Bach’s trombones

In God’s Trombones, James Weldon Johnson names the trombone as “the instrument possessing above all others the power to express the wide and varied range of emotions encompassed by the human voice — and with greater amplitude.”

Today I found a trombone quintet reading through “Jesu, meine Freude” (Jesus, Priceless Treasure), a hymn tune composed by Jo­hann Crüger in 1653 and harmonized by J.S. Bach in 1723.  Though this is an instrumental version, I’ll include the words that are most familiar to me.  Catherine Winkworth’s translation of the original German has often been tweaked and modernized, so that now you can find quite a few variations.  I’ve always liked the reference to Psalm 42 in this one, the idea of “fell conflict” and the phrase “Lord of gladness.”


Jesus, priceless treasure,
Source of purest pleasure,
Truest friend to me;
Long my heart hath panted,
Till it well-nigh fainted,
Thirsting after Thee.
Thine I am, O spotless Lamb,
I will suffer naught to hide Thee,
Ask for naught beside Thee.

In Thine arms I rest me;
Foes who would oppress me
Cannot reach me here.
Though the earth be shaking,
Every heart be quaking,
Jesus dispels our fear;
Sin and hell in conflict fell
With their heaviest storms assail us:
Jesus will not fail us.

Hence, all thoughts of sadness!
For the Lord of gladness,
Jesus, enters in:
Those who love the Father,
Though the storms may gather,
Still have peace within;
Yea, whate’er we here must bear,
Still in Thee lies purest pleasure,
Jesus, priceless treasure!



One comment

  1. Bob says:

    These are good words to start the day and the trombones aid

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