Mass in B minor
The Mass in B minor (BWV 232) by Johann Sebastian Bach is a musical setting of the complete Ordinary of the Latin Mass. The work was one of Bach's last compositions, not completed until 1749, the year before his death. Much of the Mass gave new form to vocal music that Bach had composed throughout his career, dating back (in the case of the "Crucifixus") to 1714, but extensively revised. To complete the work, in the late 1740s Bach composed new sections of the Credo such as "Et incarnatus est".
It was unusual for composers working in the Lutheran tradition to compose a Missa tota and Bach's motivations remain a matter of scholarly debate. The Mass was never performed in its entirety during Bach's lifetime; the first documented complete performance took place in 1859. Since the nineteenth century it has been widely hailed as one of the greatest compositions in musical history, and today it is frequently performed and recorded. Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach archived this work as the Great Catholic Mass.
- 1 Background and context
- 2 Chronology
- 3 Title
- 4 Orchestration
- 5 Performance history
- 6 Status
- 7 Movements and their sources
- 8 Recordings
- 9 References
- 10 See too
- 11 External links
Background and context
On February 1, 1733 Augustus II, Elector of Saxony, died. Five months of mourning followed, during which all public music-making was suspended. Bach used the opportunity to work on the composition of a Missa, a portion of the liturgy sung in Latin and common to both the Lutheran and Roman Catholic rites. His aim was to dedicate the work to the new sovereign Augustus III, a Catholic, with the hope of obtaining the title "Electoral Saxon Court Composer". Upon its completion, Bach visited Augustus III and presented him with a copy of the Missa, together with a petition to be given a court title, dated July 27, 1733; in the accompanying inscription on the wrapper of the mass he complains that he had "innocently suffered one injury or another" in Leipzig. The petition did not meet with immediate success, but Bach eventually got his title; he was made court composer to Augustus III in 1736.
In the last years of his life, Bach expanded the Missa into a complete setting of the Latin Ordinary. It is not known what prompted this creative effort. Wolfgang Osthoff and other scholars have suggested that Bach intended the completed Mass in B minor for performance at the dedication of the new Hofkirche in Dresden, which was begun in 1738 and was nearing completion by the late 1740s. However, the building was not completed until 1751, and Bach's death in July, 1750 prevented his Mass from being submitted for use at the dedication. Instead, Johann Adolph Hasse's Mass in D minor was performed, a work with many similarities to Bach's Mass (the Credo movements in both works feature chant over a walking bass line, for example). Other explanations are less event-specific, involving Bach's interest in "encyclopedic" projects (like The Art of Fugue) that display a wide range of styles, and Bach's desire to preserve some of his best vocal music in a format with wider potential future use than the church cantatas they originated in (see "Movements and their sources" below).
The chronology of the Mass in B minor has attracted extensive scholarly attention. Recent literature suggests:
- In 1724, Bach composed a Sanctus for six vocal parts for use in the Christmas service. Bach revised it when he reused it in the Mass, changing its initial meter from ₵ to C, and its vocal scoring from SSSATB to SSAATB.
- As noted above, in 1733 Bach composed the Missa (Kyrie and Gloria) during the five-month period of mourning following the February 1st death of Elector Augustus II and before July 27, when Bach presented the successor, Augustus III of Poland, with the Missa as a set of instrumental and vocal parts. It is possible that the Kyrie was meant as mourning music for Augustus II, and the Gloria as celebratory of the accession of Augustus III.
- In the mid-1740s (c. 1743–46). Bach re-used two movements from the Gloria in a cantata for Christmas Day (Gloria in excelsis Deo, BWV 191). Gregory Butler argues that at the same service (which he dates to Christmas 1745, to celebrate the Peace of Dresden), Bach also used the 1724 Sanctus, and that this revisiting of the 1733 Missa suggested further development to the composer.
