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Latin Church Music

Five Missae, 232-236 Contrafaction; Missa in F Intro.

William Hoffman wrote (September 13, 2017):
Latin Church music played a major role in the liturgical life of Leipzig and Dresden during Bach’s time and he particularly responded with settings for the Lutheran main and vespers services of the Missa: Kyrie-Gloria that were appropriate for Lutheran churches in both cities, as well as Catholic services in the dual religious observances of the city with its Saxon court. Best known is the extensive setting of the first two parts of the Mass Ordinary that was the beginning of what would become his Missa tota, “Great Catholic” Mass in B Minor, BWV 232. The performing parts of the Missa: Kyrie-Gloria, BWV 2321, were submitted to Friedrich Augustus II with a cover letter requesting a court title on 27 July 1733.

While the Gloria was the best-known section of the Mass Ordinary in Bach’s Leipzig, the other parts of the Mass, except for the “Credo,” also played a part. The Greek Kyrie preceded the Gloria and “was often used and was obligatory on certain Sundays, for example on the first Sunday in Advent,” observes Carl de Nys in his liner notes to the Michel Corboz Erato recording of the Missae: Kyrie-Gloria, BWV 233-236 (, The Sanctus also was sung at all feast days and “even the Agnus Dei was sung in Bach’s time, in certain circumstances such as the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” says de Nys. “Finally, and most significantly, the Great Litany in a form which combined Greek, Latin and German words, remained in use particularly during the penitential season [Advent and Lent] in which there was no ‘figured’ [concerted] music’,” says de Nys.

Further, Bach began his Leipzig tenure in 1723 with the composition of his Magnificat in E-Flat, BWV 243, Mary’s canticle of praise and his first major vocal composition in a Christological cycle, focusing on the incarnation, God’s word becomes flesh. This music was presented at the festive main and vesper services, particularly for the three Marian feasts of Visitation (July 2), Purification (February 2) and Annunciation (March 25), as well as a Christmas setting with chorale interpolations, 25 December 1723, a precedence established by Bach’s predecessor, Johann Kuhnau, that was further evidence of the high regard in which Latin Church Music was held within orthodox, flourishing Lutheranism in Leipzig, the commercial and educational center of Saxony.

Motive, Method, Opportunity

The important Bach Latin Church Music setting beginning the Leipzig services was the so-called “Short” or “Lutheran” Mass of the Kyrie-Gloria, BWV 233-236. In the 1970s, when this liturgical music was first recorded extensively, one group of scholars thought that the motivation for these four works came from Bohemian Count Franz Anton von Spor(c)k (1662-1738). A progressive Catholic and connoisseur and patron of music, he had strong connections to Dresden and Leipzig. Long-time High Commissioner for Bohemia living in Lissa, Sporck visited Leipzig during Christmas and the Winter Fair in 1724-25 and “was well-known along the intellectual and artistic circles of Leipzig,” says de Carl de Nys. Picander “introduced his first collection of poems to him in 1725 by an Ode addressed to the Count,” says de Nys. This was Picander’s first published poetry collection, Sammulung Erbaulicher Dedanken (Leipzig: 1724-25) which Bach used to paraphrase in Cantatas 148 and 19. Sporck had introduced the valve horn in central Europe and Bach used a pair in his 1724 Epiphany Cantata BWV 65, “Sie werden aus Saba alle kommen” (They will all come from Sheba, Isaiah 60:6), to open the 1724 Winter Fair.

Sporck also may have returned a year later and heard the Christmas Day performances of chorale Cantata BWV 91a, “Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ” (Praised be you, Jesus Christ), also using two horns, as well as the Sanctus in D Major, BWV 232III, the first setting of the B-Minor Mass. Sporck may have stayed through the 1725 Winter Fair until the beginning of Lent when the sacred cantata BWV Anh. 14, “Sein Segen fließt daher wie ein Strom,” was performed (see below, “Complex Adaptations”). The Sanctus original parts were sent to Sporck after Christmas 1724 and before Easter 1727, but never returned, requiring a new set of parts for the reperformance on the later date when Saxon king/Elector Augustus visited Leipzig for the Easter Fair.

Before his death in 1738, Sporck may have commissioned Bach to set a Kyrie-Gloria Mass for use in his Catholic Chapel in Lissa, says de Nys. Bach, created the Missa: Kyrie-Gloria, BWV 233, using French horns again in the choruses of the Kyrie, Gloria and closing Cum sancto spiritu. The last movement is an arrangement of the opening chorus of the 1723 Christmas Second Day (Sunday, 26 December) Cantata BWV 40, “Darzu ist erschienen der Sohn Gottes,” For this reason the Son of God appeared, 1 John 3:8), which also has two horns and which Sporck also may have heard.

In the 1720s in Leipzig, Bach had selectively created Latin Church music as well as celebratory secular works for the Dresden court and its Leipzig adherents in the civic and university arenas, as well as the Saxon-related courts at Weissenfels and Weimar in earlier decades. Increasingly, Bach’s attention and compositional output was directed toward Dresden when much of this music came to involve borrowings through parody and contrafaction of sacred oratorios and the Latin Mass Ordinary. To achieve his title of court composer, Bach had created a series of cantata serenades and drammi per musica, which had begun in 1725, and occupied much of his vocal composition in the mid-1730s. Contextually, several other important events could have caused Bach to shift his sacred creative endeavors to both Latin Church music for Dresden, as well as sacred songs for Lutherans during the later 1730s. Following Bach’s composition of German-style oratorios for the feasts for Christmas and Ascension and probably Pentecost in 1734-35, Bach was prepared in his final decade to create a true apotheosis of the Mass Ordinary in his Missa tota for the Saxon court.

Bach seemed to possess a special skill for taking tactical advantage of new opportunities and eventually turning them into successful strategic situations. The Saxon connection was reaffirmed in 1732 during a fallow period in his vocal music. In 1731, he had created possibly a virtual parody with his St. Mark Passion, completing a tetralogy of Gospel-driven oratorio Passions for the annual Good Friday vesper service, as Telemann had done in Hamburg since 1723. Bach was more selective, taking his time while completing three church-year cantata cycles in 1727. Bach set aside his compositions but began to consider using selective movements or sometimes whole cantatas as borrowings for future use in sacred services, including secular celebratory music composed for Saxon Court members in Leipzig beginning in 1723.2

Missa: Kyrie-Gloria Genesis

Initially, Bach considered movements primarily from Leipzig church cantatas for a Kyrie-Gloria setting.

