Several years ago Cornell musicologist and professor David Yearsley wrote an analysis on Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantata Nur jedem das Seine (“To Each What is Due Him”), BWV 163.
Bach wrote this cantata following the death of Prince Johann Ernst of Saxe-Weimar, a composer and one of his pupils. He drew the text from the New Testament Book of Matthew, during an episode in which Jesus speaks to his followers about taxes and utters the famous line, “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” That is: taxes are a matter of the flesh; a legal duty which humans are bound to pay, the burden of which has no impact on matters of the spirit. Full story.
WQXR / April 17, 2018