Patterico's Pontifications


Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 45

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 7:00 am

The title of the cantata is “Es ist dir gesagt, Mensch, was gut ist” (It has been told to you, man, what is good).

Today’s Gospel reading is Matthew 25:14-30, the parable of the bags of gold:

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

“‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

It sounds pretty harsh at first blush. But the message, I think, is that God has entrusted you with certain wealth — talents, skills, and resources — and you should use them fruitfully, rather than be resentful of the one who entrusted you with these gifts, and do nothing with them. While Bach did not write a cantata that relates directly to this Gospel passage, the text of today’s cantata (available here) has passages that sound the same theme, such as this, the text that accompanies the final chorale melody:

Grant that I do diligently
what you have set for me to do,

which Your command directs
for me in my condition!
Grant that I do it quickly,
at the time that I should;
and when I do it, then grant
that it succeed!

The chorale used in the cantata is based on a melody by Ahasverus Fritsch: O Gott, du Frommer Gott, played on the piano here:

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

46 Responses to “Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 45”

  1. The Parable of the Talents is an excellent thematic lesson for the Multitudes.

    Ben burn (03656a)

  2. Music has charms not only to sooth the savage breast…but also to help folks on opposites sides of viewing President Trump that they are still united in their love of timeless music. Thanks for posting.

    Revive classical music – bring Johan Sebastian Bach !

    Bill Saracino (ad0096)

  3. Speaking of Bach, Mel Tillis has passed away.

    harkin (a9a478)

  4. I have always preferred “garner where [] have not winnowed”, being very familiar with the process, whether involving threshing floors and pitchforks or diesel-powered combines, although “gather where [] have not strewn” is probably the best translation.

    nk (dbc370)

  5. I was thinking about a Psalm and my Bible fell open to to this.

    The LORD Implored to Avenge His People.

    1O LORD, God of vengeance,
    God of vengeance, shine forth!

    2Rise up, O Judge of the earth,
    Render recompense to the proud.

    3How long shall the wicked, O LORD,
    How long shall the wicked exult?

    4They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly;
    All who do wickedness vaunt themselves.

    5They crush Your people, O LORD,
    And afflict Your heritage.

    6They slay the widow and the stranger
    And murder the orphans.

    7They have said, “The LORD does not see,
    Nor does the God of Jacob pay heed.”

    8Pay heed, you senseless among the people;
    And when will you understand, stupid ones?

    9He who planted the ear, does He not hear?
    He who formed the eye, does He not see?

    10He who chastens the nations, will He not rebuke,
    Even He who teaches man knowledge?

    11The LORD knows the thoughts of man,
    That they are a mere breath.

    12Blessed is the man whom You chasten, O LORD,
    And whom You teach out of Your law;

    13That You may grant him relief from the days of adversity,
    Until a pit is dug for the wicked.

    14For the LORD will not abandon His people,
    Nor will He forsake His inheritance.

    15For judgment will again be righteous,
    And all the upright in heart will follow it.

    16Who will stand up for me against evildoers?
    Who will take his stand for me against those who do wickedness?

    17If the LORD had not been my help,
    My soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence.

    18If I should say, “My foot has slipped,”
    Your lovingkindness, O LORD, will hold me up.

    19When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
    Your consolations delight my soul.

    20Can a throne of destruction be allied with You,
    One which devises mischief by decree?

    21They band themselves together against the life of the righteous
    And condemn the innocent to death.

    22But the LORD has been my stronghold,
    And my God the rock of my refuge.

    23He has brought back their wickedness upon them
    And will destroy them in their evil;
    The LORD our God will destroy them.

    Steve57 (0b1dac)

  6. Could not attend church this morning but the reason is a happy one: I was picking up my mom at the airport. Nice to listen to this on the way, as a way of focusing my mind on the day.

    Patterico (87b839)

  7. If anyone thinks I don’t see myself among the accused…

    Steve57 (0b1dac)

  8. Glad to hear your mom is OK.

    Steve57 (0b1dac)

  9. I think the copyright has run out.

    Bible > NIV > Psalm 1
    ◄ Psalm 1 ►
    New International Version

    BOOK I

    Psalms 1–41

    Psalm 1

    1Blessed is the one

    who does not walk in step with the wicked

    or stand in the way that sinners take

    or sit in the company of mockers,

    2but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,

    and who meditates on his law day and night.

    3That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,

    which yields its fruit in season

    and whose leaf does not wither—

    whatever they do prospers.

