A Moment of Peace for These Times: Watch Anthony Glise Perform Bach’s ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring’

Whether you celebrate Easter or not, this seems like a good time to be soothed by a lovely version of J.S. Bach’s immortal Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring—or in the German, Jesus blelibet meine Freude, BWV 147; written in 1723 as part of a cantata, it has its origins in a melody written in 1641 by Johann Schop called Werde munter, mein Gemüte.

This version, just posted to YouTube April 11, is performed by by the outstanding American guitarist, composer, scholar, and teacher Anthony Glise (see our interview in the Fall 2017  issue of Classical Guitar), in Northern France, where he is riding out the current pandemic (and where he teaches his wonderful annual summer workshop, called Red Socks and the Guitar).

The ever thoughtful and erudite Mr. Glise offers his thoughts on his selection of this piece:


“While in lockdown here in N. France, I wanted to offer individuals and churches these videos that may be helpful to their online services or home worship. I will try to post one per week for each Sunday service. Please feel free to use these as you can. (Not great production, but perhaps helpful).

“A bit more theological: As our Jewish brothers and sisters celebrate Passover, this moment in history is not unlike the first Passover in Exodus 12: 12 when the enslaved Israelites were commanded to mark their doors with blood and stay in their homes so the angel of death would pass them by.

“For Christians, now at Easter, we will celebrate Jesus’ resurrection but prior to that moment (immediately after the crucifixion) the disciples hid from the authorities behind locked doors (John 20:19). Both these Abrahamic Faiths were ‘in lockdown.’ They did it then; we can do it now.”    —Blair Jackson