"Ye are not of the flesh, but of the Spirit, if in your heart the Spirit abideth. If Jesu's Spirit be not yours, ye are not His." Romans 8:9.
This is one of the occasions on which the original German of BWV 227, "Jesu Meine Freude," translates very well to English. This particular edition is published with English text only, as the original German is available elsewhere.
Bach is probably best known today for writing fugues. Perhaps he was the best ever at it, perhaps he elevated it to an unprecedented realm, perhaps he just managed to pack so much into a fugue that it was almost overwhelming. Whatever the reason, Bach fugues are really something special. In this one, he expounds on the text, bringing forth subject and answer, second theme and answer, and then mixing the stew thoroughly and adding pedal point approaching the ritard.
It is interesting to listen to Bach while reading a score, as you keep finding neat new things in his works. In this fugue, for example, the altos have a couple of very slick synchopated sections, and the tenors do some truly amazing acrobatics to keep part motion up to Bach's standards. The second soprano part is also intersting because it keeps emerging as the lead line, that is, once it gets started in the twelfth measure.
The adagio chorale is notable for its use of connecting lines where one after another part will solo while the rest of the choir rests between phrases. It is quite expressive, and produces an amazing effect if performed thoughtfully.
Unfortunately, this particular item will scarcely stand on its own. If the adagio chorale is lopped off, the fugue ends reasonably well, but that leaves the verse unfinished. If the chorale is performed, one needs to segue to one of the hymn tune chorales from BWV 227 (also sold on this site) to avoid leaving the listeners hanging. For a solution, see this piece.
This is a most amazing piece, and a very memorable sing for any skilled choir.
MP3 sound sample: Minnehaha Academy Singers, 1977
YE ARE NOT OF THE FLESH (BWV 227 No. VI) by J. S. Bach, for SSATB choir, a cappella, comes in a PDF file of 1192K that contains ten pages of complete score and license page, eleven pages in all. Performance time should be a little over three minutes.
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Last update: 3 February 2020