- In the "last three years or so" of his life, Bach wrote/assembled the Symbolum Nicenum and the remainder of the work; many scholars, including Christoph Wolff, believe he did so in 1748–49. This dating in part reflects the scholarship of Yoshitake Kobayashi, who dates the Symbolum Nicenum section to August –October 1748 based on Bach's increasingly stiff and labored handwriting. Wolff among others argues that the "Et incarnatus est" movement was Bach's last significant composition. The words had been included in the preceding duet, but then Bach decided to treat them as a separate movement for the choir, giving the words extra weight and improving the symmetry of the Credo. John Butt argues that a definite final date of August 25, 1749 can be given, in that on this date C. P. E. Bach completed a setting of the Magnificat with an "Amen" chorus that "shows distinct similarities" to the 'Gratias' from the Missa and the 'Ex expecto' from the Symbolum Nicenum." C. P. E. Bach later reported that he performed this Magnificat (Wq 215) in 1749 in Leipzig "at a Marian festival ... during the lifetime of his now-deceased father".
Bach did not give the B minor Mass a title. Instead, he organized the 1748–49 manuscript into four folders, each with a different title. That containing the Kyrie and Gloria he called "1. Missa"; that containing the Credo he titled "2. Symbolum Nicenum"; the third folder, containing the Sanctus, he called "3. Sanctus"; and the remainder, in a fourth folder he titled "4. Osanna | Benedictus | Agnus Dei et | Dona nobis pacem". John Butt writes, "The format seems purposely designed so that each of the four sections could be used separately." On the other hand, the parts in the manuscript are numbered from 1 to 4, and Bach's usual closing formula (S.D.G = Soli Deo Gloria) is only found at the end of the Dona Nobis Pacem. Further, Butt writes, "What is most remarkable about the overall shape of the Mass in B Minor is that Bach managed to shape a coherent sequence of movements from diverse material." Butt and George Stauffer detail the ways in which Bach gave overall musical unity to the work.
The first overall title given to the work was in the 1790 estate of the recently deceased C.P.E. Bach, who inherited the score. There, it is called "Die grosse catholische Messe" (the "Great Catholic Mass"). It is called that as well in the estate of his last heir in 1805, suggesting to Stauffer that "the epithet reflects an oral tradition within the Bach family". The first publication of the Kyrie and Gloria, in 1833 by the Swiss collector Hans Georg Nägeli with Simrock, refers to it as "Messe" Finally, Nageli and Simrock produced the first publication in 1845, calling it the "High Mass in B Minor" (Hohe Messe in h-moll). The adjective "high", Butt argues, was "strongly influenced by the monumental impact of Beethoven's Missa solemnis." It soon fell from common usage, but the prepositional phrase "in B Minor" survives, even though it is in some ways misleading: only five of the work's 27 movements are in B minor, while twelve, including the final ones of each of the four major sections, are in D major (the relative major of B minor). The opening Kyrie, however, is in B minor, with the Christe Eleison in D major, and the second Kyrie in F-sharp minor; as Butt points out, these tonalities outline a B minor chord.
The piece is orchestrated for two flutes, two oboes d'amore, one natural horn (in D), three trumpets (in D), timpani, violins I and II, violas and basso continuo (cellos, basses, bassoons, organ and harpsichord).
In Bach's lifetime
Bach conducted the Sanctus, in its first version, at the 1724 Christmas service in Leipzig, and re-used it in Christmas services in the mid-1740s. Scholars differ on whether he ever performed the 1733 Missa. Arnold Schering (in 1936) asserted that it was performed in Leipzig on April 26, 1733, when Augustus III of Poland visited the town, but modern scholars reject his argument for several reasons: 1) the proposed date fell during an official period of mourning "when concerted music was forbidden in Saxon churches"; 2) the extant parts (on which Schering based his hypothesis) are written on a paper found only in documents in Dresden, so were probably copied in Dresden when Bach went there in July; and 3) the copyists were not Bach's usual ones, but Bach and immediate family members (who traveled with him to Dresden)—his wife Anna Magdalena, sons Wilhelm Friedemann and Carl Philipp Emanuel—and a Dresden copyist.
