Mass in B minor

Mass in B minor

BWV 232 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society
conducted by Jos van Veldhoven
Grote Kerk, Naarden

  • Menu
  • 1. Kyrie eleison (coro)
  • 2. Christe eleison (duetto)
  • 3. Kyrie eleison (coro)
  • 4. Gloria in excelsis Deo (coro)
  • 4. Et in terra pax
  • 5. Laudamus te (aria)
  • 6. Gratias agimus tibi (coro)
  • 7. Domine Deus (duetto)
  • 8. Qui tollis (coro)
  • 9. Qui sedes (aria)
  • 10. Quoniam tu solus sanctus (aria)
  • 11. Cum Sancto Spiritu (coro)
  • 12. Credo in unum Deum (coro)
  • 13. Patrem omnipotentem (coro)
  • 14. Et in unum Dominum (duetto)
  • 15. Et incarnatus est (coro)
  • 16. Crucifixus (coro)
  • 17. Et resurrexit (coro)
  • 18. Et in Spiritum Sanctum (aria)
  • 19. Confiteor (coro)
  • 20. Et expecto (coro)
  • 21. Sanctus (coro)
  • 21. Pleni sunt caeli
  • 22. Osanna in excelsis (coro)
  • 23. Benedictus qui venit (aria)
  • 23. Osanna in excelsis (coro)
  • 24. Agnus Dei (aria)
  • 25. Dona nobis pacem (coro)

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

Bach's testament

Bach's Mass in B minor could be regarded as one big Concerto Grosso

Sublime, extreme and all-embracing… only superlatives will do to describe Bach’s Mass in B minor. In between an awe-inspiring Kyrie and the jubilant final Dona nobis pacem, there are nine completely unique arias and duets, fourteen impressive ensemble sections for four, five, six and even eight voices, a broad spectrum of instrumental solos, and an incredible variety of styles. Our admiration is justified: it was with good reason that in 1748-49 Bach brought together some of the highlights of his long career. The Mass even includes Bach’s very last pages of vocal music, the Et incarnatus est, right alongside the Crucifixus, a clever arrangement from one of his earliest cantatas, composed in 1714.

A magnum opus
There has been much speculation about the question of why Bach compiled a Mass at the end of his life. Nowadays, the Mass in B minor is generally regarded as the magnum opus of his vocal works; equivalent to other big projects by Bach like Die Kunst der Fuge and the Clavier-Übungen series. Bach may have opted for the Ordinary of the Mass because it gave him a lot of freedom. There is a great deal of text and it is not dictated which movements should be sung by the chorus and which should be arias. Neither are there any rules about the number of movements. Furthermore, the words of the Mass – unlike those of the cantatas – are universal rather than being a product of their time.

The Mass of 1733
The length of the Mass in B minor precludes it being sung in its entirety in a church service. Yet this does not mean that Bach could never have heard his creation performed live. It is just that it was performed in parts over the years. Most researchers now believe that Bach compiled his Mass largely of existing music, coming predominantly from the cantatas of course. The initiative for the complete Mass dates from July 1733, when Bach presented the parts for a Mass in B minor to King August III in Dresden. It was the start of a series of five ‘Lutheran’ Masses, comprising only the Kyrie and the Gloria, which all originated in the 1730’s. Whereas Bach’s text did differ somewhat from the Roman Catholic liturgy, such a restricted setting of the Mass was quite common at the Catholic court of Dresden. Moreover, the form was extremely well suited to the custom in Dresden (rather than that in Leipzig); namely a Mass in separate movements, as in the Neapolitan style of Zelenka. For the performance, Bach could call on the world-famous court orchestra, which included stars like the violinist Pisendel, the flautists Buffardin and Quantz, and the oboist Richter, who were each given a nice solo (respectively Laudamus te, Domine Deus and Qui sedes). The effect must have been magnificent. The great variety of styles is also remarkable. For example, a true Baroque opera duet, Christe eleison, is followed by the second Kyrie in strong counterpoint.

Perfect proportions
Bach only compiled the last five movements of the Mass when he notated the whole work in a score in 1748-49. The architecture of the Credo is striking. At the last moment, Bach very deliberately changed his initial format by separating the Et incarnatus est from the duet Et in unum Dominum, thus producing nine movements. In the new format, the core elements of the faith, i.e. the birth of Jesus as man, his death and his propitious ascension, each get their own central part in the Credo. Incidentally, Bach sets the expecto fragment of text to music twice: first dark and tormented at the end of the Confiteor, as if the corpse is lying waiting in his coffin for what is to come, and then jubilantly when the resurrection is a fact. Bach also borrowed from himself for the three Sanctus movements. He reused a Sanctus from 1724 (in extra festive Lutheran services, this text was sung separately, without the Osanna and the Benedictus), the opening of the cantata Preise dein Glücke from 1730 for the Osanna, and an unknown original for the aria Benedictus in the very fashionable ‘empfindsame’ style of the day, as if Bach wanted to say that he was still very much up to date.

