The earliest of the six motets is probably the five part setting of Jesu, meine Freude
, written, it has been suggested, for the funeral service of the wife of the Leipzig postmaster, Johanna Maria Kees, on 18 July 1723. It is also by far the longest and the most complex in its layout. It uses the popular chorale by the poet Johann Franck and the composer Johann Crüger, first published in 1653, but with free passages, added between the six verses, setting words from Romans 8, verses 1, 2, 9, 10 and 11. The result is an ingenious symmetrical structure, typical of the mature Bach. The eleven movements are of three types: settings of the choral tune and text (nos 1, 3, 7, 11), free settings of the chorale text (nos 5 and 9), and settings of the added text (nos 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10). They are grouped around the fugue no 6; nos 1 and 11 use the same music; nos 2 and 10 have material in common; and nos 3–5, a chorale, a trio and a free aria like movement, have their counterparts in nos 7–9.
from notes by Peter Holman © 1990