the non-poetic translations of the German to aid me in rewriting. In the end I stayed close to the English version, but I would encourage folks to read one or two translations of the German- there are great depths there.
In looking at the German text, I realized this was set as a motet by Bach. Given how much I love Bach, I was a little reticent to change his work- however, I consoled myself with the fact that he didn’t actually write the melody.
To our modern American sensibilities, the prior melody is rather dour and plodding. In many ways this may be our problem more than the melody’s- we don’t know how to sing the melody beautifully or how to enjoy it. It just isn’t what is familiar to us. Search for the motet on YouTube and you’ll find some lovely recordings. I was thinking this morning that it could also be lovely sung in the style of My Own Home from The Jungle Book. 🙂 But I digress.
After all that, I think it was helpful to write a new melody for this song, as it communicates (I hope!) treasuring Christ in a modern music vocabulary, in a way that speaks to our hearts. I could tell you about how I wrote the new melody, how I think it reflects the words, but I’d rather say that it has given me a new avenue to express delight in Christ. In the end, I think much of our lives is about finding new ways to realize, express and remember the beauty of God and his sufficiency for us. Sometimes this is through old things, and sometimes it is through new things.
In all things let us say “Yours I am, O perfect Lamb- I’ll let nothing hide you, ask for nothing beside you.”
Jesus My Joy
Jesus joy of my heart, source of true life you are,
Truest friend to me
Long I have been waiting, long my soul’s been seeking,
Thirsting after you
Yours I am, O perfect Lamb, I’ll let nothing hide you,
Ask for nothing beside you
In your strength I’m resting, enemies though pressing,
Cannot reach me here
Though the earth be shaking, every heart be breaking,
God is with us here
Though hell’s scare and sin’s despair, with their heaviest storms assail us,
Jesus will not fail us
Banished is our sadness, for the Lord of Gladness,
Jesus enters in!
Those who love the Father, though the storms may gather,
Still have peace within
Yes, whatever we here must bear, still in you lies truest pleasure,
Jesus priceless treasure
Jesus joy of my heart, source of true life,
Source of true life, you are