About the performance
Jos van Veldhoven’s idea for this performance was to try and make as little distinction as possible between the singers and the instrumentalists. After all, Bach often reused instrumental music in his vocal works. He also tried to forget the ‘classical’ chorus set-up and to put himself in the impressive and rich tradition of which Bach was part. The result is a ‘new’ Mass in B minor: a Mass like one big concerto grosso with many different components. In addition, Jos van Veldhoven was guided by the texture of the score, also with regard to the orchestra line-up.

Mass in B minor
Hohe Messe
Latin church music
Ordinary of the Latin Mass
First performance
not performed in its entirety during Bach's life
Special notes
Bach used a previously written composition for nearly every movement

Extra videos

Musicians of the Netherlands Bach Society

“Conductor Jos van Veldhoven and many musicians about the Mass in B minor, the best of Bach.”

Vocal texts



1. Coro
Kyrie eleison.

2. Duetto (soprano I&II)
Christe eleison.

3. Coro
Kyrie eleison.

4. Coro
Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Et in terra pax hominibus
bonae voluntatis.

5. Aria (soprano II)
Laudamus te, benedicimus te,
adoramus te, glorificamus te.

6. Coro
Gratias agimus tibi
propter magnam gloriam tuam.

7. Duetto (soprano I & tenor)
Domine Deus, rex coelestis,
Deus Pater omnipotens.
Domine Fili unigenite,
Jesu Christe, altissime.
Domine Deus, Agnus Dei,
Filius Patris.

8. Coro
Qui tollis peccata mundi,
miserere nobis.
Qui tollis peccata mundi,
suscipe deprecationem nostram.

9. Aria (alto)
Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
miserere nobis.

10. Aria (bass)
Quoniam tu solus sanctus,
tu solus Dominus,
tu solus altissimus,
Jesu Christe.

11. Coro
Cum Sancto Spiritu
in gloria Dei Patris.


12. Coro
Credo in unum Deum.

13. Coro
Credo in unum Deum.
Patrem omnipotentem,
factorem caeli et terrae,
visibilium omnium et invisibilium.

14. Duetto (soprano I & alto)
Et in unum Dominum
Jesum Christum,
Filium Dei unigenitum.
Et ex Patre natum
ante omnia saecula.
Deum de Deo,
lumen de lumine,
Deum verum de Deo vero.
Genitum, non factum,
consubstantialem Patri,
per quem omnia facta sunt.
Qui propter nos homines
et propter nostram salutem
descendit de caelis.

15. Coro
Et incarnatus est
de Spiritu Sancto
ex Maria virgine
et homo factus est.

16. Coro
Crucifixus etiam pro nobis,
sub Pontio Pilato
passus et sepultus est.

17. Coro
Et resurrexit tertia die
secundum scripturas.
Et ascendit in caelum,
sedet ad dexteram Patris.
Et iterum venturus est cum gloria
judicare vivos et mortuos,
cujus regni non erit finis.

18. Aria (bass)
Et in Spiritum Sanctum
Dominum et vivificantem,
qui ex Patre Filoque procedit.
Qui cum Patre et Filio simul
adoratur et conglorificatur,
qui locutus est per prophetas.
Et unam sanctam catholicam
et apostolicam ecclesiam.

19. Coro
Confiteor unum baptisma
in remissionem peccatorum.

20. Coro
Et expecto ressurectionem mortuorum,
et vitam venturi saeculi.


21. Coro
Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus,
Domine Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra
gloria ejus.


22. Coro
Osanna in excelsis.

23 Aria (tenor)
Benedictus qui venit
in nomine Domini.

Osanna in excelsis.

24. Aria (alto)
Agnus Dei
qui tollis peccata mundi,
miserere nobis.

25. Coro
Dona nobis pacem.


I. Missa

1. Chorus
Lord, have mercy

2. Duet
Christ, have mercy

3. Chorus
Lord, have mercy.

4. Chorus
Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to men
of good will.

5. Aria
We praise you, we bless you,
we worship you, we glorify you.

6. Chorus
We give you thanks
for your great glory,

7. Duet
Lord God, heavenly king,
God the Father almighty.
Lord, only begotten Son,
Jesus Christ, most high
Lord God, Lamb of God,
Son of the Father.

