Your favourite Masses
  • smt
    Posts: 9
    Dear all,

    although we had similar threads – we didn't have exactly that question. So just out of curiosity – what are your favourite Mass settings?

    My experience is that it is not so easy to find a good and fitting setting nowadays. The available material is overwhelming and much of the classic polyphonic masses are too long or (for modern ears) ... hmm, monotonous? At least it's my experience after listening to too much of renaissance choral music: in the end most of it sounds similar. Sorry for being so ignorant. – That's why Victoria is one of my favourite composers, as his compositions are often a bit more colourful, there are changes in rhythm, some more dissonances, catchy melodies etc.

    Also: I always enjoy it to find nice Masses besides the ones we all know.

    But maybe your favourite settings are from another time period?

    So, if I may start with a short list:

    Byrd, Mass for three voices (a classic, but simply one of the best for the OF)
    Victoria, Missa Quarti Toni (I think some amateur choirs sing it, but there is no good recording as far as I can see; very catchy lines)
    Magalhaes, Missa si ignoras te (glad that our conductor digged out this one)
    Jacobus Clemens non Papa, Missa pro defuncto (a Requiem setting, but truly sublime)

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts and recommendations!

    Thanked by 1Richard Mix
  • Missa Il bianco e dolce cigno (Stefano Bernardi)
    https://www.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/Missa_Il_bianco_e_dolce_cigno_(Stefano_Bernardi)
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,611
    @smt

    I do tend to agree with you about the monotony of renaissance music. I have been on a steady diet of Ren Mass settings for about a year with nothing else, and it is becoming quite wearing.

    A weak spot in the traditionalist movement is the insistence on an all Ren rep. however, I will grant that there is very little beyond that time that is truly excellent in liturgical music fitting for the Mass.

    Here is an Agnus that has roots in traditional western music but has more modern harmonies.
    Thanked by 1smt
  • Zoltan Kodaly - Missa brevis.
    Josef Gabriel Rheinberger - Missae Op. 109, 159, 172, 187, 190, and 192.
    Hermann Schroeder - Missa psalmodica and Missa gregoriana.
    Lajos Bardos - Missa tertia.
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Missae breves K. 192, 194, and 275.
    Ralph Vaughan Williams - Mass in G minor.
    Igor Stravinsky - Mass for choir and double wind quintet.
  • pfreese
    Posts: 147
    If you’re looking for a setting by a living composer, one of my sleeper picks is Rihards Dubra’s Missa Simplex. Painfully underrated composer. His chosen style is an interesting mix of Renaissance and Romantic, always with a robust melody line so his music is fairly easy to pick up by an amateur choir. Easily scalable too, still sounds wonderful whether you’re in a small chapel or a sprawling cathedral. The choir at a parish near me sang the Missa Simplex for Holy Thursday this year in leu of congressional singing because of Covid, it was absolutely stunning.
    Thanked by 1smt
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,862
    In addition to those already mentioned, I'll add:

    Faure, "Messe Basse"
    Poulenc, "Mass in G"
    Schubert, "Mass No. 2, in G" (missing texts in Gloria can easily be supplied)
    Haydn, "Kleine orgelmesse" (elongated Gloria by Michael Haydn)
    Hassler, "Missa Secunda"
    Part, "Berlin Mass"
    Thanked by 1smt
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,797
    Rather than a "favorite masses" thread, we need to break it down into "favorite Masses for WHAT?" ...for NO, for EF, in concert, to listen to, for solo voice, women, men, mixed, etc.

    Agree with Francis about the trad obsession with the Renaissance. It's the fault of the Caecilians having gotten to Pius X. You'd think there'd be more interest in the Baroque prima prattica, or Caecilian Masses. I'll say though that nobody has given me guff about my choice of Masses.

    I'm hiring a couple guys and doing Byrd in 3 for Christ the King (EF).

