Missa Brevis consists of seven short movements for SATB chorus, a cappella.
The term Missa Brevis translates as “short mass.” It is derived from the mass of the ordinary (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei) but with some movements removed. Many composers from the renaissance to the modern era have composed settings of “short masses.” The nucleus of my setting, the Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei, is taken from the Missa XVII Adventus et Quadragesima (Mass for Advent and Lent). Each of these three movements includes an incipit (intoning chant) before each phrase mirroring the original chant. Regardless of differing performance practices, the diamond shaped notes of the incipits should be sung slightly faster than the round notes. All three movements contain changing meter but the measures have no written time signatures. This should help to visually create fluid chant-like phrases without always feeling a strong beat at the beginning of each measure.
The bookends of the mass, Rex, Requiem and The Chorister’s Prayer, are identical musically except for the Amen section of the latter. Both movements were composed in memory of a mentor and dear friend of mine, Dick Young. The text Rex, Requiem, originally titled Epitaphium Angilberti (The Epitaph of Angilbert), was written by Angilbert (c. 740-814) for his own headstone. I have substituted the name Angilberti for the Latin translation of Richard, Ricardus, to pay homage to my friend. Although this mass was not intended to be a requiem, the first movement lends itself to that genre. One can personalize the Rex, Requiem by replacing a different name as I did, or the movement can be omitted altogether.
The Anglican-chant style of Psalm 23 and the anthem, A Prayer of St. Benedict, compliment the overall ethos of the mass. All the movements are quiet reflective settings that can be sung individually but are best performed together. This Missa Brevis is suited well for a liturgical service and equally for a concert performance. The vocal lines are fluid, and the ranges are conservative making this an easily accessible work. Your choir will thoroughly enjoy singing this reverent setting.