Scholars differ, however, on whether the Missa was performed in July in Dresden. Christoph Wolff argues that on July 26, 1733 at the Sophienkirche in Dresden, where Wilhelm Friedemann Bach had been organist since June, it "was definitely performed … as evidenced by the extant Dresden performing parts and by the inscription on the title wrapper" given to the king the next day. Hans-Joachim Schulze made this case by pointing to the use of the past tense in the wrapper's inscription: "To his royal majesty was shown with the enclosed Missa...the humble devotion of the author J. S. Bach." However, Joshua Rikfin rejects the argument, pointing out that the past-tense wording was typical of formal address often not related to performance. Also skeptical is Peter Williams, who notes that "there is no record of performers being assembled for such an event, and in August 1731 Friedemann reported that the Sophienkirche organ was badly out of tune." However, there is evidence of an organ recital by Bach at the Sophienkirche on 14 September 1731, and Friedemann Bach was only chosen as Organist for the institution on 23 June 1733. He would again perform a 2-hour Organ recital on 1 December 1736 at the Frauenkirche Dresden to inaugurate the new Gottfried Silbermann organ.
Scholars agree that no other public performances took place in Bach's lifetime, although Butt raises the possibility that there may have been a private performance or read-through of the Symbolum Nicenum late in Bach's life.
Later 18th century
The first public performance of the Symbolum Nicenum section (under the title "Credo or Nicene Creed") took place 36 years after Bach's death, in Spring of 1786, led by his son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach at a benefit concert for the Medical Institute for the Poor in Hamburg.
As recounted by George Stauffer, the next documented performance (not public) in the nineteenth century was when Carl Friedrich Zelter—a key figure in the 19th-century Bach revival—led the Berlin Singakademie in read-throughs of the "Great Mass" in 1811, covering the Kyrie; in 1813 he led read-throughs of the entire work. The first public performance in the century—of just the Credo section—took place in Frankfurt in March, 1828, with over 200 performers and many instrumental additions. In the same year in Berlin, Gaspare Spontini led the Credo section, adding 15 new choral parts and numerous instruments. A number of performances of sections of the Mass took place in the following decades in Europe, but the first attested public performance of the Mass in its entirety took place in 1859 in Leipzig, with Karl Riedel and the Riedel-Verein.
The Bach Choir of Bethlehem performed the American premiere of the complete Mass on March 27, 1900, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, though there is evidence that parts of the Mass had been performed in the USA as early as 1870.
From early in the century, authors such as Albert Schweitzer, Arnold Schering, and Frederick Smend called for smaller performance forces, and experiments with (relatively) smaller groups began in the late 1920s.
The first complete recording of the work was made in 1929, with a large choir and the London Symphony Orchestra led by Albert Coates. As of 2013, a database lists over 200 recordings with many different types of forces and performance styles. The work has played a central role in the historical performance movement: Nikolaus Harnoncourt made the first recording with period instruments in 1968 (his second Bach choral recording), and won High Fidelity's best record of the year award; Joshua Rifkin's first recording using the one-voice-per-part vocal scoring he proposes was made in 1982, and won a 1983 Gramophone Award.
The Mass in B minor is the consecration of a whole life: started in 1733 for "diplomatic" reasons, it was finished in the very last years of Bach's life, when he had already gone blind. This monumental work is a synthesis of every stylistic and technical contribution the Cantor of Leipzig made to music. But it is also the most astounding spiritual encounter between the worlds of Catholic glorification and the Lutheran cult of the cross.
Scholars have suggested that the Mass in B minor belongs in the same category as The Art of Fugue, as a summation of Bach's deep lifelong involvement with musical tradition—in this case, with choral settings and theology. Bach scholar Christoph Wolff describes the work as representing "a summary of his writing for voice, not only in its variety of styles, compositional devices, and range of sonorities, but also in its high level of technical polish ... Bach's mighty setting preserved the musical and artistic creed of its creator for posterity."
The Mass was described in the 19th century by the editor Hans Georg Nägeli as "The Announcement of the Greatest Musical Work of All Times and All People" ("Ankündigung des größten musikalischen Kunstwerkes aller Zeiten und Völker"). Even though it had never been performed, its importance was appreciated by some of Bach's greatest successors—by the beginning of the 19th century Forkel and Haydn possessed copies, and Beethoven made two attempts to acquire a score.