    Here are some subcategories:

    Christmas Masses:
    I do the Yon Mass of the Shepherds, which isn't technically a Christmas Mass but "sounds Christmassy". Easy cheesy pleasy, but if the youth at St, John Cantius can do it, I needn't feel embarassed.
    For Sunday within the Octave, I'm thinking of Bruno Oscar Klein's MIssa de Nativitate Domini for SA, not far from his teacher Rheinberger
    Gevaert's Missa Puer Natus est nobis for women and organ deserves to be better known
    As for the Tallis work of the same name, or George Malcolm's Missa ad Praesepe (which I HAVE sung), I can only dream of doing them .

    Unison Masses in Latin:
    Rheinberger Op 62 leaves everything else in the dust
    Willan St. Teresa is sturdy, as is Walkiewicz St. Joseph
    Everything else I've done (Yon Melodica, Griesbacher Rosa Mystica etc) is meh

    Renaissance: I so want to do Ockeghem Missa Au travail Suis
    Classical: I'm a sucker for Michael Haydn's Lenten Masses.
    Thanked by 2smt Don9of11
  • CatholicZ09
    Posts: 133
    I can really only speak from a NO perspective, and these are settings I like:

    Alstott, “Heritage Mass”
    Chepponis, “Jubilation Mass”
    Kraehenbuehl, “Danish Mass”
    Proulx, “A Community Mass”
    Proulx, “Mass for the City”
    Proulx, “Missa Simplex”
    Schubert, “German Mass” (revised by R. Proulx)
    Vermulst, “People’s Mass”

    There are select pieces I like that don’t seem to come from any particular Mass, such as David Clark Isele’s “Lamb of God.” L. Deiss and R. Proulx also wrote a variety of “standalone” settings of the “Lamb of God” that are very singable. For a nice singable and joyful “Gloria,” Carroll T. Andrews’ setting is always a hit. J. Lee wrote a nice antiphonal one years ago that R. Proulx also revised.
    Thanked by 2Choirparts smt
  • toddevoss
    Posts: 156
    Jernberg- Mass of St. Philip Neri
    For Gregorian Chant: Mass Setting IV
    Thanked by 1smt
  • Liturgical Use -
    Vaughan Williams - Mas in G-Minor
    Tallis - Mass for Seven Voices
    Monteverdi - Mass for 4 Voices
    Gregorian - Cum Jubilo

    Non Liturgical or Once Liturgical
    Beethoven - Missa Solemnis (though it is in places rather brutal and/or over-stated)
    Bach - Mass in B-Minor
    Mozart - Requiem
    Mozart - Coronation Mass

    In Between Liturgical and Non Liturgical -
    Stravinsky - Mass for Voices and Winds

    Other Cultures -
    Missa Luba






























































    Thanked by 2smt CHGiffen
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    Thanked by 2smt smt
  • smt
    Posts: 9
    Oh I'm so glad I asked – thanks to you all! And I'm surprised that there is so little Renaissance in your favourites. I mean... I agree with the problems, but still there are some gems.

    True, my question was a bit unclear. I was thinking about masses for liturgical use – in my case that means: mixed voices, NO, usually unaccompanied. But it's also interesting to see what is beyond these restrictions. And of course the mass should be pleasant to listen to, that's what I mean by "favourite". :-)

    And Gregorian Chant is a bit out of competition as it is really what we should insist on. Everything beyond it needs justification in my eyes. In my parishes one part of the justification is politics: It's easier to introduce Palestrina than, say, Missa IV.

    What also came to my mind:

    Ugis Praulins - Missa Rigensis (so far I know it just from recordings and I can only dream to perform it, but it seams suitable for liturgical use)

    And we should name at least some Palestrina settings, shouldn't we? I like the "Missa brevis" (Kyrie was sung at my wedding as well as my grandparents') and the "Missa Aeterna Christi munera".

    Speaking of George Malcom – I just recently discovered him (as a composer) and I really like his Neo-renaissance style. But it seems to me that it's not that much what he wrote and it's hard to find scores. Do they keep it in a safe in Westminster? Or was I just unable to find the publisher? Thanks for help.
    Thanked by 1Aristotle Esguerra
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 889
    I think it's rather a "first world problem" that choirs at traditional Masses sing "too much" Renaissance polyphony. I mean, how many parish choirs sing much Renaissance music at all?

