1 Jesus, priceless treasure,
source of purest pleasure,
friend most sure and true:
long my heart was burning,
fainting much and yearning,
thirsting, Lord, for you.
Yours I am, O spotless Lamb,
so will I let nothing hide you,
seek no joy beside you!
2 Let your arms enfold me:
those who try to wound me
cannot reach me here.
Though the earth be shaking,
every heart be quaking,
Jesus calms my fear.
Fires may flash and thunder crash;
yea, though sin and hell assail me,
Jesus will not fail me.
3 Hence, all worldly treasure!
Jesus is my pleasure,
Jesus is my choice.
Hence, all empty glory!
What to me your story
told with tempting voice?
Pain or loss or shame or cross
shall not from my Savior move me,
since he chose to love me.
4 Banish thoughts of sadness,
for the Lord of gladness,
Jesus, enters in;
though the clouds may gather,
those who love the Savior
still have peace within.
Though I bear much sorrow here,
still in you lies purest pleasure,
Jesus, priceless treasure!
Psalter Hymnal, 1987
|First Line:||Jesus, priceless treasure|
|Title:||Jesus, Priceless Treasure|
|German Title:||Jesu, meine Freude|
|Author:||Johann Franck (1653)|
|Liturgical Use:||Scripture Songs|
st. 1 = Matt. 13:44-46, John 15:1-4
st. 3 = Ps. 73:25, Phil. 3:8
The original German text “Jesu, meine Freude” by Johann Franck (PHH 305) first appeared in Johann Crüger's Praxis Pietatis Melica (1653) in six long stanzas. The text was modeled in part after a love song found in Heinrich Albert's Arein (1641), "Flora, meine Freude, meiner Seele Weide."
Catherine Winkworth (PHH 194) translated the text into English and published it in her Chorale Book for England (1863). Our version includes the original stanzas 1, 2, 4, and 6. Much loved by Christians from various traditions, “Jesus, Priceless Treasure” is one of the finest examples of German piety in a devotional hymn. The intensity of emotional expression found here provides a suitable counter¬ balance to the cerebral character of much Reformed worship.
Inspired by Jesus' parables of the great treasure and fine pearl (Matt. 13:44-46) and other New Testament references to the metaphor "treasure," this text is strongly Christocentric. Stanza 1 confesses with mystical ecstasy that Christ is the source of purest pleasure (a bold affirmation that counters the hedonism of this world). Stanza 2 expands the metaphor: Christ our treasure is also our fortress, our defense and protector from the "sin and hell" that would "assail" us. Stanza 3 contrasts the eternal pleasures of knowing Jesus with the "empty" delights of this world. And stanza 4 affirms that, despite the fears and sorrow we must bear, Jesus remains our greatest treasure and source of profound joy.
As a hymn of devotion and trust and a testimony of our joyous commitment to Christ amid the temptations of contemporary life; after Lord's Supper; profession of faith.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook
This hymn was translated by Catherine Winkworth from a German text by Johann Franck. He patterned the meter and the first two lines of his text on an earlier, secular love song, “Flora, meine Freude, meine Seele Weide,” by Heinrich Albert. This song had only one stanza and was published in 1641 in Albert's Arien, part 4.
Franck's original text had six stanzas, and Winkworth translated all but the third in her Chorale Book for England, which appeared in 1863. Most hymnals include at least stanzas 1, 2, and 6 of the original, with a few including all six. There is a fair amount of variance between hymnals on the wording of various lines. Most of these alterations do not significantly affect the meaning of the text.
The theme of the text is a pietistic devotion to Jesus Christ. Different stanzas focus on the aspects of this theme, describing Jesus as the source of our greatest joy and love, as our refuge, and as a treasure of greater value than all the wealth and glory the world can offer. The suffering of life in a broken world is acknowledged, but Jesus is declared to be worth it all.
Johann Crüger is the composer of this well-known chorale tune, JESU, MEINE FREUDE. It was composed for and named after Franck's text, and first appeared with it in Crüger's Praxis Pietatis Melica, published in Berlin in 1653.
J. S. Bach used this chorale in several of his works, including his famous motet for five singers (BWV 227). The text of the eleven movements of the motet was the six stanzas of this hymn plus selections from Romans 8. Many hymnals use Bach's harmonization from the first and last chorale movements of this motet as a setting for this hymn.
This hymn may have been inspired by the Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of Great Value in Matthew 13:44-46, and may be sung for services on this theme. Like other well-known German chorales, this tune is popular with organ arrangers. “Voluntaries for Worship” contains an organ setting of JESU, MEINE FREUDE based on Bach's setting of the fifth stanza from his motet, “Jesu, meine Freude.” Other ornamented settings of the tune for organ by well-known arrangers Michael Burkhardt and Paul Manz can be found in the collections “Thine the Glory” and “Improvisations on Classic Chorales.”
Tiffany Shomsky, Hymnary.org