Sources and editions
Two autograph sources exist: the parts for the Kyrie and Gloria sections that Bach deposited in Dresden in 1733, and the score of the complete work that Bach compiled in 1748–50, which was inherited by C.P.E. Bach (the autograph has been published in facsimile from the source in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. However, for his 1786 public performance of the Symbolum Nicenum, C.P.E. Bach, as was typical practice in the era, made additions to the autograph score for performance—adding a 28-bar introduction, replacing the now-obsolete oboe d'amore with newer instruments (clarinets, oboes, or violins) and making other changes in instrumentation for his own aesthetic reasons—and also wrote in his own solutions to reading some passages made nearly illegible by Bach's late-life handwriting problems. For this and other reasons, the Mass in B minor poses a considerable challenge to prospective editors, and substantial variations can be noted in different editions, even critical urtext editions. When the Bach Gesellschaft edition was published in 1856, problems were so evident that the society published a revised edition the next year—which was, however, eventually recognized to be even less accurate. Similarly, the 1954 edition by the Neue Bach-Ausgabe was shown to be severely faulty within five years.
Recent decades have seen the publication of two new scholarly editions: those of Christoph Wolff, published by Peters in 1997, and Joshua Rifkin, published by Breitkopf & Härtel in 2006. Wolff uses two copies of the 1748–50 manuscript made before C.P.E. Bach's adulterations to try to reconstruct Bach's original readings, and seeks to recover performance details by using all available sources including movements that Bach reworked in the B minor Mass. Rifkin, too, seeks to remove the C.P.E. Bach emendations, but differs from Wolff in arguing that the 1748–50 work is, to quote John Butt, "essentially a different entity from the 1733 Missa, and that a combination of the 'best' readings from both does not really correspond to Bach's final (and virtually completed) conception of the work"; Rifkin's version seeks to adhere to this final version.
Movements and their sources
The work consists of 27 sections. Tempo and metrical information and parodied sources come from Christoph Wolff's 1997 critical urtext edition, and from George Stauffer's Bach: The Mass in B Minor. except where noted. Regarding sources, Stauffer, summarizing current research as of 1997, states that "Specific models or fragments can be pinpointed for eleven of the work's twenty-seven movements" and that "two other movements [the "Domine Deus" and "Et resurrexit"] are most probably derived from specific, now lost sources." But Stauffer adds "there is undoubtedly much more borrowing than this." Exceptions are the opening four bars of the first Kyrie, the Et incarnatus est and Confiteor.
Butt points out that "only with a musical aesthetic later than Bach's does the concept of parody (adapting existing vocal music to a new text) appear in an unfavourable light" while it was "almost unavoidable" in Bach's day; he further notes that "by abstracting movements from what he evidently considered some of his finest vocal works, originally performed for specific occasions and Sundays within the Church's year, he was doubtless attempting to preserve the pieces within the more durable context of the Latin Ordinary." Details of the parodied movements and their sources are given below.
I. Kyrie and Gloria ("Missa")
- Kyrie eleison (1st). Five-part chorus (Soprano I, II, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in B minor, marked Adagio (in the four-bar choral introduction), then Largo in the main section, autograph time signature of or common time. Joshua Rifkin argues that, except for the opening four bars, the movement is based on a previous version in C minor, since examination of autograph sources reveals "a number of apparent transposition errors". John Butt concurs: "Certainly, much of the movement—like many others with no known models—seems to have been copied from an earlier version."
- Christe eleison. Duet (soprano I, II) in D major with obbligato violins, no autograph tempo marking, time signature of .
- Kyrie eleison (2nd). Four-part chorus (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in F-sharp minor, marked "alla breve", and (in the 1748–50 score)"stromenti in unisono". Autograph time signature is ₵. Stauffer points out (p. 49)that "the four-part vocal writing... points to a model conceived outside the context of a five-voice Mass."
- Note the 9 (trinitarian, 3 × 3) movements with the largely symmetrical structure, and Domine Deus in the centre.
- Gloria in excelsis. Five-part chorus (Soprano I, II, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in D major, marked Vivace in the 1733 first violin and cello parts, 3/8 time signature. In the mid-1740s, Bach reused this as the opening chorus of his cantata Gloria in excelsis Deo, BWV 191.
- Et in terra pax. Five-part chorus (Soprano I, II, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in D major, no autograph tempo marking, time signature of ; in the autographs no double bar separates it from the preceding Gloria section. Again, Bach reused the music in the opening chorus of BWV 191.
- Laudamus te. Aria (soprano II) in A major with violin obbligato, no autograph tempo marking, time signature of .