Beginning in Weimar, Bach had presented such settings by composers at the Dresden Court, including Marco Giuseppe Peranda’s Missa: Kyrie-Gloria in C Major and his Missa in A Minor, and Johann Baal’s Missa in A Major, and Johann Christoph Pez's Missa San Lamberti, completing the entire Mass in1724 in Leipzig, says Kirsten Beißwenger.3 Also in Leipzig, she notes (p.256f), Bach in 1727 copied and possibly performed cousin Johann Ludwig Bach’s Missa “Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr,” Johann Hugo von Wilderer’s Mass in g minor between 1725 and 1729, and Francisco Durante’s Kyrie-Gloria Mass in C Minor, “that contains a newly-composed Christe by Bach (BWV 242),” dated between 1727 and 1732.

On a parallel track, as Bach completed his third cantata cycle in early 1727, he hadthe opportunity to compose and present two secular celebratory drammi per musica for the visiting Saxon Court’s ruler. Augustus II, “the Strong,” King of Poland and Prince of Saxony, celebrated his 57th birthday on May 12 with “Entfernet euch, ihr heitern Sterne” (Disperse yourselves, ye stars serenely), BWV Anh. 9. On his name day, August 3, Cantata BWV 193a, "Ihr Häuser des Himmels, ihr scheinenden Lichter" (Ye houses of heaven, ye radiant torches) was presented. Exactly five years later on 3 August 1732, August the Strong made his final visit to Leipzig when “Es lebe der König, der Vater im Lande” (Long life to the King now, the nation's true father), was presented.

The King-Elector’s death on 1 February 1733 set in motion a series of events which would dictate much of Bach’s vocal composition for the remainder of the decade. During the mourning period, Bach’s oldest son Friedemann was appointed organist at Dresden’s Sophienkirche on June 23, which he assuned on August 1. On July 2, the Feast of the Visitation, the mourning restrictions were lifted and Bach possibly presented his definitive version of the Magnificat in D Major. BWV 243. Before July 23, Bach and his family had copied the score of the 1733 Missa: Kyrie Gloria and visiting Dresden, says Uwe Wolf.4

1733 Missa: Kyrie Gloria, BWV 232a

While Bach scholars continue to debate possible performances in Leipzig and/or Dresden in 1733, the music itself shows that Bach’s first Kyrie-Gloria setting involved 12 substantial movements in cantata form lasting almost an hour: Kyrie I, Christe, Kyrie II; Gloria in excelsis Deo, Et in terra pax, Laudamus te, Gratias amigos tibi, Domine Deus, Qui tollis, Qui sedes, Quoniam tu solus sanctus, and Cum sancto spiritu. In the Gloria section the movements appear to be aria contrafactions from cantatas and chorus adaptations from pre-existing music of Bach as well as influences of other composers such as the Wilderer model in the Kyrie I.

Overall, the 1733 Missa preserves the basic symmetry of these first two Mass segments, three in the Kyrie and nine in the Gloria, with the “Domine Deus” aria as the central movement ( Seven choruses sing the mercy pleas in the Kyrie I and II and in the Gloria central “Qui tollis,” as well as the joyous music with trumpets and drums in the paired “Gloria in excelsis-Et in terra” (, the “Gratias agimus tibi,” and the closing “Cum Sancto.” The regal splendor of the trumpets is a trademark of Bach’s Leipzig sacred feast day cantatas and oratorios, as well as the annual town council installation cantata and the secular drammi per musica for the Saxon Court. In the five arias “Bach methodically displays the solo talents of the singers and instrumentalists,” says George B. Stauffer.5 “The Kyrie and Gloria represent the apotheosis of Bach’s Leipzig cantata style.” Thus, they “lack the type of organic links [musical passages in through-compose manner] that appear in the Credo,” composed in the late 1740s, says Stauffer, where Bach “pursued quite different principles.”

The Missa parodied music “illustrates how Bach adapts the earlier movements to a new temporal context,” says Donald O. Franklin,6 and “provides examples of Bach experimenting with new notational, as well as compositional procedures.” Here Bach takes pre-existing movements or da-capo A sections to forge paired, movements of similar affect such as sorrow/mercy in the “Christe-Kyrie II” and “Domine Deus-Qui tollis” and the joyous “Gloria in excelsis-Et in terra” and “Qui sedes-Quoniam.” Here Bach creates temporal pairings with common pulses to effect smooth transitions, respectively, from 4/4 to 2/2, 4/4 to 3/4, 3/8 to 4/4, and 6/8 to 3/4, while achieving 1:2 proportions in the “Christe” and “Gloria” pairings, Franklin observes (Ibid.: 79-90).

After having copied and performed Latin Church Music from the Saxon court for two decades in Weimar and Leipzig, Bach was ready to create his own Missa: Kyrie-Gloria with a reservoir of his own compositions through contrafaction, as well as selective material as models from the Saxon Court. While the results of a variety of old and new styles often found at the court are impressive in Bach’s Missa music, all the actual sources are still to be determined. Exemplars in similar affect exist from two Bach cantatas: the “Gratias agimus tibi” from 1731 Town Council Cantata 29, “Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir (We thank you, God, we thank you, Psalm 75:2), and the “Qui tollis” from 1723 Trinity 12 chorus Cantata 46, “Schauet doch und sehet, ob irgendein Schmerz sei” (Behold and see if any grief is, Lamentations 1:12). “The characteristics of the handwriting in Bach’s score [], however, give rise to the supposition that even more of the movements were not newly composed for the Missa, but rather are parodies of older compositions,” says Wolf (Ibid.). “However, since we do not know the models, everything else remains speculation.” Meanwhile, the parts were written on the same paper as the score of the Magnificat in D.