    A lot of this is purely practical: there are an amazing number of high quality works, available for free online, that lend themselves to being sung by small choirs. I love the Vaughan Williams as much as the next person, but it won't work with the five people I have in the loft this morning. And many directors are not able to play the sometimes challenging organ accompaniments.

    But a larger point is that the Renaissance mass settings integrate well with the chant and the motet repertoire. As much as I love some of the classical through 20th century repertoire, it can be jarring to go from a long, ornate (and let's face it sometimes overwrought) Kyrie and Gloria to a more sober Gradual and Alleluia. The mass setting can upstage the rest of the Mass instead of being a part of the larger whole.
  • Improving the Alleluia and Psalm should come before almost anything else. There's no excuse to sing a long, florid Ordinary and motet at Communion alongside a cutesy Alleluia and psalm-toned RP.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,775
    In the context of OF/NO the RP is intended as a lection, an extract from scripture, delivered by a psalmist for the words to be heard clearly, although there is the option in GIRM of replacing it with the Gradual. As four readings is probably overload, using the Gradual would make sense.
    And GIRM says the Alleluia is to be sung by everyone, standing, which in most congregations currently would preclude anything complex or variable (Jackson's congregation providing a shining exception).
  • The Alleluia itself can be relatively simple (or a truncated melismatic Alleluia, as I use) but the verset sung by the cantor has little reason not to be florid.
    Thanked by 1a_f_hawkins
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,862
    My congregation sings the incipit of Alleluia: Dies sanctificatus from memory, daily.

    The difficulty has been/is getting people to realize that the music is integral to the liturgy in itself, and not just a thing to be gotten through while the clergy walk from point A to point B.

    After over fifty years of utility music at Mass, beauty has become an unwelcome, foreign interloper in the N.O. speed-Mass culture.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,400
    I've sometimes mulled Alleluia: Dies sanctificatus as a starting place for introducing the jubilus. Salieri, how do you do the proper verses?
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,775
    Salieri - it may be deeper than that, radio and television have weakened the liturgical idea that moving from A to B is a significant act itself.
  • stulte
    Posts: 313
    My "favorite" Mass setting tends to change periodically. Right now, I keep putting on Monteverdi's Missa In Illo Tempore to listen to. It's sadly an overlooked gem of a setting.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • I was thinking about masses for liturgical use – in my case that means: mixed voices, NO, usually unaccompanied

    As my own NO situation limits me to the Kyrie XVI/Gloria XV*/Credo III**/Sanctus XVIII/Agnus XVIII minimum standard (cf. Voluntati obsequens/Iubilate Deo), if I were to program a choral Mass setting for my own situation, brevity would be the decisive factor. But even then…

    Some years ago I wrote a simple three-part Mass setting (Kyrie/Sanctus/Agnus) intended for the students in my homeschool co-op class. I believed it to be compact (homophonic, declamatory, no “unnecessarily” repeated texts other than two triple Hosanna in excelsis in the Sanctus and Benedictus), but with the way the NO apparently is intended to flow, all parts seemed intrusive in their length when we sang it for said co-op’s graduation Mass.

    *ICEL
    **ICEL, only used on Sunday and if the celebrant remembers to intone it or explicitly instructs me to intone it in his stead.
    Thanked by 1smt
  • smt
    Posts: 9
    A lot of this is purely practical: there are an amazing number of high quality works, available for free online, that lend themselves to being sung by small choirs.


    True, that's why I am asking for some orientation. The amount is so huge that it's difficult to navigate.

    Improving the Alleluia and Psalm should come before almost anything else.


    Interesting. I've never seen a problem in singing Psalm and Alleluia verse on a Psalm tone. Situation in Germany: 1) you can be happy if the psalm is not replaced by a random hymn 2) there are collections of simple compositions for the RP, like the "Freiburger Kantorenbuch". It's sometimes quite nice, but still I'm not sure what to think about it. The psalm is surely not perceived as a lecture any more, but I doubt whether this is the case at all. I don't think this would be a big step for liturgical music.

