This is not a hymn in the sense of hymns that we sing in our churches now. However, when I recently listened to “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” I was inspired to look up the lyrics. I wish I had done so earlier – they are so rich with meaning.
There are actually two sets of lyrics. One in English, and the other in German. The two differ greatly from each other, but both are well worth considering.
An English translation of the German lyrics: (taken from Wikipedia)
Well for me that I have Jesus,
O how strong I hold to him
that he might refresh my heart,
when sick and sad am I.
Jesus have I, who loves me
and gives to me his own,
ah, therefore I will not leave Jesus,
when I feel my heart is breaking.
Jesus remains my joy,
my heart’s comfort and essence,
Jesus resists all suffering,
He is my life’s strength,
my eye’s desire and sun,
my soul’s love and joy;
so will I not leave Jesus
out of heart and face.
The English version written by Robert Bridges (taken from Wikipedia)
Jesu, joy of man’s desiring,
Holy wisdom, love most bright;
Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light.
Word of God, our flesh that fashioned,
With the fire of life impassioned,
Striving still to truth unknown,
Soaring, dying round Thy throne.
Through the way where hope is guiding,
Hark, what peaceful music rings;
Where the flock, in Thee confiding,
Drink of joy from deathless springs.
Theirs is beauty’s fairest pleasure;
Theirs is wisdom’s holiest treasure.
Thou dost ever lead Thine own
In the love of joys unknown.
Here is a beautiful rendition of this song performed by the U.S. Air Force at the Smithsonian.
Did you know this song had lyrics?