BWV 232a Complex Adaptations

The remainder are more complex adaptations that may derive from two basic sources. One repertory involves certain Saxon court drammi per musica with lost music: the “Domine Deus” probably comes from the Fame-Fortune love duet, “Ich will/Du solt ruehmen” (I will/Thou shalt boast now), in Cantata BWV 193a, "Ihr Häuser des Himmels, ihr scheinenden Lichter" (Ye houses of heaven, ye radiant torches) for Augustus’ name day, 3 August 1727); the “Christe eleison” may come from the Philyris/Apollo love duet, “Seyd zu tausend mahl willkommen” (For a thousand times be welcome) in Cantata BWV Anh. 9, “Entfernet euch, ihr heitern Sterne” (Disperse yourselves, ye stars serenely), homage to Augustus, 12 May 1727; while the 1725 sacred wedding Cantata BWV Anh. 14, “Sein Segen fließt daher wie ein Strom” (His blessing flows like a stream, Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 39:22), for a Saxon court official, may have supplied two arias: the soprano aria “Laudaumus te” could be the opening aria and the bass solo with horn, “Quoniam to solus sanctus,” could derive from the aria “Wohl Dir, da zur erwünschten Stunde” (Blest thou, that at the welcome moment, Ezekiel 47:1). The impetus and model source for the opening Kyrie is from Wilderer’s Mass in g minor (

No other specific sources have been found for the other celebratory choruses in the 1733 Missa: Gloria, although Bach scholars seem to think that the music of the opening “Gloria” and the closing “Cum sancto spiritu” may have originated as polyphonic instrumental concerto movements, possibly dating as far back as Cöthen. A source for the “Gloria” may be traced to the lost 1718 sacred serenade, BWV Anh. 5 (text only), “Lobet den Herrn, alle seine Heerscharen” (Praise ye the Lord, all ye of his great armies, Psalm 119:1;, a form which Bach imitated in the opening fugal choruses of several Leipzig cantatas composed in the first cycle, 1723-24, particularly New Year’s Cantata 190, “Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied!” (Sing to the Lord a new song, Psalm 149; The imposing “Cum sancto” chorus ( may be from a lost cantata movement in the second half of the 1720s, possibly the lost 1730 Town Council Cantata BWV Anh. 3 (text only), "Gott, gieb Dein Gerichte dem Könige” (Psalm 72:1-2): (God, give the king Thy judgment, Psalm 72:1;

While Bach would wait three years to achieve his court title, he achieved immediate success compositionally.

The new monarch visited Leipzig for his name day, 3 August 1733, with Bach presenting BWV Anh. 12, “Frohes Volk, vergnügte Sachsen” (Happy folk, contented Saxons), a wholesale parody of “Froher Tag.” BWV Anh. 18, obviously assembled on short notice with only new recitatives for the occasion. This was followed by the newly-composed birthday dramma per musica for the birth of the elector Prince, Friedrich Christian, BWV 213, “Laßt uns sorgen, laßt uns wachen” (Let us tend him, let us watch him), a month later on 5 September 1733 ( A pattern was established with Bach presenting new and parodied drammi per musica until 1742 for Saxon Court celebratory visits.

Missae: Kyrie-Gloria
, BWV 233-236

In the second half of the 1730s, at an indeterminate date, Bach assembled his four Missae: Kyrie-Gloria, BWV 233-236. These were a less-extensive and -regal abbreviated template of the 1733 Missa that was composed to impress the Saxon Court. Now, more pragmatically and intentionally, Bach created a concise setting in his own cantata form with a Kyrie and five Gloria movements, lasting a half hour, without trumpets and drums and limited to a chorus in the Kyrie as a through-composed setting as well as the opening “Gloria” and closing “Cum Sancto" — six movements instead of 12, consolidating the internal Gloria section from six to three arias with no choruses and combining sections into bi-partite arias often suitably taken from the da-capo aria A-B sections.

Other factors included the orchestra limited to pairs of oboes or flutes with strings (two horns in the first Mass in F, BWV 233), with the usual four voices (SATB), instead of five voices (SSATB) in the “Gloria” and “Cum sancto.” Without the lilting key of D Major with trumpets, and F for the horns in Missa No. 1, Bach had a range of keys and chose A Major, G Major and g minor for the other three, respectively, thereby able to use several movements from one cantata. Of the 24 movements, only the sources of three are still to be determined, the remainder being almost entirely movements from cantatas composed in Leipzig from 1723 to 1726. These settings also are appropriate for both Lutheran and Catholic services.

“These interesting and careful works [less ambitious and large scale] from the [later] 1730s, too often underrated in the past, in fact repay careful study for understanding the composer’s methods,” says Peter Williams in his recent, final comments.7 Bach’s purpose in compiling them, by selecting earlier cantata movements and revising them in a variety of ways for words of the Latin Mass (also familiar to Lutherans) have not emerged from documents,” says Williams. “Nor has his reason for choosing particular cantatas to draw upon: the text of the mass itself is so imbued with biblical notions and biblical phrases that many a cantata-libretto will invoke them just as well” and “no movement merely takes over the Latin words, nor are any obvious short cuts taken.” “Like the two-movement Masses associated with Bach (see above, “Missa: Kyrie-Gloria Genesis”), “there were occasions in Leipzig when such works were appropriate and continued to be so in later years.” The works with “their relatively modest instrumentation, would not have been out of place” in the Sophienkirche, where, from “1737, the court’s Protestant services were held.”

Possible Sources, “Gloria,” Two "Domine Deus,” "Kyrie"

“It seems likely that the other two sections of the Gloria [BWV 233, “Gloria to Gratias agimus tibi” and “Domine Deus”] were also based on music from a church cantata, now lost in its original form, other movements of which may have been used in the Mass in A, BWV 234.” says Ulrich Leisinger.8 It is tempting to consider that two movements of the lost 1725 Town Council Cantata BWV Anh. 4, “Wünschet Jerusalem Glück” (Wished-for Jerusalem fortune), may have been the original music of contrafactions found in Bach’s late 1730 Missae: Kyrie-Gloria. The opening movement of BWV Anh. 4(a), “Wünschet Jerusalem Glück,” may have become the fugal chorus (no. 2), “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” in 6/8 gigue-passapied style, of the Missa: Kyrie-Gloria in F Major, BWV 233 ( The text is: “Gloria in excelsis Deo, / et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. / Laudamus te, benedicimus te, / adoramus te, glorificamus te. / Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam.” In mood, phrasing and line length the two movements are quite similar.

