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Missa brevis (plural: Missae breves) is Latin for "short Mass". The term usually refers to a mass composition that is short because part of the text of the Mass ordinary that is usually set to music in a full mass is left out, or because its execution time is relatively short.
Full mass with a relatively short execution time
The concise approach is found in the mostly syllabic settings of the 16th century, and in the custom of "telescoping" (or simultaneous singing by different voices) in 18th-century masses. After the period when all church music was performed a cappella, a short execution time usually also implied modest forces for performance, that is: apart from Masses in the "brevis et solemnis" genre.
- Orlande de Lassus: Missa venatorum (Hunters' Mass)
- Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina: Missa Brevis
- Andrea Gabrieli: Missa brevis quatuor vocum
- Gaspar van Weerbeke: Missa brevis
For composers of the classical period such as Mozart missa brevis meant "short in duration" – as opposed to "missa longa" (long mass), a term that Leopold Mozart used for his son's K. 262 – rendering the complete words of the liturgy. As the words were well known some composers had different voice parts recite simultaneously different sections of long texts. This is especially characteristic of Austrian masses in the Gloria and the Credo.
- Johann Georg Albrechtsberger: Mass in D major (A.I.11, 1783), Missa Sancti Augustini (A.I.17, 1784)
- Carl Heinrich Biber: Missa brevis sanctorum septem dolorum B.V.M. (1731)
- Joseph Haydn: Missa brevis in F, Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo, among others
- Michael Haydn: provided alternative "brevis" settings for the Gloria and the Credo in his Missa Sancti Gabrielis
- Leopold Mozart, including some Missae Breves formerly attributed to his son Wolfgang Amadeus
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Brevis: K. 49, K. 65, K. 140, K. 192, K. 194, K. 275; Brevis et solemnis: K. 220, K. 257, K. 258, K. 259; Alternatively indicated as brevis or longa: K. 317
- Alexandre Guilmant: Messe brève, Op.9 (1856)
- Johann Gustav Eduard Stehle: Kurze und leichte Messe, Op.50 (Short and Easy Mass in Honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 1883)
Partial settings are seen in both the Roman and Lutheran traditions, where many works consist of the Kyrie and Gloria. These masses came to be called Missae breves because they are shorter in words, the opposite being Missae totae (complete Masses).
As Protestantism didn't have a determined set of Mass ordinary sections to be included in a Mass composition, as well settings of all five sections (e.g. Hieronymus Praetorius, Christoph Demantius) as Kyrie–Gloria–Sanctus settings (e.g. Stephan Otto, Andreas Hammerschmidt) exist. From the early 17th century many Kurzmessen (short masses) consisting of only Kyrie and Gloria were composed, e.g. by Bartholomäus Gesius (eight out of ten Masses included in his 1611 Missae ad imitationem cantionum Orlandi). In the second half of the 17th century the Kyrie–Gloria Kurzmesse was the prevalent type in Lutheranism, with composers like Sebastian Knüpfer, Christoph Bernhard, Johann Theile, Friedrich Zachow and Johann Philipp Krieger.
In the first half of the 18th century Kyrie–Gloria Masses could also be seen as a Catholic/Lutheran crossover, for example for Johann Sebastian Bach: not only did he transform one of Palestrina's a cappella Missa tota's in such a Kyrie–Gloria Mass for use in Lutheran practice, he also composed one in this format for the Catholic court in Dresden.
- Dietrich Buxtehude: Missa brevis, BuxWV 114
- Johann Theile: Missa brevis
- Johann Kuhnau's Mass in F major (Mügeln Mass), the only extant Mass composition of this composer, is a Kurzmesse.
- Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow: Missa super Christ lag in Todesbanden
- Jan Dismas Zelenka wrote and acquired many Kyrie–Gloria Masses for the Dresden court, all of them later expanded into a Missa tota or into a Missa senza credo.
- Giovanni Battista Pergolesi: Messa di Sant' Emidio in F major for five voices and orchestra (1732)
- Johann Sebastian Bach wrote five Kyrie–Gloria masses: in 1733 he wrote the Mass for the Dresden court (quarter of a century later expanded into the Mass in B minor), and around 1738 he wrote four so-called Lutherische Messen, BWV 233–236.