    4Not so the wicked!

    They are like chaff

    that the wind blows away.

    5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,

    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

    6For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,

    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

    Steve57 (0b1dac)

  10. The Kearsarge, the Wasp, and the Oak Hill have returned home. Is that racist?

    Steve57 (0b1dac)

  11. It sounds pretty harsh at first blush?

    To all people who don’t think that the master was wrong: would you have treated servant number three that way if you were in the master’s position? Do you think that what we see in this story even comes close to justifying the inference of wickedness and laziness? How should we proceed in our dealings with others if that’s how low we set the bar for wickedness? How should the master have acted if the least able servant decided to use his perhaps-unreliable judgment about investments–and wound up losing money, instead of saving it all, as he did? Should he have been treated better if he’d invested the money at a loss? And, bearing in mind that any investment carries a risk of loss, how should the master have treated the other two servants if they’d wound up losing money?

    This was way beyond “harsh.” I can’t understand how this stands as a moral lesson for anything other than that the master was the wicked one.

    Alan (466301)

  12. I take it to be one of the less literal parables.* To mean, among other things**, that we humans are uniquely gifted by God and we must make use of those gifts to better ourselves and the world we live in, and not to hoard, and feed, and sleep, and pass away as though we had never been created.

    *Which is why the Weymouth translation, although very pretty and very good parallelism in a piece of prose, is not necessarily the best translation.
    **It can be about cowardice, as well.

    nk (dbc370)

  13. If Christ seems to be promoting capitalism 😉, it is for treasure in Heaven.

    nk (dbc370)

  14. I agree. The parable is teaching us it’s not about hoarding or even about us. We are put here to work, using our “talents” to glorify God, serve the common good, and further God’s kingdom.  Viewed that way, the servant who buried his share and did nothing was wasteful.

    DRJ (15874d)

  15. There may be a return on your talents that you don’t see or even benefit from.

    They haven’t benefited the world if you end up buried in the ground alongside them.

    Pinandpuller (6c8fc0)

  16. @6. That’s great, Patterico.

    Good chance you’ll get a great Thanksgiving fixin’s w/all that help and experience. Mine loved to cook and make everything but she’s reached a point where we can’t let her near a kitchen anymore due to memory loss issues. So after all these years, the rest of us make her the holiday feast nowadays. It’s pleasurable payback.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  17. Tonight: ćevapčići on the grill with assorted spices. San Pedro boasts a large Slavic community and I am the culinary beneficiary of this diversity, having learned about these glorious mixtures of beef, pork, and lamb at a cookout for my daughter’s soccer team many many years ago. All hail the South Shores Meat Market!

    Patterico (115b1f)

  18. Good chance you’ll get a great Thanksgiving fixin’s w/all that help and experience.

    We’re going to eat out Thanksgiving night (Buca di Beppo surprisingly makes an excellent traditional Thanksgiving meal). However, my mom’s classic and simple enchiladas will be wolfed down next Saturday, with the lion’s share of the labor done by the children, as it should be. Recipe and oversight provided by mom. Life is good.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  19. I agree. The parable is teaching us it’s not about hoarding or even about us. We are put here to work, using our “talents” to glorify God, serve the common good, and further God’s kingdom. Viewed that way, the servant who buried his share and did nothing was wasteful.

    Indeed. I meant to note in the post that the parable is also called the Parable of the Talents, which is an apt word given the obvious symbolism at play.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  20. Today’s sermon wee on ephesian 5:20 which focuses on a similar themr

    narciso (d1f714)

  21. If I may humbly suggest, perhaps it is with the passage of time that “talent” acquired the meaning we now give the term. That it didn’t mean the same thing to the first century Jews.

    I’m going to have my cigar now.

    Steve57 (0b1dac)

  22. @18. LOL Sounds grand! We tried that ‘eating out’ phase a few decades ago at a rustic, rural eatery in New Jersey called Lawson’s Turkey Farm. You can guess what was raised and served in the most traditional fashion w/all the fixings– and no clean up. But mother would inevitably do the ‘comparison’ so the feasting returned to home plate. Enjoy your time w/everyone. Sounds like a tasty week ahead for you all.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  23. Steve is right. In the ancient world a talent was a very large amount of money
    A very large amount of money, possibly more than any of J.’s audience would ever see in their lifetime.

    kishnevi (abbfd8)

  24. One source gives one gold talent as the equivalent of twenty years wages for an unskilled laborer. Another, the equivalent of 6,000 days of service for one free unionized Athenian oarsman (merchant ship or warship, peacetime or wartime).