In the Missa No. 1 in F Major, BWV 233, the movement succeeding the opening “Gloria,” the bass bi-partite aria with strings (no. 3), “Domine Deus,” in 3/8, beginning in C Major (, is a possible parody contrafaction of the da-capo aria (no. 6), “Geist und Herze sind begierig” (Heart and spirit are most eager), of festive secular Cantata BWV Anh. 18, “Froher Tag, verlangte Stunden” (Happy day, long hoped-for hours [by Z. Philip Ambrose]), for the dedication of the renovation of the Thomas School, 5 June 1732 (German and English texts,

The da-capo aria BWV 4a/3, “Herr, erhöre, was wir bitten,” could be a parody of BWV Anh. 4/4, “Herrscher aller Seraphinen,” and may have been set as a contrafaction in the Missa No. 2 in A Major, BWV 234, in the syncopated 4/4 extended bass aria (no. 3), “Domine Deus, Rex coelestis” (O Lord God, heavenly King,, the rest of the new text is “Deus Pater omnipotens, / Domine Fili unigenite Jesu Christe, / Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris.” The original German texts are found at BCW The bass “Domine Deus” in f-sharp minor 4/4 is a trio-aria with solo violin, with the added text of “Deus Peter ominpotents” (, similar in structure to the bass aria, Domine Deus,” BWV 233/3.

Another parody-contrafaction source also is found in the Missa No. 2. The extended (six-minute), tripartite opening chorus Kyrie in A Major ( with two flutes and strings begins as a lovely “Kyrie eleison” (Lord have mercy) homophonic progressive pastorale gigue in 3/4. It continues (mm 73) in the Lento section as a 4/4 fugue to the text “Christe eleison” (Christ have mercy) with declamation phrasing that suggests a German contrafaction. The repeat of the “Kyrie eleison” (mm 90) in the third part is a dance-like 3/8 fugue, again beginning in the bass, and having an Adagio closing on “eleison.” The extended ritornelli and non-da capo structure suggests a progressive-style chorus in stile misto in a serenade for the Saxon Court and composed as early as 1725.

The best candidate is the closing Chorus Nymphs on the Pleisse River, “Lebe, neues Paar, vergnügt!” (Live, ye newly-weds, content!), of wedding Cantata BWV Anh. 196, “Auf! süß-entzückende Gewalt” (Up! Sweet charming authority), for The refrain, repeated in the middle and the end of the aria, matches the phrase “Kyrie eleison.” Further, this 13-movement work (text,,

with progressive arcadian images of librettist Johann Christoph Gottsched for Saxon court nobility, later provided two parody/contrafaction arias in the 1735 Ascension Oratorio, one for soprano and the other for alto later reused as the “Agnus Dei” in the B-Minor Mass.

Missae BrevStructures

While all four Missae have the same basic structure of a tri-partite Kyrie and a five-movement “
Gloria, the first two may have been composed first. Missae No. 1 in F Major, BWV 233, and No. 2 in A Major, BWV 234, have identical Gloria movement settings, including the internal arias and common cantata sources. The BWV 233 “Gloria” and both “Domine Deus” musical sources are lost with only the original German text surviving. Both “Domine Deus” are arias for bass, while the succeeding “Qui tollis” arias are for soprano and “Quoniam” for alto. While choosing the best original sources as contrafaction, Bach continued the principles of similar affect and phrasing found in the original Missa. To shape a more concise template of a five movement “Gloria,” Bach initially choose a greater variety of cantata sources, both sacred and perhaps secular, to mold a more felxible, bi- and tri-partite template structure for the aria individual movements, using a similar template for the other two Missae.

In the first two Missae, Bach realized sprightly arias for the bass “Domine Deus” and “Domine fili,” whose original sources could not be found in the extant sacred cantatas and remain a mystery. The possibilities of lost secular cantata movements with only texts surviving. BWV Anh. 18/6 and Anh. 4/5=4a/3 remain as candidates for the “Domine Deus” bass arias with their similar original German text aria phrases (see above, “Possible Sources, ‘Gloria,” Domine Deus’”), although neither is conclusive while BWV Anh.18/6 is more convincing.

In the last two Missae, No. 3 in g minor, BWV 235, and No. 4 in G Major, BWV 236, the Glorias have common structures but differ from the first two. The “Gratias agimus tibi” choral passages in the first two Missae, following the “Laudamus te” and “Et in terra pax” are bass solos in the last two. No. 3 continues with the “Domine fili” for alto and the “Qui tollis” for tenor and No. 4 continues with the “Domine Deus” for alto and the “Quoniam” for tenor. Mass No. 4 has the same initial “Gloria” movements followed by the tri-partite soprano-alto bass “Domine Deus,” “Qui tollis,” “Qui sedes” from the tri-partite (ABB)soprano/alto duet in G Major, “”Gott, ach Gott, verlass die Deinen nimmermehr” (God, ah God, forsake your people never again!) from the 1725 Reformation Cantata, BWV 79, “Gott der Herr ist Sohn und Schild” (God the Lord is sun and shield, Psalm 84:11). This is followed by the tenor aria “Quoniam.”

Missae: Cantata Sources

Twenty of the 24 musical sources of the Missae, BWV 233-236 are extant.10 They show a reservoir of sacred Leipzig cantatas composed between 1723 and 1726. Most significant are the 1726 two-part Rudolstadt musical sermons that provided multiple movements: BWV 102, Trinity 10 (102/1=235/1, 102/3=233/4, 102/5=233/5); and BWV 187, Trinity 7 (187/1=235/6, 187/3=235/4, 187/4=235/3, and 187/5=235/5. Reformation 1725 Cantata BWV 79 provided three movements: 79/1=236/2, 79/2234/5, 79/5=236/4. The remainder are selective, mostly chorus single movements: 1723 136/1=234/6 (Cum sancto), 1723 138/5=236/3 (Gratias), 1723 40/1=233/6 (Cum sancto), 1724 67/6=234/2 (Gloria), 1726 72/1=235/2 (Gloria), and 1726 17/1=236/6 (Cum sancto).


