II Symbolum Nicenum (Credo)

1. Credo in unum Deum

2. Patrem omnipotentem

3. Et in unum Dominim

4. Et incarnatus est

5. Crucifixus

6. Et resurrexit

7. Et in Spiritum Sanctum

8. Confiteor

9. Et expecto

The Credo bursts forth with two vibrant fugal choruses. The first, in five parts in antique style, is based upon the plainchant associated with the words "Credo in unum Deum" and symbolises strength of faith; the second, Patrem omnipotentem in four parts, is adapted from a chorus of praise from Cantata No. 171 (1729) "Gott, wie dein Name, so ist ouch dein Ruhm" ("God, Thy fame is as Thy name").

The duet Et in unum Dominum is set for soprano and counter-tenor with oboe and strings. Bach originally also incorporated the Et incarnatus est into this duet, but his subsequent version spun out the text by further repetitions so that it stops at "descendit de coelis".

The five part chorus Et incarnatus est, added in this second version, depicts an intense awe, an emotion that deepens into despair in the four part Crucifixus, reworked from a chorus in a youthful Weimar Cantata, no. 12 (1714) "Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen", a profoundly poignant chorus over the remorseless bass of a passacaglia.

The Mass springs from the depths of hopelessness with the jubilant five-part chorus Et resurrexit, again apparently reworked from a previous instrumental movement. The bass aria, Et in spiritum, recalls in tone the earlier duet Et in unum Dominum.

The fugal Confiteor, like the first movement of the Credo, is in five parts and harks back to the older church style, using plainsong to underpin the firmness of the belief it represents. It is linked to the final joyous Et expecto by a passage of the strangest, most haunting quality - quite a contrast with the exuberant chorus that ends the Credo.



III Sanctus

Sanctus and Pleni sunt caeli

Bach's magnificent Sanctus was written originally for Christmas day, 1724, scored for a festive orchestra including three trumpets and three oboes. The choir for this piece is divided into six parts with a second alto part as well as the second soprano part found in the earlier five-part choruses. The Sanctus runs without a break into the fugal and triumphal chorus Pleni sunt caeli.