BWV 39 Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot

First Sunday after Trinity.

Poet unknown, Christoph Helm?;(1) PT (Rudolstadt, 1726).

1. Is. 58:7-8; 4. Heb. 13:16; 7. David Denicke, verse 6 of "Kommt, laßt euch den Herren lehren," 1648 (Fischer-Tümpel, II, #404).

23 June 1726, Leipzig.

BG 7; NBA I/15.



First Part

1. Chorus [Dictum] (S, A, T, B)

Break with hungry men thy bread and those who in want are found take in thy house! If thou dost a man see naked, then cover him and withdraw thyself not from thy flesh.
And then shall thy light through all break forth like the rosy morning, and thy recovery shall wax quickly, and thine own righteousness shall go forth before thee, and the majesty of the Lord God shall receive thee.

2. Recit. (B)

The bounteous God casts his abundant store
On us, those who without him were not even breathing.
His is all that we are; he gives us but the use,
But not that us alone
Should these his treasures comfort.
They as a touchstone serve
By which he hath revealed
That he to poor men also need hath freely given,
And hath with open hand,
Whate'er the poor require, to us so richly proffered(2).
We are required for all the wealth he lends
No interest into his barns to carry;
But mercy which is to one's neighbor shown
Can more than any gift be to his heart compelling.

3. Aria (A)

One's creator while on earth yet
Even dimly to resemble
Is a foretaste of true bliss.
His compassion's way to follow
Scatters here the seeds of blessing
Which in heaven we shall reap.

Second Part

4. Aria [Dictum] (B)

To do good and share your blessings forget ye not; for these are off'rings well-pleasing to God.

5. Aria (S)

Highest, my possessions
Are but what thou givest.
If before thy countenance
I with what I have now
Grateful seek to venture,
Thou wouldst not an off'ring have.

6. Recit. (A)

How shall I then, O Lord, sufficiently repay thee
All that for flesh and soul thou hast bestowed on me?
Yea, what I yet receive, and that by no means seldom,
Since I at ev'ry hour still can thy praises tell?(3)
I own nought but my soul which I to thee may offer,
To neighbor nought but hope that I shall serve him well,
To poor men, all thou me hast giv'n within my lifetime,
And, if it be thy will, my feeble flesh to earth.
I'll offer what I can, Lord, let it find thy favor,
That I all thou hast pledged from them e'en yet may gather.

7. Chorale (S, A, T, B)

Blessed those who through compassion
Bear the weight of others' woe,
Who with pity for the wretched
Pray steadfast for them to God.
They who helpful are in word,
And if possible in deed,
Shall in turn receive thy succor
And themselves obtain compassion.


1. Helm is suggested by W. Blankenburg, BJ (1977).

2. I.e., God has created the poor to test our generosity and compassion: He gives us what we should pass on to the poor.

3. This is punctuated as a rhetorical question expecting an affirmative response.


© Copyright  Z. Philip Ambrose


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