- Gratias agimus tibi. 4-part chorus (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in D major, marked alla breve, time signature of ₵. The music is a reworking of the second movement of Bach's 1731 Ratswechsel (Town Council Inauguration) cantata Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir, BWV 29, in which the time signature is the number 2 with a slash through it. (Stauffer adds that both may have an earlier common source.)
- Domine Deus. Duet (soprano I, tenor) in G major with flute obbligato and muted strings, no autograph tempo marking, time signature of . The music appears as a duet in BWV 191. In the 1733 parts, Bach indicates a "Lombard rhythm" in the slurred two-note figures in the flute part; he does not indicate it in the final score or in BWV 191. Stauffer points out (p. 246) that this rhythm was popular in Dresden in 1733; it is possible that Bach added in the 1733 parts to appeal to tastes at the Dresden court and that he no longer wanted it used in the 1740s, or that he still preferred it but no longer notated it.
- Qui tollis peccata mundi. 4-part chorus (Soprano II, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in B minor, marked adagio in the two violin 1 parts from 1733 and lente in the cello, continuo, and alto parts from 1733; 3/4 time signature. No double bar separates it from the preceding movement in the autograph. The chorus is a reworking of the first half of the opening movement of the 1723 cantata Schauet doch und sehet, ob irgend ein Schmerz sei, BWV 46. In the autograph sources no double bar separates it from the previous movement.
- Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris. Aria (alto) in B minor with oboe d'amore obbligato, no autograph tempo marking, 6/8 time signature.
- Quoniam tu solus sanctus. Aria (bass) in D major with obbligato parts for solo corno da caccia (hunting horn or Waldhorn) and two bassoons, no autograph tempo marking, 3/4 time signature. Stauffer notes that the unusual scoring shows Bach writing specifically for the strengths of the orchestra in Dresden: while Bach wrote no music for two obbligato bassoons in his Leipzig cantatas, such scoring was common for works others composed in Dresden, "which boasted as many as five bassoonists", and that Dresden was a noted center for horn playing. Peter Damm has argued that Bach designed the horn solo specifically for the Dresden horn soloist Johann Adam Schindler, whom Bach had almost certainly heard in Dresden in 1731. Regarding lost original sources, Stauffer says, "A number of writers have viewed the clean appearance of the "Quoniam" and the finely detailed performance instructions in the autograph score as signs that this movement is also a parody." Klaus Hafner argues that the bassoon lines were, in the original, written for oboe, and that in this original a trumpet, not the horn, was the solo instrument. John Butt agrees, adding as evidence that Bach originally notated both bassoon parts with the wrong clefs, both indicating a range an octave higher than the final version, and then corrected the error, and adding that "oboe parts would almost certainly have been scored with trumpet rather than horn." Stauffer, however, entertains the possibility that it may be new music.
- Cum Sancto Spiritu. Five-part chorus (Soprano I, II, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in D major, marked Vivace, 3/4 time signature. Bach reused the music in modified form as the closing chorus of BWV 191. As to origins, Donald Francis Tovey argued that it is based on a lost choral movement from which Bach removed the opening instrumental ritornello, saying "I am as sure as I can be of anything". Hafner agrees, and like Tovey, has offered a reconstruction of the lost ritornello; he also points to notational errors (again involving clefs) suggesting that the lost original was in four parts, and that Bach added the Soprano 2 line when converting the original into the Cum Santo Spiritu chorus. Rifkin argues from the neat handwriting in the instrumental parts of the final score that the movement is based on a lost original, and he argues from the musical structure, which involves two fugues, that the original was probably a lost cantatas from the middle or late 1720s, when Bach was especially interested in such structures. Stauffer is agnostic on the question.
II. Credo ("Symbolum Nicenum")
- Note the 9 movements with the symmetrical structure, and the crucifixion at the centre.
- Credo in unum Deum. Five-part chorus (Soprano I, II, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in A mixolydian, no autograph tempo marking, ₵. Stauffer identifies an earlier Credo in unum Deum chorus in G major, probably from 1748–49.
- Patrem omnipotentem. Four-part chorus (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in D major, no autograph tempo marking, time signature of 2 with a slash through it in the autograph manuscript. The music is a reworking of the opening chorus of Gott, wie dein Name, so ist auch dein Ruhm, BWV 171.