1 Carl de Nys, liner notes to Bach Missae Breves, Erato 1994: 17-20, BCW, No. 10. Bach may have been introduced to Sporck during his May/June visits in 1718/20 in Carlsbad with Cöthen Prince Leopold. Much is still speculation (see
2 See Leipziger Universitätschor Festmusiken,, 20 works with Z. Philipp Ambrose English text translations commissioned by the University and presented by Bach, honoring the Saxon court and Leipzig residents with connections to the court.
3 Kirsten Beißwenger, “Bach’s Engagement with Works of Other Composers,” The Routledge Research Companion to Johann Sebastian Bach, ed. Robin A. Leaver (London, New York: Ruteledge 2017,\: 252). Actual dates are confirmed in Chapter 20, “Life and Works 1685-1750, written by Leaver.
4 Uwe Wolfe, “Preface: Missa in b minor, BWV 2321, 1733 Version,” trans. Howard Weiner, in Early Versions of the Mass in B Minor, Vocal Score BA 5293a (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2006: VII).
5 George B. Stauffer, Bach: The Mass in B Minor, “The Great Catholic Mass, Yale Music Masterworks (New Haven Cn & London: Yale University Press, 2003: 97).
6 Donald O. Franklin, “Reading Bach’s Notation: A Guide to the Temporal Structure of the 1733 Missa,” in BACH, Journal of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute, Vol. XLVIII, No. 1 (2017, Berea OH: Baldwin-Wallace College: 78).
7 Peter Williams, “Leipzig, the middle years: The Royal title and the Missa,” in Bach: A Musical Biography

(Cambridge University Press, 2017: 351f).
8 Ulrich Leisinger, Forward to Missa in F, BWV 233, trans. John Coombs (Stuttgart: Carus 31.233/03 vocal score, 2000: V). Another Gloria adaptation, BWV 236/2, originated as the opening movements of the Reformation Cantata, BWV 79, composed two months after Cantata BWV Anh. 4 in 1725. The contrafaction Gloria music is, the cantata music is
9 Suggested by Alberto Basso. Frau Musika: La vita e le opere di J. S. Bach, Volume 2: Lipsia e le opere de la maturità (1723–1750) (Turin, 1983: 518). The supposition is “little proven” (wenig begründet), says Werner Neumann, Handbuch der Kantaten Joh. Seb. Bachs, 5th ed. (Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1984: 253).
10 See Thomas Braatz, BCW “Diagram of Borrowings” (from other Bach cantatas):


[The following is an updated version of BCML Discussion, Week of June 5, 2016, Lutheran "Short Mass" Missa in F Major, BWV 233: Intro. 6/10/16,]

Bach’s first of four essays into the Catholic/Lutheran Missae Breves or “Short Masses” of only the Mass Ordinary Kyrie-Gloria, BWV 233-236, the Missa in F Major, BWV 233, in his late 1730s collection sets his standard for musical settings of both Catholic and Lutheran liturgies. Although half the length of the Misssa: Kyrie-Gloria, BWV 232a, for the Dresden Court (1733), the quartet also observes the court’s musical practices for similar compositions. They also borrow extensively through contrafaction, or text-adaptation, from previous compositions. Lasting about 25 minutes, this concise Missa Brevis in F Major has tutti choruses for pairs of horns and oboes plus strings in the regal format for the “Kyrie,” “Gloria,” and closing “Cum Sancto Spiritu” movements. The inner sections of this Missa change to the minor in the last two of three successive arias in modern style for bass, soprano, and alto, respectively (nos. 3-5), “Domine Deus,” Qui Tollis” and “Quoniam.”1

The first half of the Missa No. 1 in F Major uses the stile antico old style of through-composed motet and fugue, like the Saxon Missa’s two Kyries and parts of the Gloria, BWV 232I In fact, the entire, original Kyrie in F, BWV 233a, lasting more than three minutes, is probably Bach’s oldest original Latin composition, dating as early as Mühlhausen 1707. Most likely it originated at the Weimar Court (1713-17) when Bach’s compositions reached maturity and he had access to Latin compositions at the Weißenfels Court’s extensive library.

The through-composed Gloria (no. 2), lasts almost six minutes and contains the “Gloria in excelsis,” Et in terra pax” and Laudaumus te” sections. Its original source has not been or it may be an original composition, like the preceding “Kyrie” chorus. The opening movement of 1725 Town Council Cantata BWV Anh. 4(a), “Wünschet Jerusalem Glück,” may have become the fugal chorus (no. 2), “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” in 6/8 gigue-passapied style, of the Missa: Kyrie-Gloria in F Major, BWV 233 ( The German text is The original version of the chorus probably had trumpets and drums for the Town Council inauguration while Bach could have rescored these for two horns in the Mass to be compatible with the horns in the opening Kyrie.

Despite the minor key and harsher texts in the intimate internal arias, two of the three contrafactions are in triple time with a typical dance lilt found in the Leipzig cantatas, while preserving the affect. At the same time, Bach varies the voices and the instrumental accompaniment of strings, oboe, and solo violin, respectively. Here, virtually all the borrowed music is retained while the original German text is compatible to the new extended Latin phrases.

Missa No. 1 Movements as Follows2

1. Chorus “Kyrie eleison” is a tri-partite motet fugue in 2/2 alle breve in F Major [SATB; 2 corno, 2 oboes, bassoon, 2 violins, viola, continuo]: A, “Kyrie eleison” (Lord have mercy),2 F Major; entrances tenor m 1, alto m 3, soprano m 7, bass cantus firmus m 9. B, “Christe eleison” (Christ have mercy), C Major; entrances alto m 41, soprano m 43, tenor m 45, bass m 51. C, “Kyrie eleison” (Lord have mercy), F Major; entrances soprano m 85, tenor m 87, alto m 89; bass m 93.

Notes on the Text: The Kyrie eleison (Lord have mercy) litany that opens the Mass Ordinary has its biblical origins as a prayer in Chronicle 1 16:34, says Wikipedia (Google and click on “Kyrie - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia”). Martin Luther sanctioned the Latin Litany and published his Die deutsche Litaney with the Roman Catholic plainsong in 1529. His chorale “Kyrie, Gott Vater, in Ewigkeit” is included in his Die deutsche Messe (text Wittenberg 1541, melody 1525). Bach set the text to a four-part chorale, BWV 371 (see; also click on “englischer Text”).