8. Chorus
Who takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.
Who takes away the sins of the world
receive our prayer.

9. Aria
Who sits at the right hand of the Father,
have mercy on us.

10. Aria
Since you alone are holy,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are most high
Jesus Christ.

11. Chorus
With the Holy Spirit
in the glory of God the Father.


12. Chorus
I believe in one God.

13. Chorus
I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth
and of all things visible and invisible.

14. Duet
And in one Lord
Jesus Christ,
the only­ begotten Son of God,
begotten of his Father
before all worlds.
God of God,
Light of Light,
very God of very God,
begotten, not made,
being of one substance with the Father,
by whom all things were made.
Who for us men
and for our salvation
came down from heaven.

15. Chorus
And was incarnate
by the Holy Ghost
of the Virgin Mary
and was made man.

16. Chorus
And was crucified also for us
under Pontius Pilate.
He suffered and was buried.

17. Chorus
And on the third day he rose again
according to the scriptures.
And ascended into heaven.
And sits at the right hand of the Father.
And he shall come again with glory,
to judge both the quick and the dead;
whose kingdom shall have no end.

18. Aria
And I believe in the Holy Ghost,
the Lord and Giver of Life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son together
is worshipped and glorified,
who spake by the Prophets.
And I believe in one Catholic
and Apostolic Church.

19. Chorus
I acknowledge one Baptism
for the remission of sins.

20. Chorus
And I await the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.


21. Chorus 
Holy, Holy, Holy
Lord God of hosts.
Heaven and earth
are full of your glory.


22. Chorus
Hosanna in the highest.

23. Aria
Blessed be he that comes
in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest

24. Aria
Lamb of God,
who takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.

24. Chorus
Give us peace.


  • Release date
    9 June 2017
  • Recording date
    15 December 2016
  • Location
    Grote Kerk, Naarden
  • Conductor
    Jos van Veldhoven
  • Soprano 1
    Hana Blažíková
  • Soprano 2
    Anna Reinhold
  • Alto
    David Erler
  • Tenor
    Thomas Hobbs
  • Bass
    Peter Harvey
  • Ripieno soprano 1
    Marjon Strijk, Lucie Chartin
  • Ripieno soprano 2
    Hilde Van Ruymbeke, Lauren Armishaw
  • Ripieno alto
    Barnabás Hegyi, Elsbeth Gerritsen
  • Ripieno tenor
    Yves van Handenhove, João Moreira
  • Ripieno bass
    Matthew Baker, Drew Santini
  • Violin 1
    Shunske Sato, Anneke van Haaften, Annelies van der Vegt
  • Violin 2
    Sayuri Yamagata, Pieter Affourtit, Paulien Kostense
  • Viola
    Staas Swierstra, Yoshiko Morita
  • Cello
    Lucia Swarts, Barbara Kernig
  • Double bass
    Robert Franenberg
  • Traverso
    Marten Root, Doretthe Janssens
  • Oboe
    Martin Stadler, Peter Frankenberg, Yongcheon Shin
  • Bassoon
    Benny Aghassi, Tomasz Wesolowski
  • Horn
    Teunis van der Zwart
  • Trumpet
    Robert Vanryne, Fruzsina Hara, Mark Geelen
  • Timpani
    Peppie Wiersma
  • Harpsichord
    Siebe Henstra
  • Positive organ
    Pieter-Jan Belder
  • Director
    Simon Aarden
  • Assistant director
    Ferenc Soeteman
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt, Pim van der Lee
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera
    Jochem Timmerman, Bart ten Harkel, Martin Struijf, Merijn Vrieling
  • Gaffer
    Zen Bloot, Henry Rodgers
  • Camera assistant
    Klazina Westra
  • Set technician
    Justin Mutsaers
  • Film editor
    Pjotr 's-Gravesande
  • Data handling
    Jesper Blok
  • Project manager nep
    Peter Ribbens
  • Documentary
    Onno van Ameijde, Marloes Biermans
  • Producer concert
    Imke Deters, Marco Meijdam
  • Producer film
    Jessie Verbrugh
  • Acknowledgements
    Angela Mast, Marlo Reeders

Help us to complete All of Bach

There are still many recordings to be made before the whole of Bach’s oeuvre is online. And we can’t complete the task without the financial support of our patrons. Please help us to complete the musical heritage of Bach, by supporting us with a donation!