- Et in unum Dominum. Duet (soprano I, alto) in G major, marked Andante, . Stauffer derives it from a "lost duet, considered for "Ich bin deine", BWV 213/11 (1733)
- Et incarnatus est. Five-part chorus (Soprano I, II, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in B minor, no autograph tempo marking, 3/4 time signature.
- Crucifixus. Four-part chorus (Soprano II, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in E minor, no autograph tempo marking, 3/2 time signature. The music is a reworking of the first section of the first chorus of the 1714 cantata Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen, BWV 12.
- Et resurrexit. Five-part chorus (Soprano I, II, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in D major, no autograph tempo marking, 3/4 time signature.
- Et in Spiritum Sanctum. Aria (Bass) in A major with oboi d'amore obbligati, no autograph tempo marking, 6/8 time signature.
- Confiteor. Five-part chorus (Soprano I, II, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in F-sharp minor, no autograph tempo marking (until the transitional music in bar 121, which is marked "adagio"), ₵ time signature. John Butt notes that "the only positive evidence of Bach actually composing afresh within the entire score of the mass is in the 'Confiteor' section", by which he means, "composing the music directly into the autograph. Even the most unpracticed eye can see the difference between this and surrounding movements"; one part of the final transitional music is "still illegible...and necessitates the conjectures of a judicious editor."
- Et expecto. Five-part chorus (Soprano I, II, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in D major, marked Vivace ed allegro, implicitly in ₵ (as it is not set off with a double bar in the autograph from the Confiteor). The music is a reworking of the second movement of Bach's 1728 Ratswechsel (Town Council Inauguration) cantata Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille, BWV 120 on the words Jauchzet, ihr erfreute Stimmen.
- Sanctus. Six-part chorus (Soprano I, II, Alto I, II, Tenor, Bass) in D major, no autograph tempo marking, time signature; leading immediately—without double bar in the sources—into the Pleni sunt coeli , marked Vivace, 3/8 time signature. Derived from an earlier 3 soprano, 1 alto work written in 1724; in that 1724 Sanctus the first section was marked in ₵, perhaps suggesting a tempo faster than what Bach conceived of when he finally re-used it in the Mass.
IV. Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei and Dona Nobis Pacem
- Osanna. Double chorus (both four parts) in D major, no autograph tempo marking, 3/8 time signature. A reworking of the A section of the chorus "Es lebe der König" (BWV Anh. 11/1 from 1732) or of "Preise dein Glücke" (BWV 215) from 1734.
- Benedictus. Aria for tenor with obbligato instrument in B minor, no autograph tempo marking, 3/4 time signature. Butt writes that Bach "forgot to specify the instrument" for the obbligato; Stauffer adds the possibilities that Bach had not decided which instrument to use or that he was "indifferent" and left the choice open. The Bach-Ausgabe edition assigned it to the violin, and Stauffer suggests this choice may have been influenced by Beethoven's use of the violin in the Benedictus of his Missa solemnis. Modern editors and performers have preferred the flute; as Butt notes, the part never uses the G-string of the violin, and modern commentators "consider the range and style to be more suitable for the transverse flute."
- Osanna (da capo). As above.
- Agnus Dei. Aria for alto in G minor with violin obbligato, no autograph tempo marking, time signature. Parody of an aria, "Enfernet euch, ihr kalten Herzen" ("Withdraw, you cold heart"), from a lost wedding serenade (1725). Bach also re-used the wedding aria for the alto aria, "Ach, bleibe doch", of his 1735 Ascension Oratorio Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen, BWV 11; Alfred Dürr has demonstrated that Bach adapted both "Ach, bleibe doch" and the Agnus dei directly from the lost serenade's aria, rather than from one to the next.
- Dona nobis pacem. 4-part chorus in D major, no autograph tempo marking, ₵ time signature. The music is almost identical to "Gratias agimus tibi" from the Gloria.
- "Bach Mass in B minor". STL Symphony. Retrieved 2012-05-27.
- "Mass in B Minor Tickets – Mass in B Minor Concert Tour Schedule – Mass in B Minor Ticket Broker". Coasttocoasttickets.com. 2009-05-26. Retrieved 2012-05-27.