Today, the hymn is found in the Evangelical Worship hymnbook as “Kyrie! God the Father,” No. 409, “Holy Trinity.”3 An adaptation of the plainsong melody opens the German Organ Mass in the Clavierübung III (1739), BWV 669, organ chorale preludes. The plainsong melody is used only in BWV 672, lesser Kyrie prelude, and Missa, BWV 233, and “organ settings are rare,” says Peter Williams in The Organ Music of J. S. Bach.4

Kyrie, BWV 233a, assumed to have been composed in Mühlhausen or Weimar, 1707-1717, interpolates the German chorale “Christe du Lamm Gottes” (Christ, thou Lamb of God, German Agnus Dei) in motet style, with the traditional four voices singing the "Kyrie" in Latin. In the later version, BWV 233/1, the setting is for four voices, string and continuo, while horns and oboes enter into the upper voice of the Kyrie setting at measure 8, while the basses and bassoon sing the cantus firmus at measure 9. It was presumed to have been sung by the soprano in German in the "original" bi-lingual trope or interpolation setting (SSATB and continuo). The German Agnus Dei has the tri-partite plea, “Der du trägst die Sünd der Welt, / Erbarm dich unser!” (you who take away the sins of the world / have mercy on us!), while the third Kyrie eleison litany refrain is replaced by “Gib uns dein' Frieden. Amen” (grant us your peace. Amen). The last line of the bass, which quotes the Amen from Luther’s German Litany, has been reworded to the repeat Kyrie eleison. The BWV 233a Kyrie score copy P 30 (unknown hand) from the second half of the 1750s was owned by Johann Friedrich Doles, Bach’s second successor as Thomas Cantor.

2. Chorus “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” is one of Bach’s longest through-composed choruses (same key, meter, scoring) with each line of the “Gloria” text treated separately and the length of the five sections determined by the number of words. The “Gloria” text is the Greater Doxology, sung by the angels to the shepherds at Christmas, Luke 2:14. is a motet-like concertante in five sections through-composed free-polyphony with imitative and chordal sections in 6/8, F Major, with 17 m opening ritornello [SATB; 2 corno, 2 oboes, bassoon, 2 violins, viola, continuo]: A. “Gloria in excelsis Deo” (Glory be to God in the highest), fugue in 6/8, entrances bass m 17, tenor m 18, alto m. 23, soprano m 24; B. “et in terra pax hominibus, bonae voluntatis” (and on earth peace to men of good will); entrances alto m 44, tenor m 45, m 46, bass 47; homophonic passage “et in terra pax” mm 63-66, then repeat of full “Gloria” text to m 81. C. “Laudamus te, benedicimus te” (We praise thee, we bless thee), mm 81-83 ritornelli, voice mm. 83-94; D. “adoramus te, glorificamus te” (we adore thee, we glorify thee), ritornello mm 95-105; entrances bass m 105, alto m 106, tenor m 107, soprano m 108, to m 121. The homophonic repeats of the word “pax” (peace) in the “et in terra pax” section are reminiscent of the repeats at measures 157-58 in the Dresden “Gloria.” E. “Gratias agimus tibi, propter magnam gloriam tuam” (We give thee thanks, for thy great glory), begins with a repeat of opening “Gloria” ritornello (mm 1-15), measures 122-136 to the new text “Gratias,” then new music (47 mm) to end (total 183 mm). There was speculation that the original music is itself a third-generation parody, extant in the opening chorus of the Ascension Oratorio, “Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen” (Praise God in his Kingdoms, Ps. 150:1), BWV 11 of 1735, which is a parody through new text underlay that opens two lost, celebratory secular cantatas (text only extant), “Froher Tag, verlangte Stunden” (Joyous day, desired hour”), BWV Anh. 18, Thomas School reopening, June 5, 1732, and “Frohes Volk, vergnügte Sachsen” (Joyous people, pleasing Saxons), BWV Anh. 12, Augustus III Name Day, August 3, 1733. While the style and mood of the music in BWV 11/1 are similar, there is no direct correlation to the music in BWV 233. The same is found with the 1733 5-voice Dresden “Gloria” and “et in terra pax,” BWV 232a, whose musical source may date as early as a Cöthen instrumental concerto (1717-23).

The initial text overlay of the Missa BWV 233 “Gratias” to the previous “Gloria” instrumental music is similar to Bach’s overlay of the Georg Christian Lehms text, “Unser Mund sei voll Lachens” (May our mouth be filled with laughter), in the festive opening chorus of Cantata 110 for Christmas Day 1725, set to the fugal opening of the Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1069, and possibly to the German setting of the “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” “Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe” (Glory to God in the Highest”) in the opening movement of the c1728 Christmas Cantata BWV 197a, which is lost, set to an extant Picander text.

3. The Bass aria in two-parts, “Domine Deus,” is through composed in 3/8 with ritornelli [Bass; 2 violins, viola, continuo]: A. “Domine Deus, Rex coelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens” (O Lord God, heavenly King, (God the Father Almighty); B. “Domine Fili unigenite Jesu Christe “(Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ); C. “Domine Deus, / Agnus Dei, / Filius Patris” (O Lord God, / Lamb of God, / Son of the Father); C Major to G Major.


Five Missae, 233-236: Fugitive Notes, Bibliography

William Hoffman wrote (September 17, 2017):

Fugitive Notes

Bach’s Latin Church Music settings of the Mass Ordinary, as part of a Christological cycle affirming the Christian faith, continue to be explored with important recent findings that bolster a sense of their significance in Bach’s “well-regulated church music.” Bach scholarship now casts a wider, more complex net over his immensely rich and rewarding tapestry, revealing its breadth and depth as well as its interactive context within the worlin which it functioned. Bach’s calling now seems to represent a systematic, multi-faceted, interdisciplinary pursuit from its beginnings in Mühlhausen in 1708 with the mercy plea of a unique “Kyrie” alongside special vocal concertos of joy and sorrow to his concluding Missa tota in 1750 that embraces the final appeal for peace to his world.

