Bach's church music in Latin

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Church music in Latin by Johann Sebastian Bach comprises about ten compositions, all composed during his Leipzig period. As a Lutheran church musician, Bach was more devoted to the composition of sacred music in German, writing hundreds of liturgical compositions in that language, and for instance also producing a German version of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater. Compared to Lutheran practice elsewhere, an uncharacteristic amount of Latin was however used in church services in Leipzig:[1] it included music on Latin texts being performed on ordinary Sundays,[2] on high holidays (Christmas, Easter, Pentecost), and the Magnificat also on Marian feasts (Annunciation, Visitation, Purification).

In Lutheran service, a Missa was a setting of only Kyrie and Gloria. Such a mass consisting of only Kyrie and Gloria is for that time period sometimes indicated as Missa brevis (literally: "short mass"). In 1733 Bach composed such a Missa brevis for the Catholic court in Dresden, however in an extended setting. In the late 1730s he again composed four Missae breves, mostly parodies of earlier cantata movements. At the end of his life he expanded the Missa for Dresden to his only setting of the complete Mass ordinary, the Mass in B minor.

Magnificat[edit]

Bach composed the Magnificat in E-flat major, BWV 243a, in 1723, and then revised it in 1733 to the better known Magnificat in D major, BWV 243.

Magnificat in E-flat major, BWV 243a (1723)[edit]

A few weeks after arriving at his new post as Thomaskantor in Leipzig in 1723, Bach presented a Magnificat for SSATB voices and orchestra at the Marian feast of Visitation (2 July)

Later that year, for Christmas, he presented this Magnificat again, with additionally four inserted hymns related to the celebration of that feast.

Magnificat in D major, BWV 243 (1733)[edit]

Further information: Magnificat in D major, BWV 243

In 1733 Bach again presented this Magnificat, but transposed to the key of D major and in a somewhat more elaborated orchestration, for the feast of Visitation. It is this version of his Magnificat that would become the most frequently performed version.

Settings of (parts of) the Latin mass liturgy[edit]

A mass or missa of Johann Sebastian Bach is in general a composition of the Latin Mass by the German Baroque composer. More specifically, Missa (sometimes Missa brevis or Lutheran Mass) refers to one of his four short masses in F major, A major, G minor and G major, BWV 233 to 236. These masses consist of a Kyrie and a Gloria. Bach composed an especially extensive setting, the Mass for the Dresden court (Kyrie and Gloria in B minor) in 1733 for presentation to the royal court in Dresden. It became, in the last years of his life and in revised form, the first two sections of his only setting of the complete ordinary of the Mass, known today as the Mass in B minor, BWV 232.

Separate Sanctus settings, BWV 237–241[edit]

BWV 237 to 241 are separate settings of the Sanctus. The first two of these (C major, BWV 237 and D major, BWV 238) were composed in 1723, his first year in Leipzig. It is doubtful whether the Sanctus BWV 239 was composed by Bach. The Sanctus BWV 241 is an arrangement of the Sanctus from Johann Caspar Kerll's Missa superba.

Mass in B minor, BWV 232, and related earlier compositions[edit]

Further information: Mass in B minor structure

Sanctus for six vocal parts (1724)[edit]

In 1724 Bach composed a Sanctus for six vocal parts (SSSATB) and elaborate orchestral score for the Christmas service. Bach revised it when he reused it in the Mass in B minor, changing its initial vocal scoring to SSAATB, and its meter from to C.[3][4]

Mass for the court at Dresden (1733)[edit]

In 1733, Bach composed an extended Missa for the court in Dresden, a setting of two parts of the Latin mass, the Kyrie and Gloria, scored for five vocal parts and orchestra. Later he derived the cantata Gloria in excelsis Deo, BWV 191 from this Missa in B minor, and included the Missa to his Mass in B minor, BWV 232.

Cantata Gloria in excelsis Deo, BWV 191 (around 1745)[edit]

Further information: Gloria in excelsis Deo, BWV 191

Bach used three movements of the Gloria of the Mass for the Dresden court to compose his cantata Gloria in excelsis Deo, BWV 191, possibly for a performance in 1745.[4] The cantata was composed for a Christmas service sometime in the mid-1740s (between 1743 and 1746).[5]

Mass in B minor, BWV 232 (around 1748–49)[edit]

Further information: Mass in B minor

In the last years of his life, Bach integrated the complete Mass for the Dresden court (Bach) as Kyrie and Gloria in his Mass in B minor, his only complete mass (or missa tota).[6] Scoring and structure are identical with the later work. Another part of this Mass was derived from the 1724 Sanctus for six vocal parts. Also the music of several movements of his earlier German cantatas was integrated in this mass.

Hans Georg Nägeli described the work, in 1818, as "the greatest musical art work of all times and nations."[7]

Bach's short masses BWV 233–236 (1738–39?)[edit]

Lysa castle, possibly the location of performances of BWV 233 to 236

Bach wrote four other settings of Kyrie and Gloria, sometimes called Missa brevis. The attribute brevis in this case means short in words, unlike the Missa brevis of the classical period which is short in duration. Sometimes the works are termed Lutheran mass, because the combination of only Kyrie and Gloria was used more frequently in the Lutheran liturgy.