- "Bach: Mass in B minor, Rome". it: Classictic.com. Retrieved 2012-05-27.
- "Bach's Mass in B Minor » St James' Church". Cityrecitalhall.com. Retrieved 2012-05-27.
- An English translation of the letter is given in Hans T. David and Arthur Mendel, The Bach Reader: A Life of Johann Sebastian Bach in Letters and Documents, W. W. Norton & Company, 1945, p. 128. (Also in The New Bach Reader: A Life of Johann Sebastian Bach in Letters and Documents revised by Christoph Wolff, W. W. Norton & Co Inc, 1998, ISBN 978-0-393-04558-1, p. 158.)
- Stauffer, pp. 258–59.
- Christoph Wolff, Bach: The Learned Musician, W.W. Norton, 2000, p. 265, ISBN=0-393-04825-X
- Peter Williams, J.S. Bach: A Life in Music, Cambridge University Press, 2007, pp. 259, ISBN=978-0-521-87074-0
- Gregory Butler, "Johann Sebastian Bachs Gloria in excelsis Deo BWV 191: Musik für ein Leipziger Dankfest", Bach Jahrbuch 78 (1992), pp. 65–71
- Yoshitake Kobayahsi, "Zur Chronologie der Spätwerke Johann Sebastian Bachs, Kompositions- und Auffuhrungstätigket vom 1736–50" Bach-Jahrbuch 74 (1988): 7–72
- Christoph Wolff, Bach: Essays on his Life and Music, Harvard University Press,, 1991: p. 332
- Christoph Wolff, h-Moll-Messe, Berlin Philharmonic 12 October 2006
- John Butt, Bach: Mass in B Minor (Cambridge Music Handbooks), Cambridge University Press, 1991, ISBN 978-0-521-38716-3, pp. 20–21.
- "an einem Marienfeste . . . noch zu den Lebzeiten des nunmehro seligen Herrn Vaters." Bach-Dokumente III, 703.
- John Butt, "Mass in B Minor", in Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach, ed. Malcolm Boyd and John Butt, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 284
- John Butt, "Mass in B Minor", in Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach, ed. Malcolm Boyd and John Butt, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 286
- John Butt, Bach: Mass in B Minor, Cambridge University Press, 1991, pp. 92–101
- George B. Stauffer, Bach: The Mass in B Minor, Schirmer Books, 1997, pp. 250–55
- George Stauffer, Bach: The Mass in B Minor, p. 180
- "Bach: h-Moll-Messe I". Zentralbibliothek Zürich.
- "BACH, JOHANN SEBASTIAN.". Invaluable.com.
- John Butt, "Mass in B Minor", in Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach, ed. Malcolm Boyd and John Butt, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 287
- George F. Stauffer, Bach, the Mass in B Minor: The Great Catholic Mass, Yale University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-300-09966-5, ISBN 978-0-300-09966-9, p. 34.
- Stauffer, Bach: The Mass in B Minor, pp. 34.
- Stauffer, Bach, the Mass in B Minor: The Great Catholic Mass p. 34.
- John Butt, Bach: Mass in B Minor (Cambridge Music Handbooks), Cambridge University Press, 1991, ISBN 978-0-521-38716-3, pp. 10–11.
- Christoph Wolff, Bach: The Learned Musician, W.W. Norton, 2000, pp. 368–370, ISBN=0-393-04825-X
- "Gegen /S..Koniglichen Hoheit und/ ChurFurstlichen Durchlaucht zu/ Sachssen/ besizgte mit inliegener/ Missa.... Seine unterthanigste Devotion der Autor J. S. Bach"; translation John Butt, Bach: Mass in B Minor pp. 11–12.
- Joshua Rifkin, Review of facsimile editions of Bach's Mass in B Minor, Notes 44 (1988), pp. 787–98
- Peter Williams, J.S. Bach: A Life in Music, Cambridge University Press, 2007, pp. 219–20, ISBN=978-0-521-87074-0
- John Butt, Bach: Mass in B Minor, pp. 20–21.
- Stauffer, Bach: The Mass in B Minor, pp. 182–83.
- Stauffer, Bach: The Mass in B Minor, pp. 187–98.
- Butt, p. 31.
- Stauffer, Bach: The Mass in B Minor, pp. 198–203.