Eventually, Bach’s Missae Breves: Kyrie-Gloria, BWV 232a-235, would anchor his Christological cycle, appropriate for Leipzig major festive services in the later 1730s that could have included his recently introduced oratorio settings for Christmas, Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost. While the record for this period remains obscure in the chronology of Bach’s musical creations, increasingly, Bach seemed to have had both a grand conceptual design and a practical, temporal perspective on his music.

Missae Breves, BWV 233-236: Varied Parody, Fine Music

“The parodies in the Masses reveal a considerable variety of procedures,” says Joshua Rifkin,1 who cites specific movements of superior quality. Few changes in the music are found in “Mass in g minor,” BWV 235, “Kyrie” and “Cum sancto Spiritu.” In contrast, “Arias are generally reworked with greater freedom than the choruses, a natural consequence of the relative textural complexity of the two forms,” he says, for example: the BWV 235 “Domini Fili” [,, and the BWV 236 “Quoniam” (,, “transform their models so deeply as to become virtually new pieces.”

The separate “Kyrie” of the Mass in F, BWV 233(a) is one of Bach’s “profoundest and most impressive pieces,” says Rifkin, citing Philipp Spitta (see below). The opening Kyrie of the Mass in A, BWV 234, “with its effortless canonic writing, achieves a rare pastoral grace” (, he says. The closing “Cum sancto” of the Masses in F Major and g minor, BWV 235 (,, “offer masterly examples of how impressive even a literal parody can be in proper context.” The arias have the most eloquent music — “Qui tollis” F Major Mass (, the “Domine Fili” g minor Mass (, and the “Domine Deus” G Major Mass ( — and “belong among the finest that Bach wrote and possess a beauty and depth quite independent of their models,” says Rifkin.

“Kyrie,” Mass in F Major, BWV 233

The opening “Kyrie” of the Mass in F was Bach’s first known Latin Music setting, composed independently but setting the tone for the remained of the work (details,

The five-voice (SSATB) tri-partite (128 measure) setting of the “Kyrie ‘Christe, du Lamm Gottes’ in F major BWV 233a (Bach Compendium BC E 7) is a unique bi-lingual work in stile antico combining the Latin litany with the Luther’s vernacular setting of the chorale Agnus Dei — the bookends of the Mass Ordinary. The three-successive fugues (based on a single subject and its inversion, may have originated in Mühlhausen on Good Friday, 6 April 1708), at a service of confession and general absolution, says Marcus Rathey.2 Thus Bach’s music represents both the beginning and end of the Mass Ordinary, as well as a liturgical proto-expression of the sacrificial Passion of Jesus Christ, a subject best portrayed in the German oratorio Passion tradition emanating from Hamburg, and what would become another pillar of Bach’s setting from the Gospels of John Matthew, and Mark.

Penitential Service Order. Douglas Cowling wrote (June 17, 2013): <<It's worth outlining this service, for it shows that is a normal Lutheran Mass [Service of Word and Sacrament] such as would be celebrated in the "closed' penitential season of Lent: Introit: “Komm, Heil'ger Geist”; Litany [replaces Kyrie and Gloria in Advent and Lent]; Collect: chanted Prayer of the Day; Epistle: Psalm 51 [German "Miserere Mei" - penitential psalm] is sung instead of a New Testament reading; Hymn of the Day [Gradual], “Erbarme Dich” - with two other options; Gospel: Luke 13; [Cantata?]; Hymn before the Sermon: “Allein zu dir”; Sermon; Chancel Offertory Hymn: “Nimm von uns”; [Preface and Sanctus]; [Lord's Prayer]; [Words of Institution]; Hymn during Communion: “Jesus Christus unser Heiland]; [Post-Communion Prayer]; [Blessing]; [Final Hymn]. This mass could have been celebrated on any day of the week that was designated as a Buss-Tag. A cantata such as BWV 131 could easily have been performed after the Gospel. Note that the Psalm 51 was sung (in chant?) instead of the Epistle reading. "Miserere Mei" was one of the Seven Penitential Psalms. BWV 131 is a German adaptation of "De Profundis", another psalm [130] from the set.>>

Mass in A major BWV 234

Written around 1738, the Mass in A (details original score in Bach’s hand shows evidence of reperformances around 1743-46 and 1748-49. Bach’s second youngest son, Johann Christoph Friedrich “Buckeburg Bach” (1732-1795), assumed a major role as his father’s primary copyist, including the Mass in A Major and the B Minor Mass, observes Peter Wollny.3 Christoph’s involvement in the B-Minor Mass is bolstered by his preparation of a new performing parts set for BWV 234 (original presumably lost), c.1748-49 (, from the autograph score (BWV 234; facsimile of the autographic score and continuo-part [Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1985]), with the Missa tota possibly performed “in the second half of 1749 or in the first few months of 1750,” suggests Wollny (Ibid.: 46)

Bach’s autographs of the A Major [BWV 234] and G Major [BWV 236] Masses — those of the other two do not survive — offer valuable insights into his methods,” says Rifkin (,]; Provenance: J. S. Bach - ? - Breitkopf - Leipzig, Archiv Breitkopf & Härtel (Mus. ms. 7) - Darmstadt, Hessische Landes- und Hochschulbibliothek, Musikabteilung (1951).

Mass in g minor, BWV 235, Mass in G Major, BWV 236

While all four of Bach’s Missae Brevae, BWV 233-235, were conceived at the same time in outline form with the original sources, they show similarities as pairs, with the latter emphasizing more progressive music through impressive adaptation. Meanwhile, there is no recorded reperformance of either, only the extant original sources in a Gloria movement pattern unique to each Mass setting and different from the paired order of the first two.

Discussion of Mass in g minor, BWV 235, see, in the omnibus score, probably was copied from the Bach original manuscript, by student and son-in-law Johann ChristoAltnikol, c.1747-48 (

Missa Brevis in G major BWV 236 (, source is the same and they have the same Provenance: J. C. Altnickol - C. P. E. Bach - G. Poelchau (1805) - BB (now Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz) (1841).

