Nur jedem das Seine, BWV 163

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Nur jedem das Seine (To each only his due), BWV 163, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Weimar for the twenty-third Sunday after Trinity and first performed it 24 November 1715.

History and text[edit]

Bach composed the cantata in 1715 in Weimar for the twenty-third Sunday after Trinity. The prescribed readings for the day were from the Epistle to the Philippians (Philippians 3:17–21), and from the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 22:15–22). The librettist for movements 1–5 was Salomon Franck, who included the final stanza of Johann Heermann's hymn "Wo soll ich fliehen hin" (1630) as the last movement of this cantata.[1]

Scoring and structure[edit]

The work is scored for four vocal soloists (soprano, alto, tenor, and bass), four-part choir, two violins, viola, two cellos, and basso continuo.[2]

The piece has six movements:

  1. Aria (tenor): Nur jedem das Seine
  2. Recitative (bass): Du bist, mein Gott, der Geber aller Gaben
  3. Aria (bass): Lass mein Herz die Münze sein
  4. Duet recitative (soprano and alto): Ich wollte dir
  5. Duet aria (soprano and alto): Nimm mich mir und gib mich dir
  6. Chorale: Führ auch mein Herz und Sinn


The opening aria features an unusual ritornello in which the strings assume a motif introduced by the continuo, which is then repeated several times through all parts. The movement is a da capo aria emphasizing dualism and debt.[3] Craig Smith remarks that it is "almost academic in its metrical insistence".[4]

The second movement is a secco bass recitative, "operatic in its intensity and subtle adjustments of character". The recitative is remarkable for its "aggressive, even belligerent" conclusion.[3]

The bass aria has an unusual accompaniment of two obbligato cellos with continuo. The cellos present an imitative motif to introduce the bass.[3] This dark texture is "very like the descent into the earth in Wagner's Das Rheingold".[4] The aria is in three thematic sections: "enjoining", "melodramatically rhetoric", and "imprecatory".[3]

The fourth movement is a soprano and alto duet recitative. It is rhythmically metrical and presents five sections based on mood and text.[3] The recitative is "high and light but very complicated in its myriad of detail".[4]

The duet aria is a "love duet" characterized by "antiphonal avowals of commitment" to God rather than a carnal desire. Musicologist Julian Mincham compares its presentation to Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea. The movement begins with sparse scoring and becomes more richly textured as it progresses, adding the chorale text.[3]

The final movement is a four-part setting of the chorale tune. However, only the bass line is extant.[3]



  1. ^ "Cantata BWV 163 Nur jedem das Seine! Nur jedem das Seine!". Bach Cantatas. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  2. ^ "BWV 163". University of Alberta. Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Mincham, Julian. "Chapter 25 BWV 163". jsbachcantatas. Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c Smith, Craig. "BWV 163". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 4 June 2013. 

External links[edit]