- "Mass in B Minor, BWV 232 (by Teri Noel Towe)".
- "Mass in B minor BWV 232 – Recordings Part 1: 1900–1949".
- Nonesuch 79036-2, 1982
- "The 'Great Mass' in B minor" in the booklet to the recording by Philippe Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale Gent, released from Harmonia Mundi, HML5901614.15, 1999.
- Christoph Wolff, Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician, W. W. Norton & Company, 2000, ISBN 0-393-32256-4, pp. 441–42.
- 'Markus Rathey, Johann Sebastian Bach's Mass in B Minor: The Greatest Artwork of All Times and All People The Tangeman Lecture delivered April 18, 2003
- John Butt Mass in B Minor—Bach's only complete setting of the latin ordinary of the Mass
- "Facsimile Announcement".
- Stauffer, Bach: The Mass in B Minor, pp. 183–85.
- Butt, Bach: Mass in B Minor, p. 26.
- Butt, Bach: Mass in B Minor, pp. 30-31
- Georg von Dadelsen (1959). Friedrich Smends Ausgabe der h-moll-Messe von J.S. Bach (in German) 12. Die Musikforschung. pp. 315–34.
- Johann Sebastian Bach, Messe in h-Moll BWV 232. Neue Ausgabe (C. F. Peters: Frankfurt/Main, 1997), 408 pp.
- "Breitkopf & Härtel – Bach, Johann Sebastian (1685–1750): Messe h-moll BWV 232" (in German). Retrieved 18 May 2013.
- George Stauffer, Bach: Mass in B Minor, Schirmer, 1997, p. 268
- John Butt. "notes to the recording of the B minor Mass by the Dunedin Consort, Linn CDK 354". Retrieved 18 May 2013.
- Stauffer, Bach: The Mass in B Minor, p. 294.
- Stauffer, Bach: The Mass in B Minor, pp. 48–49.
- Butt, p. 44.
- Butt, p. 56.
- John Butt, Bach: Mass in B Minor (Cambridge Music Handbooks), Cambridge University Press, 1991, ISBN 978-0-521-38716-3, p. 42.
- John Butt, "Mass in B Minor", from Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach, ed. Malcolm Boyd and John Butt, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 285
- Joshua Rifkin, "The B-Minor Mass and its Performance", liner notes to Rifkin's recording of the work, Nonesuch 79036-2, 1982
- John Butt, "Mass in B Minor", in Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach, ed. Malcolm Boyd and John Butt, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 285
- Stauffer, Bach: the Mass in B Minor, p. 90
- Peter Damm, "Zur Ausfuhrung des 'Corne da Caccia' im Quoniam der Missa h-Moll von J. S. Bach," Bach Jahrbuch 70 (1984), pp. 91–105
- Stauffer, Bach: the Mass in B Minor, p. 95
- Klaus Hafner, "Uber die Herkunft von zwei Satzen der h-Moll-Messe," Bach-Jahrbuch 63 (1977): 55–74
- John Butt, Bach: Mass in B Minor, p. 49
- Stauffer, Bach: the Mass in B Minor, p. 92
- Donald Francis Tovey, Essays in Musical Analysis, Oxford University Press, 1935–39, vol. 5, pp. 34–35
- Butt, Bach: Mass in B Minor, p. 56
- Butt, Bach: Mass in B Minor, p. 58
- Stauffer, Bach: The Mass in B Minor, p. 159
- Alfred Dürr, ""Enfernet euch, ihr kalten Herzen": Moglichkeiten und Grenzen der Rekonstruktionen einer Bach-Arie" Musikforschung 39 (1986): pp. 32–36
- Bach-cantatas.com Text (and its translation in several languages), details, list of recordings, reviews, and wide-ranging discussions.
- Mass in B minor: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Free scores of this work in the Choral Public Domain Library (ChoralWiki).
- Jsbach.org List of recommended recordings.
- Timothy A. Smith (Northern Arizona University), "Bach's Mass in B Minor as a Musical Icon". Lecture at the Ball State University in 1995.
- Mass in B Minor (Flash) at the Oregon Bach Festival.
- Gutmann, Peter. "Classical Notes – Classical Classics – Bach's Mass in B Minor". Classicalnotes.net. Retrieved November 2012.