    Take it as something immensely valuable and stop there for purposes of the parable.

    nk (dbc370)

  25. Oh, I’m quite prepared to stop there for purposes of the parable.

    But I am of the opinion that while “talent” certainly meant an immense amount of money, over time it surely acquired alternate meanings. Such as, an acquired skill or innate ability that was also worth its weight in gold.

    Steve57 (0b1dac)

  26. Everything at Buca di Beppo is wonderful!

    Dana (023079)

  27. I think Christ meant it the same way. And if I had to guess only one thing, it would be Free Will. Why, you ask? Because what restrained the bad servant was fear. His sin was cowardice.

    nk (dbc370)

  28. Speaking of Biblical.

    Pérola – Fala Do Que Quiseres [Official Video]

    I don’t speak Portuguese. But I do speak woman, and she is laying down the law. He could have had all that.

    Steve57 (0b1dac)

  29. Steve57=not a genius.

    Steve57 (0b1dac)

  30. Steve57=I can recognize angry chicks.

    Steve57 (0b1dac)

  31. B.I.H. POS Charles Manson

    Take a stab at what it cost California taxpayers for the care and feeding of this animal for decades.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  32. I’ll just note that the Gospel, Psalm, OT (Acts during Easter until Pentecost) and Epistle passages are designed to be present similar themes. This is supposed to help your clergy preach. In addition, the anthems and hymns are also chosen with the readings and season in mind. Your sermon-listening can be made more interesting by taking a few minutes to read the scheduled lessons and wondering how or whether the sermon will connect the dots. These Bach cantatas can only improve the process.

    Golden Eagle (27ab27)


    USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB-3), (formerly USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB-3)), (formerly T-MLP-3/T-AFSB-1)[17][18] is the first purpose-built Expeditionary Mobile Base (previously Mobile Landing Platform, then Afloat Forward Staging Base) vessel for the United States Navy. It’s one of two Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) variants of the U.S. Navy’s planned fleet of Expeditionary Transfer Dock vessels. Lewis B. Puller replaced USS Ponce (AFSB-(I)-15) with the U.S. Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf in Fall 2017.[1][5]

    The Lewis B. Puller was commissioned on 17 August 2017 in Bahrain,[a foreign
    port and if you like I’ll go into that] with its prefix changing from USNS to USS and its hull designation changing from T-ESB-3 to ESB-3.[10]

    I realize no one asked for the information, but can you imagine how horrified Chesty Puller is that his name is being applied to a ship that can’t sustain combat?

    That said, this is exactly the kind of ship that could have aided Puerto Rico.

    Which is why I bring her up.

    Steve57 (0b1dac)

  34. I understand talent meant money then but it means something else now, giving even more meaning to the parable … as I think God intended.

    DRJ (15874d)

  35. Talent as metaphor. Why would Jesus who owned nothing but a single seam garment be promoting capital wealth? So much for once saved, always saved.

    Ben burn (b3d5ab)

  36. Jesus was a lot like the millionaire next store what maybe just had the one garment but he knew how to do accessorize on it to where it was suitable for lots of different occasions

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  37. If I may humbly suggest, perhaps it is with the passage of time that “talent” acquired the meaning we now give the term. That it didn’t mean the same thing to the first century Jews.

    I’m going to have my cigar now.

    Correct, it meant money then but now means something different, which is apt given the symbolism.

    Patterico (1d97e4)

  38. Oh, DRJ said that already.

    Patterico (1d97e4)

  39. ugh next *door* i mean Mr. burn

    kind of dragging today from thanksgiving dinner last night

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  40. As I am sure God intended.


    Only God could have created Chesty Puller. All else would have lacked the imagination.

    Steve57 (0b1dac)

  41. I think you missed the humble part,

    Steve57 (0b1dac)

  42. Why the myopia? It’s about those followers in the Main who think mouthing platitudes paves the way to Paradise. By their fruits you will know them.

    Ben burn (b3d5ab)

  43. Fruit/gold..confusing for many.

    Ben burn (b3d5ab)

  44. DTJ, this parable may actually be the origin of the meaning of “talent” as a special ability, when before that it was only a measure of weight, according to a quick internet search on its etymology that I just did.

    nk (dbc370)

  45. Sorry, *DRJ*.

    nk (dbc370)

  46. My dog makes me a better person.


    Steve57 (0b1dac)

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