All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Mass in F Major

BWV 233 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society conducted by Hans-Christoph Rademann
Grote Kerk, Harlingen

"This wonderful Mass with the horns is another pearl among the works of Johann Sebastian Bach."


Bach made it difficult for himself.

“Whatever the case, this mass is a Sonderweg in Bach’s music”, says conductor Christoph Rademann. The opening, a dignified Kyrie, is written in an old style à la Palestrina. Bach composed this Kyrie in Weimar already, and in the five-voiced first version the first soprano sings the chorale melody 'Christe, du Lamm Gottes'. The words of this first version were partly in German, and it demanded great creativity to translate it into a full Latin version. The chorale melody is played by horns and oboes.

Bach anyway made it difficult for himself, as he incorporated earlier compositions into other parts as well. In the ‘Qui tollis’, for instance, we hear the originally passive oboe melody ‘Weh der Seele’ from the cantata Herr, deine Augen sehen nach dem Glauben, BWV 102. As regards sentiment, this is a good match for the ‘He who bears the sins of the world’. Here, too, Bach makes many small adjustments: the alto becomes a soprano, the music as a whole is tightened up, and there are little changes to the song line, including a brief step up especially for the word ‘Qui’, where in the original there was one long note for the word ‘Weh’. For the ‘Cum sancto spiritu’, Bach used the opening section of the cantata BWV 40.

'Lutheran' Masses, BWV 233-236

The four short masses written by Bach in the 1730s, are shrouded in mystery. These ‘Lutheran’ or ‘Short’ masses are in Latin, which is unusual for Bach, and consist of only a Kyrie and a Gloria. Moreover, Bach compiled these masses almost completely from material originating from a small number of sacred cantatas. It would seem reasonable to assume that Bach was creating a safe haven for some of his favourite pieces in these masses. Because of its neutral character, a Latin mass could be used on far more occasions than the one specific moment in the ecclesiastical year for which the German cantatas were intended. But the question remains of why Bach chose Latin. Maybe he wanted these masses to help strengthen the ties with the Catholic king August III, who had just come to the throne in Dresden. In any case, we know for certain that another Mass from this series, the Mass in B minor (which Bach later expanded) was dedicated to Augustus in 1733.


Mass in F Major

‘Lutheran’ or ‘Short’ mass

Latin Church Music (Mass)



Special notes
Compiled from music that was composed earlier: BWV 233a, BWV 102 and BWV 40.

Cast & Crew

Recording Date 23 January 2016
Release Date 21 October 2016
Location Grote Kerk, Harlingen
Conductor Hans-Christoph Rademann
Soprano Zsuzsi Tóth
Alto Elsbeth Gerritsen
Bass Matthew Brook
Ripieno Soprano Lauren Armishaw, Lucie Chartin
Ripieno alto Barnabás Hegyi, Bart Uvyn
Ripieno Tenor Daniel Johannsen, Immo Schröder, Kevin Skelton
Ripieno bass Sebastian Myrus, Drew Santini
Violin 1 Sayuri Yamagata, Anneke van Haaften, Annelies van der Vegt
Violin 2 Pieter Affourtit, Hanneke Wierenga, Lidewij van der Voort
Viola Staas Swierstra, Jan Willem Vis
Cello Lucia Swarts, Richte van der Meer
Double Bass Robert Franenberg
Oboe Martin Stadler, Peter Frankenberg
Bassoon Benny Aghassi
Horn Erwin Wieringa, Gijs Laceulle
Organ Bart Naessens
Harpsichord Siebe Henstra
Director Simon Aarden
Assistant director Ferenc Soetman
music recording Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt, Micha de Kanter
music editor Guido Tichelman
lights Daan de Boer, Arjen Seykens
Camera Bart ten Harkel, Thijs Struick, Chris Reichgelt
Image technique Vincent Nugteren
editor Pjotr 's-Gravesande
Project manager NEP Peter Ribbens
Technique Martin Struijf, Glenn van den Eerden, Marco Korzelius
Data management Jasper Blok
Producer concert Marco Meijdam, Imke Deters
Producer film Jessie Verbrugh

Vocal Texts


1. Chor

Kyrie eleison
Christe eleison
Kyrie eleison.

2. Chor

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.

3. Arie (Bass)

Domine Deus, rex coelestis,
Deus Pater omnipotens.
Domine Fili unigenite,
Jesu Christe.
Domine Deus, Agnus Dei,
Filius Patris.

4. Arie (Sopran)

Qui tollis peccata mundi,
miserere nobis.
Qui tollis peccata mundi,
suscipe deprecationem nostram.
Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
miserere nobis.

5. Arie (Alt)

Quoniam tu solus sanctus,
tu solus Dominus,
tu solus altissimus,
Jesu Christe.

6. Chor

Cum Sancto Spiritu
in gloria Dei Patris.


1. Chorus

Lord, have mercy
Christ, have mercy
Lord, have mercy.

2. Chorus

Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to men 
of good will.
We praise you, we bless you,
we worship you, we glorify you.
We give you thanks 
for your great glory.

3. Aria

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

4. Aria

Who takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.
Who takes away the sins of the world
receive our prayer,
who sits at the right hand of the Father,
have mercy on us.

5. Aria

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

6. Chorus

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


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