The B Minor Mass, a cornerstone of Western music, is a composition of truly monumental dimensions, one that occupied Bach intermittently from the 1720s to the 1740s, and the work often regarded as the crowning glory of the great composer's lifework in the field of sacred music. First conceived as a Lutheran Mass ― essentially a setting of the Kyrie and Gloria performed at the beginning of the principal service ― the work was later enlarged with a Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei to conform to the structure of the Roman Mass ordinary. But in its final form this majestic work proved too long and too elaborate to be used in any ordinary church service, Protestant or Catholic. It is as a concert work that it has fulfilled its unique role in sacred music, for it is a creation that transcends denominational limits and rises to the heights of a universal statement of Christian faith. Requiring a large ensemble of performers (it is scored for two sopranos, alto, tenor, bass, chorus, orchestra, and continuo), it has enthralled audiences for over two centuries and is today the focal point of Bach festivals and repertoires worldwide, and one of the most often recorded of Bach's works. This superb full-score edition has been carefully reprinted from the authoritative Bach-Gesellschaft edition on fine-quality paper and sturdily bound. It will provide music lovers a lifetime of study and enjoyment of one of the greatest of choral masterpieces.