    The Alleluia: Wow, Dies sanctificatus with congregation, that's impressive and nice. I'll think about this.
  • Psalm tones were intended for mass recitation of 20+ verses with an easy formula, not 3–5 verses by a solo cantor. The chants that are most proper to the solo idiom are the Gregorian Gradual verse and Alleluia verset, and they should be our compositional models. The use of Office tones for the RP is fundamentally a false tradition and misuse of what was originally intended for the Office.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,097
    I positively love Christoph Dalitz’s Missa Tribus Vocibus. There are recordings of each movement on my Serviam Scores YouTube channel. It is wonderful; it is composed in the vein of the renaissance masses of yore but it is short enough and comes in just under the threshold of what is too difficult for amateur choirs, and it works very well at Novus ordo masses, which most of the bigger renaissance masses do not.
    Thanked by 1sdtalley3
  • Even the monks of Solesmes shortened the Gradual and Alleluia to psalm tones for parish use... see the Chants Abreges.

    An ICKSP priest a world-class friend works for insists on fauxbourdons for these parts — “this is not a monastery”.

    Don’t confuse what is in the pristine books with what was really done. At a parish Missa Cantata with abbreviated ceremonies and no incense, why would we expect the propers to be sung in full always, if the priest is efficient? That doesn’t mean that we abandon ourselves to the Rossini books, either.

    Practical, beautiful, time-minding solutions to these moments that respect the flow of the rite set by the celebrant are desirable and needful.
    Thanked by 2sdtalley3 CHGiffen
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,862
    At weekdays, I sing the verse from the Lectionary to the mode ii Office tone; Most Sundays, I sing the verse from the Lectionary to the mode ii Introit tone, adding the short mode ii Antiphon melisma from the Sarum antiphonale. I also have a tone that I put together from musical phrases of the authentic verses; they are used on some Solemnities (text from lectionary) and for the First Alleluia during Eastertide.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,775
    The use of Office tones for the RP is fundamentally a false tradition
    It would be a misuse for the Gradual, but the RP is different. We normally get 3 or 4 double verses, because we are supposed to hear and follow the text. Whether the RP is/was a good idea or not it is delivered from the ambo, because it is a reading (sung because it is from the Temple hymn book). This has not been the Roman tradition at Mass, it may reflect ancient practice from the time of Jerome and Augustine.
    As I said above, if there are two readings before the Gospel, I think using the Gradual instead of the RP may be sensible, simply because there is too much text to take in. Weekdays have more engaged congregations, and usually fewer readings.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,862
    For regular parish use, here are some simple Unison Masses: I pull movements from these from time to time, for a change from the all-Gregorian ordinaries we usually do:

    Neukomm: Missa Rurale
    Magri: Mass in D
    Leonard: Mass in F
    Willan: Mass of St. Teresa

    When doing individual movements, I tend to pair a Kyrie and Agnus Dei, or just do the Gloria or just the Sanctus. (I know Bugnini tried to turn the Sanctus into a "response" said by all, like "and with your spirit", but he's dead. Sue me.)
  • @smt

    Some Mass settings I've employed with success within the context of the TLM that fit your criteria:

    • Three voices
      • Asola, Missa prima a 3
      • Asola, Missa secunda a 3
      • Dalitz, Missa tribus vocibus
      • Dalitz, Missa «Salve Regina»
      • Haller, Missa prima, Op. 4
      • Haller, Messe secunda, Op. 5
      • Lotti, Mass in C major "Student Mass"
    • Four voices
      • di Lasso, Missa octavi toni (Jäger)
      • Hassler, Missa super «Dixit Maria» 
      • Hassler, Missa secunda
      • Monteverdi, Messa da cappella a 4vv. (1641)
      • Rota, Missa brevis a 4
      • Victoria, Missa quarti toni
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 521
    When I sang in St. Mary's Choir in Akron, OH (1977-2005) we celebrate once a month a NOL, Novus Ordo Latin Mass.

    Ordinary Time = Mass in G by Theodore La Hache, this was our go to mass setting for most of the NOL that we celebrated. We learned other mass settings but this is the one we sang most of the time. The congregation knew this mass more than any other.

