Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707): Wenn ich, Herr Jesu, habe dich (BuxWV 102)

The text of Wenn ich, Herr Jesu, habe dich(BuxWV 102) (If I have you Lord Jesus) is a devotional poetic text by Anna Sophia, Countess of Hessen-Darmstadt Buxtehude set it twice once here, as a hymn, and then again as part of his cantata Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe (BuxWV 39) .  The hymn (BuxWV 102), which is the subject of this posting is one of a number of arias that Buxtehude wrote whose texts he took from  seventeenth-century hymnals. The hymns as originally found were in a very simple style, and this very simplicity must have been part of what attracted Buxtehude to them as it meant they provided him with material that was known and loved by his audiences while simultaneously providing him with an almost clear musical canvas on which to work his musical magic. His scoring for this aria calls for two violins in addition to alto and basso continuo and the structure is interesting. There’s an introductory sinfonia, the strophe, and a a ritornello at the end of each strophe. So far so  unsurprising, the text is in the hymnals strictly strophic, and Buxtehude retained this strict strophic form which he then proceeded to adapt and ornament by disrupting the text’s flow with repetitions and melismas the effect is both charming and devout and must have greatly pleased his audiences. Enjoy :-).


Text & Translation: Wenn ich, Herr Jesu, habe dich (BuxWV 102)

Wenn ich, Herr Jesu, habe dich
Wenn ich, Herr Jesu, habe dich,
was frag ich nach dem Himmel,
wie könnten doch vergnügen mich
der schnöden Welt Getümmel?
Wenn mir gleich Leib und Seel verschmacht
und mich umfaßt die Todesnacht,
so bist du doch mein Leben.
If I have you, Lord Jesus
If I have you, Lord Jesus,
Need I ask the way to Heaven?
How then could my needs be met
By the baseness of the world?
When body and soul both languish,
And the dark night of death enfolds me,
Then are you my life.
Wie wohl muß doch dem Menschen sein,
der Jesum trägt vergraben
in seines Herzens Kämmerlein?
Der wird die Fülle haben,
dem wird es nicht an einem Gut
ermangeln, weil er Schirm und Hut
bei seinem Jesu findet.
How happy then the man
Who carries Jesus hidden,
Locked safe inside his heart?
His cup shall overflow,
Nor shall he want for anything,
For he shall find shelter and care
Within, in Jesus.
Sein Jesus wird ihm jederzeit
erzeigen Heil und Segen;
er wird mit seiner Gütigkeit
von diesen Jammerwegen
ihn führen zu dem Himmel zu
und mit erwünschter Seelenruh
in Ewigkeit erquicken.
Jesus shall always, without fail,
Salvation and blessings to him reveal;
And shall, in His goodness and mercy,
From this path of misery
Lead him onwards toward Heaven,
And with the peace his soul desires
Resurrect him for all eternity.
Ohn dich kann mir, Herr Jesu Christ,
nichts angenehmes werden,
weil sonst kein Trost zu finden ist
im Himmel noch auf Erden,
als nur bei dir; darum will ich
dich allzeit halten festiglich
und nimmermehr verlassen.
Without you, Lord Jesus Christ,
Nothing more can please me,
Since no solace is to be found
In Heaven or on earth,
Except in you; and so it is my desire
To hold fast to you eternally
And never more to leave you.
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