O Jesu Christe, wahres Licht

Meter: 8.8. 8.8.
Proper Text: Lord Jesus Christ, My Life, My Light (O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht)

Zahn No. 535

Associated Texts

This tune first appeared in the Nürnbergisches Gesangbuch, 1676/7, p. 1162, where it was joined to Martin Behm’s 1610 text “Lord Jesus Christ, My Life, My Light (O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht),” and was in quadruple meter. Modern hymnals trace the tune to Andächtige Haus-Kirche, Nürnberg, 1676, but this work is known by Zahn and is not cited as a source for this tune. Johannes Zahn adapted the tune into its present triple-meter form. In Zahn’s works, this tune is named “Herr Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht,” for the Behm text, and a 1625 tune joined to the same text in earlier hymnals is called “O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht” (Zahn No. 533a), after a slightly different form of the same text.

Some confusion arises from the fact that Friedrich Layriz and the hymnals that followed him, including The Lutheran Hymnal of 1941, reversed this practice, calling the present tune “O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht,” and the 1625 tune “Herr Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht.” The confusion is much alleviated by the practice of modern hymnals, including Lutheran Worship and the Lutheran Service Book, of calling the present tune “O Jesu Christe, wahres Licht,” after a 1630 text by Johann Heermann, and the 1625 tune “Herr Jesu Christ, meins,” after the Behm text.