The eight-part Komm, Jesu, komm!
is steeped in seventeenth-century tradition. The text, a paraphrase of John 14, verse 6 (‘I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me’) was written by the Leipzig poet Paul Thymich, and was originally set by Johann Schelle, a predecessor of Bach at St Thomas’s, for the funeral of Rector Jakob Thomasius on 14 September 1684; the occasion for which Bach set the text is not known. Schelle’s work, a simple aria, was later published, and it was probably from this source that Bach took the text, though the settings are unrelated. Bach uses the first and last verses of Thymich’s poem; the first is set in the traditional polychoral motet style, with several changes of time and pace; the second is headed ‘Aria’ and is a simple four-part setting of a minuet-like melody that seems to be by Bach himself—it is not unlike his best-known chorale, ‘Dir, dir, Jehova, will ich singen’.
from notes by Peter Holman © 1990