Summary Comment: The final chapter of the Bach Latin Mass settings remains to be written, particularly determining the lost original sources or models of the movements from previous Bach cantatas whose text survives but the music is lost. Quite possibly the original sources were part of occasional, special secular works composed for the Saxon Court which then could have been cannibalized as borrowed material with the original manuscript having no further purpose.

Chronological Bibliography, Missae Brevae, BWV 233-236,

Bach’s Latin Church Music for the Lutheran Liturgy, “Many oratorios, Masses, Magnificats, several Sanctus,” and secular works, was listed second in his 1754 published “Obituary” (BD III, no. 666) authors Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach and Johann Friedrich Agricola. First were “Five annual cycles of church pieces” (Fünf Jahrgänge von Kirchenstücken), with the third category being “Five Passions,” A half-century later, before the Bach revival, in Sebastian’s first published biography by Johann Nikolaus Forkel (1802), the miscellaneous pieces had fallen to third place, behind the Passions yet still ahead of the motets, the other category of “learned” music with which Bach had earned his initial reputation as a composer (On Johann Sebastian Bach’s Life, Genius and Works in The New Bach Reader: A Life of Johann Sebastian Bach in Letters and Documents, ed. Hans T. David & Arthur Mendel, Revised and Enlarged by Christoph Wolff (New York: W. W. Norton & Company 1998: 472).

Two Missae, BWV 234 and 236, scores c.1738 in Bach’s hand are found in the Leipzig Breitkopf publisher’s first, Fall Catalog 1761 (BD III, no. 711), listed third after 1. Motets, 2. Hymns & Songs with Instruments. Missa BWV 234, the best accessible source for Missa Kyrie-Gloria in A Major, BWV 234, is the Breitkopf & Härtel “Facsimile of the Autograph Score, JSB Mass A Major, BWV 234” (Wiesbaden 1985) with an Introduction containing two articles: “The Manuscript,” by Oswald Bill (pp. 7-14) and “The Work,” by Klaus Häfner (pp. 15-19).

A collection of the four Missae, BWV 233-236, was copied by Bach son-in-law, Johann Christoph Altnikol, c.1747/48 and found in the Emmanuel Bach 1790 estate catalogue. The original autograph score probably was inherited by Friedemann Bach and was listed in the Breitkopf fall 1761 catalogue under “Missae” with instrumentation, with the “Missa,” BWV 236 copied on 29 October 1761 by Bach student and copyist Christian Friedrich Penzel. Writing in 1754, theorist Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg, part of the Berlin School that included Emmanuel Bach, cited the opening BWV 233 “Kyrie” in his “Treatise on the Fugue,” as a fine example of contrapuntal writing. As early as 1779, Johann Philipp Kirnberger in his treatise “The Art of Strict Musical Composition), cited the “Christe eleison” section of this Mass. The collection was first published by Breitkopf in 1807 at the beginning of the so-called Bach Revival.

Another source: Chester L. Alwes, “J. S. Bach's ‘Lutheran’ Masses: Aspects of Chronology and Structure ,” The Choral Journal, Vol. 29, No. 7 (February 1989), pp. 5-11,

Also: Golomb, Uri. “Bach’s Four Missae,” BCW Article (December 2008,

Bach Latin Church Music, Select Bibliography

Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis, Kleine Ausgabe (BWV, 2a.); ed. Wolfgang Schmieder (Weisbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1998. This is a complete catalog, in German, of every piece Bach wrote, with abbreviated information. The first few measures of each movement of every piece are shown, with words when applicable. It is updated to include the music added to the catalog since 1990.

Beißwenger, Kirsten. “Bachs Einggriffe in Werke fermder Komponisten Beobachtungen an den Notenhandschriften aus seiner Bibliothek unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der latinischen Kirchenmusik” (Bach’s Involvement in Extraneous Work Compositions in Adherence With Musical Manuscripts in His Library, With Separate Consideration of Latin Church Music), Bach Jahrbuch 1991: l27-47.

Beißwenger, Kirsten. Lateinische Kirchenmusik/Passionen: Bearbeitungen fremder Werke, Werke zweifelhafter Echtheit (Latin Church Music/Passions: Adaptations of Extraneous Works, Works of Doubtful Authenticity), NBA II/9(KB) 2000.

Braatz, Thomas. “Johann Sebastian Bach’s Adaptation of the Kyrie and Gloria from Palestrina’s <Missa sine nomine> (1590), Provenance and Description of Source Materials,” based on the NBA KB II/9 pp. 23-30, prepared by Thomas Braatz © 2010,

Hoffman, William. “Latin Church Music, BCW Article (July 2011),

Wiermann, Barbara. ‘Bach und Palestrina - Neue Quellen (Sources) aus Johann Sebastian Bachs Notenbibliothek (Music Library)’ Bach Jahrbuch 2002: 9-25.

Wolf, Uwe. “Preface” to the Early Versions of the Mass in B Minor,” Bärenreiter, vocal score, based on the Urtext of the New Bach Edition by Andrea Köhs, 2006, supplement to NBA II/1a, ed. Uwe Wolf, 2005.

Wolff, Christoph. Der stile antico in der Musik Johann Sebastian Bachs (Wiesbaden, 1968).

Wolff, Christoph. “Bach and the Tradition of the Palestrina Style,” in Bach, Essays on his Life and Music: Outlines of a Musical Portrait (Harvard University Press, 1991).


1 Joshua Rifkin, Nonesuch liner notes; Helmut Rilling first recording,; Nonesuch notes, cover, details
2 Marcus Rathey, “Zur Datierung einiger Vokalwerke Bachs in den Jahren 1707 und 1708,” Bach-Jahrbuch, vol. 92 (2006, Leipzig: 65ff). “Kyrie in F” source: score copy (unknown scribe), second half of the 18th century (ca. 1760–1789), D-B Mus. ms. Bach P 70,; Provenance: ? - J. F. Doles - J. A. Hiller - Hoffmeister & Kühnel (Bureau de Musique) - G. Poelchau - BB (now Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz) (1841).
3 Peter Wollny, “Observations on the Autograph of the B-Minor Mass, trans. James Brokaw II, in BACH, Journal of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute, Vol. XLVII, No. 2 (2016, Berea OH: Baldwin-Wallace College: 43f).


To Come: Later Trinity Time Eschatological Chorales, 1730s Chorale Collections


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