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Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Mass (Liturgy)

The Mass is the term used to describe celebration of the Eucharist in the Western liturgical rites of the Roman Catholic Church, and the Anglo-Catholic tradition of Anglicanism. The term comes from the late-Latin word missa (dismissal), a word used in the concluding formula of Mass in Latin: "Ite, missa est" ("Go, it is the dismissal”)

The usual words that are set to music in The Mass are known as the Ordinary. These are the words of the service which are the same every day. The Ordinary consists of five parts: Kyrie (Lord have mercy upon us….), Gloria (Glory be to thee….), Credo (I believe in God the Father….), Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy….) and Agnus Dei (O Lamb of God…).

By the 15th century the mass was normally performed by a choir. Among the earliest mass settings is that by the 14th-century composer Guillaume de Machaut, which probably was conceived for performance by solo voices but is often performed chorally.

A 15th-century Mass

Before the 15th century, most musical settings of the Ordinary of the Mass were grouped according to movement. All of the Kyries were together, all of the Glorias were together, and so on. A priest selecting the music for the service would choose one from each group to be sung, and so any setting of a movement could be used in combination with any other. The Tournai Mass, a polyphonic setting of the mass from 14th-century France, is the first known mass to have been written in a manuscript as if it were a single unified setting of the entire Ordinary.

On the feast of Epiphany, January 6, 1494, Christopher Columbus and all his men disembarked at Isabela on the island of Haiti and entered the temporary church that they had built. There they heard Fray Buil offer mass--the first mass ever heard on land in the New World.

Some of the most famous of all musical works of the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods are masses. Many of the most famous of the great masses of the Romantic era were Requiem masses.

During the last hundred years many composers have written masses in a diversity of styles which were not meant to be sung in a church service: they are written as concert pieces. Some of them are quite long and fill a whole concert program. An example is David Fanshawe's African Sanctus, which is the Latin Mass is juxtaposed with live recordings of traditional African music,

Pope St. Pius X initiated many regulations reforming the liturgical music of the Mass in the early 20th century. He felt that some of the Masses composed by the famous post-Renaissance composers were too long and often more appropriate for a theatrical rather than a church setting. He advocated primarily Gregorian plainchant and polyphony.

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