They seem to have been intended for liturgical use, considering a performance time of about 20 minutes each, the average duration of a Bach cantata. They may have been composed around 1738/39.[8] Possibly they were written for Count Franz Anton von Sporck or performed by him in Lysá.[9]

Each Missa is in six movements, the Kyrie one choral movement in three sections, the Gloria in five movements. The first and last movement of the Gloria are also choral, framing three arias for different voice types. The music consists mostly of parodies of cantata movements.[10] He changed the music slightly to adjust to the Latin words, but kept the original instrumentation. The opening chorus of Es wartet alles auf dich, BWV 187, became the final movement of the Missa in G minor, Cum sancto spiritu. Occasionally he switched a voice part, for example he asked for a tenor in the Quoniam of that Missa, a parody of the soprano aria Halt ich nur fest an ihm of that cantata.

Missa in F major, BWV 233[edit]

For the Missa in F major, BWV 233, scored for horns, oboes, bassoon, strings, SATB, and basso continuo,[11] Bach derived most of the six movements from earlier cantatas as parodies.

No. Title Voice Base
  1 Kyrie eleison – Christe eleison – Kyrie eleison Chorus earlier version: BWV 233a
  2 Gloria in excelsis Chorus
  3 Domine Deus Bass perhaps BWV Anh18[12]
  4 Qui tollis Soprano BWV 102
  5 Quoniam Alto BWV 102
  6 Cum sancto Spiritu Chorus BWV 40

Missa in A major, BWV 234[edit]

For the Missa in A major, BWV 234, scored for flute, strings, SATB, and basso continuo, Bach parodied music from at least four earlier cantatas.

No. Title Voice Base
  1 Kyrie eleison – Christe eleison – Kyrie eleison Chorus
  2 Gloria in excelsis Chorus BWV 67/6
  3 Domine Deus Bass
  4 Qui tollis Soprano BWV 179/5
  5 Quoniam Alto BWV 79
  6 Cum sancto Spiritu Chorus Vivace part: BWV 136 (Opening chorus)

Missa in G minor, BWV 235[edit]

For the Missa in G minor, BWV 235, scored for oboes, strings, SATB, basso continuo, Bach derived all six movements from cantatas as parodies.

No. Title Voice Base
  1 Kyrie eleison – Christe eleison – Kyrie eleison Chorus BWV 102
  2 Gloria in excelsis Chorus BWV 72
  3 Gratias Bass BWV 187/4
  4 Domine Fili Alto BWV 187/3
  5 Qui tollisQuoniam Tenor BWV 187/5
  6 Cum sancto Spiritu Chorus BWV 187

Missa in G major, BWV 236[edit]

For the Missa in G major, BWV 236, scored for oboes, strings, SATB, basso continuo, Bach derived all six movements from cantatas as parodies.

No. Title Voice Base
  1 Kyrie eleison – Christe eleison – Kyrie eleison Chorus BWV 179
  2 Gloria in excelsis Chorus BWV 79
  3 Gratias Bass BWV 138
  4 Domine Deus Soprano, alto BWV 79
  5 Quoniam Tenor BWV 179
  6 Cum sancto Spritu Chorus BWV 17

Christe eleison in G minor, BWV 242[edit]

BWV 242, a Christe eleison in G minor, was composed by Bach for a mass by Francesco Durante, BWV Anh. 26[13]

Discography[edit]

BWV 191, Gloria in excelsis Deo 
See Gloria in excelsis Deo, BWV 191#Selected recordings
BWV 232(a), Missa/Mass in B minor 
See Mass in B minor discography
BWV 233–236, Missa in F major, A major, G minor and G major
BWV 237–242, separate Sanctus and Christe Eleison compositions
  • Sanctus BWV 238: Brilliant Classics 99376/4
BWV 243–243a, Magnificat 
See Magnificat (Bach)#Reception history and Magnificat in E-flat major, BWV 243a#Selected recordings

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Spitta, Philipp. "Book V: Leipzig, 1723-1734" in Johann Sebastian Bach: his work and influence on the music of Germany, 1685–1750, translated by Clara Bell and John Alexander Fuller-Maitland, In Three Volumes, Vol. II. London, Novello & Co, 1884. p. 264
  2. ^ Spitta 1884, p. 266 ff.
  3. ^ Christoph Wolff, Bach: The Learned Musician, W.W. Norton, 2000, p. 265, ISBN=0-393-04825-X
  4. ^ a b Steinitz, Margaret. "Bach's Latin Church Music". London Bach Society. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  5. ^ Peter Williams, J.S. Bach: A Life in Music, Cambridge University Press, 2007, pp. 259, ISBN=978-0-521-87074-0}
  6. ^ Laurson, Jens F. (2009). "Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) / Missa (1733)". musicweb-international.com. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  7. ^ "Missa in B Minor ("Kyrie" and "Gloria" of the B Minor Mass)". World Digital Library. 1733. Retrieved 2013-08-08. 
  8. ^ Christoph Wolff: Johann Sebastian Bach, 2nd edition 2007. S. Fischer, Frankfurt, ISBN 978-3-596-16739-5
  9. ^ "Count Frantisek Antonin von Sporck". baroquemusic.org. Retrieved 20 September 2010. 
  10. ^ Margaret Steinitz. "Bach's Latin Church Music". London Bach Society. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  11. ^ Missae Breves & Sanctus BWV 233–242 on bach-cantatas.com
  12. ^ Schmieder, Wolfgang (1969). Thematisch-systematisches Verzeichnis der Werke Johann Sebastian Bachs. Wiesbaden. 
  13. ^ Boyd, Malcolm (1999). Oxford Composer Companions: J.S. Bach. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. p. 299. ISBN 0-19-866208-4. 
  14. ^ "Missae Breves & Sanctus BWV 233-242 Recordings - Part 1". bach-cantatas.com. Retrieved 20 September 2010. 

External links[edit]