    Every other year on Christmas and Easter in our parish we celebrated NOL.

    Christmas = Christmas Carol Mass by James Korman or Choral Mass In Honor of the Infant Jesus by W.J. Marsh.

    Easter = Mass in Honor of the Holy Family by C. Cremer or Mass in Honor of Our Lady of Loretto by H. Mentzel.

    I remember a couple of times for Easter and Christmas we used Mass in Honor of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary by John Wiegand. I also remember singing the Agnus Dei from the Mass in E Flat by Will M. Browne. I don't remember the occasion and I don't recall that we sang the whole mass. I just remember learning the the Agnus Dei.
    Thanked by 1smt
  • vansensei
    Posts: 176
    Rheinberger, Double Choir in E-flat

    Schubert Mass in G

    Missa O Quam Gloriosum - Victoria

    Martin -- Mass for Double Choir

    One that barring one or two solos and themes is non-liturgical:Mass in B Minor - J.S. Bach
  • sdtalley3sdtalley3
    Posts: 223
    My favorite Gregorian mass(es) would have to be:
    Mass III
    Mass IV
    Polyphonic settings: Missa Aeterna
    Christi Munera-G.P. da Palestrina
    Missa Pro Defunctis, 5 voices -Same.

    I could include some of the previous selections mentioned above, like JS Bach etc.
    I‘m not the biggest fan of repeating any repertoire over an extended period, because then it just becomes boring to me. These are just a few of my favorites.

    I will also throw in a recent work by M_R_Taylor, who posted a recent setting in another thread. I took a liking to it as well.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,097
    Not to derail the thread again, but I happened to be trawling around for a nice quote about sacred music for the worship aid this week and I stumbled across this line in De Musica Sacra et Sacra Liturgia (1958) which jumped out to me in light of what has been discussed above:
    21. c) But if for some reason a choir cannot sing one or another liturgical text according to the music printed in the liturgical books, the only permissible substitution is this: that it be sung either recto tono, i.e., on a straight tone, or set to one of the psalm tones. Organ accompaniment may be used. Typical reasons for permitting such a change are an insufficient number of singers, or their lack of musical training, or even, at times, the length of a particular rite or chant.

  • I was not aware of the Haller Masses. Very useful setting for those of us short on men!
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,066
    To those who "tire" of renaissance polyphonic masses, I'd suggest going through ALL the di Lasso Masses. He was, truly, the best of the time, and an excellent singer, too. Even the parody Masses have lots of "puzzles" that are fun. If you have a group of good singers who are also willing to work, I find his work so rewarding. We are doing the Doulce Memoire Mass this coming week, and it's fantastic...but totally different than the di Lasso parody Mass we did last season.
  • m_r_taylor
    Posts: 242
    Very kind of you Mr. Talley!
    Thanked by 1sdtalley3
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,862
    I think where the "Too much Renaissance" problem comes from in Trad. circles is the over-use of Palestrina because of it's alleged "canonization" in Tra le. I don't often hear of Ockeghem Masses being performed, or even Josquin.

    Early Renaissance, Franco-Flemish polyphony has more variety, IMHO, than later Roman polyphony. Palestrina is good, but I could easily level against his Masses the same charge as that which is levelled against Vivaldi's concertos.
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,797
    Of course, the canonization began long before TLS or even the Caecilians.But yes. But also, for Palestrina, all you have to be able to do is to count to 2, and anyone who can chant can do that, while there's a specific rhythmic language in 15th-c music to be mastered. It's not hard, but most amateur (and some professionals) don't come "out of the box" being able to do it.

    There's a story I heard from the electronic composer John Eaton (1935-2015). He had written a piece for a friend's wedding in Italy. They were rehearsing, and the priest came out in a state of agitation.
    Fr.: God doesn't like that music!
    Eaton: What kind of music does God like?
    Fr.: Gregorian chant!

    It so happened that the piece included Gregorian chant, which Eaton pointed out to the padre.

    Fr.: God only likes chant used as in the music of Palestrina.
    Eaton: God has pretty narrow taste, doesn't He?
    Fr.: Yes, God does!
    Thanked by 2sdtalley3 smt
  • smt
    Posts: 9
    Atm I really love Byrd's masses. They are truly "composed", not just parody masses, Byrd truly paints the words. Does anybody have experiences with 5v mass? I always assumed that it's the most complicated just bc it has more voices, but actually... after looking at the score I think it's not harder than the 4v. What do you think?

    Thanks for the encouragement to Lassus. I also would like to do some really old stuff, like Dufay or from the Trent codices. Any experiences there?

    And as a sidenote: When looking at masses I usually just look at the Kyrie, Sanctus/Benedictus and Agnus Dei as these are the parts I could use in the liturgy. The rest would be done as plainchant. Otherwise its simply too long. In the NO even the Sanctus is probably better sung as plainchant.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,066
    4v much more challenging than 5v, especially in Gloria and Credo. The writing isn't as smooth, etc. The 5v is really Byrd at his peak, although the 3v is probably more amazing because it seamlessly covers the lack of a fourth voice.
  • vansensei
    Posts: 176
    Is there a conductor daring enough to try an Ockeghem Mass one Sunday?
    Thanked by 1sdtalley3
  • My favorite Mass is probably the "Missa Regia" by Henry du Mont, which is still quite popular in France.
    I also love the "Missa de Sancta Maria Magdalena" by Healey Willan, though I have never attended a Mass where it was sung.
  • sdtalley3sdtalley3
    Posts: 223
    @Jehan Boutte,

    I just transcribed the du Mont mass for a friend in Minnesota, and I liked it as well, the only recordings I listened to on YouTube, were voice and accompaniment, but what I was given was made for 4 voices and organ, minus the Credo. I'll attach the file but in all I liked it and hope to hear the full deal someday.

  • @sdtalley3

    This is a really great job! Did you harmonize the Mass yourself in order to have it sung with four voices?
    Also, would you mind if I borrowed your transcription?
    Thanked by 1sdtalley3
  • sdtalley3sdtalley3
    Posts: 223
    @Jehan_Boutte

    No, I didn't harmonize it, only transcribed it from a copy that looked old, copied, cut and pasted together at some point. He was only looking for recordings to help his choir for a wedding, but regardless, in order for me to do so I had to write out the whole thing to help him in this regard. I'll have to see if he has the Credo in his archives as well, and add that to this.

    Go ahead and borrow/use as you please.
  • Ockeghem makes a regular appearance at the Toronto Oratory with Aaron James. They're pretty adventurous over there.
    We're doing one of my all-time favourites this Sunday at my church - Missa de la Batalla Escoutez by Guerrero.
    Thanked by 2sdtalley3 Salieri
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,686
    Does anybody have experiences with 5v mass?


    The first polyphonic mass I ever conducted was Byrd’s Five Voice, done for a friend’s wedding in St Joseph’s down in Jasper. We sang everything except the Credo and the Gloria, which we replaced with the Gloria from Lassus’s Hunter Mass for the sake of brevity. It’s a piece of cake.
  • vansensei
    Posts: 176
    @sdtalley3

    As an aside, we very likely know the same person in Minnesota because I've sung that exact same transcription. Ironically, for a wedding as well. In 2021. It's quite nice. Gloria incipit is a little high for many priests but otherwise, it's a nice transcription.
    Thanked by 2sdtalley3 CHGiffen
  • sdtalley3sdtalley3
    Posts: 223
    @vansensei

    That wedding wouldn't happen to have been recently would it?
  • smt
    Posts: 9
    Another question concerning Lent: Which masses do you use for this season? Traditionally it would probably be better to stay with plainchant, but as someone mentioned elsewhere it's maybe not the best idea to build a strong association between gregorian chant and penance...
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,797
    I don't have a complete mixed ensemble. And I don't do things in Advent and Lent that have independent organ parts (how I keep the "bad choir" loophole an actual loophole instead of an open gate). And we do chant all year around. So we do Mass XVII, and for Gaudete/Laetare we do whatever we would normally do (1-2 voice Mass settings), minus the Gloria of course.