- Georg Philipp Telemann: several Kyrie–Gloria Masses, including Missa sopra 'Ach Gott im Himmel sieh darein', TWV 9:1, Missa sopra 'Durch Adams Fall ist ganz', TWV 9:4, Missa sopra 'Ein Kindelein so löbelich', TWV 9:5, Missa sopra 'Erbarm dich mein o Herre Gott', TWV 9:6, Missa sopra 'Es wird schier der letzte Tag herkommen', TWV 9:7 and Missa sopra 'Komm heiliger Geist', TWV 9:11
- Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel wrote a Deutsche Messe on the words of Kyrie and Gloria in German.
Other partial settings
Some Mass settings consisting of only three or four sections of the Mass ordinary can be indicated with a specific name, rather than with the generic Missa brevis name:
- Missa (in) tempore (Adventus et) Quadragesimae: without Gloria
- Missa senza credo: without Credo
- Missa ferialis: without Gloria and Credo
Masses written for the Anglican liturgy often have no Credo (rarely sung in Anglican services) and no Agnus Dei. For American denominations, the Sanctus is usually without Benedictus. The Gloria section may be moved to the end of the composition.
Some Masses in this category are rather to be seen as incomplete, while the composer didn't write all the movements that were originally planned, or while some movements went lost, but the extant part of the composition found its way to liturgical or concert practice recast as a Brevis.
Whatever the reason for omitting part of the text of the Mass ordinary from the musical setting, the umbrella term for such Masses became Missa brevis. Partial Mass settings that are not a Kyrie–Gloria Mass include:
- Johannes Ockeghem: Missa Sine Nomine (Kyrie – Gloria – Credo)
- Antonio Lotti: Missa brevis in F, Missa Brevis in D Minor (Kyrie – Sanctus & Benedictus – Agnus Dei settings)
- The three Choral-Messen (Windhaager Messe, Kronstorfer Messe and Messe für den Gründonnerstag), all partial settings which Bruckner composed between 1842 and 1844, were intended for the celebration of the mass in the villages Windhaag and Kronstorf, where he was schoolteacher's assistant.
- Johannes Brahms: Missa canonica, WoO 18 – the composers only attempt to set the Mass, is composed of Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei only, a fourth movement, the Credo believed to have been completed five years after the other movements, is lost.
- Léo Delibes: Messe brève (1875, no Credo)
- Gabriel Fauré: Messe des pêcheurs de Villerville (1881, includes two movements composed by André Messager – partial setting); Messe basse (1906, based on the parts composed by Fauré of the former – Kyrie, Sanctus/Benedictus and Agnus Dei only)
- Erik Satie: Messe des pauvres (mid 1890s, Kyrie apparently incomplete, Gloria missing, several other non-Ordinary movements composed)
- Ralph Vaughan Williams, Cambridge Mass for SATB, double chorus & orchestra, 1899 (Sets only the Credo and Sanctus)
Brevis for various reasons
From the late 19th century Missa brevis (or French: "Messe brève") may refer to a Mass composition with any combination of the following characteristics: (1) short execution time, (2) limited forces for performance, (3) leaving out part of the Mass ordinary and/or (4) the composition is incomplete so that the extant complete parts are seen as a Missa brevis. A Mass being short in this sense does however not exclude that sections based on texts outside the Mass ordinary are added to the composition (like the O Salutaris Hostia in several of Gounod's Messes brèves).
As concert performance of liturgical works outside a liturgical setting increased, for some of the composers the brevis/solemnis distinction is about the breves, which not always needed professional performers, being intended for actual liturgical use, while a Missa solemnis was rather seen as a concert piece for professional performers, that could be performed outside an actual Mass celebration, similar to how an oratorio would be staged.
- Charles Gounod:
- CG 63: Vokalmesse pour la fête de l'Annonciation in C minor (five voices a cappella, 1843)
- CG 64: Mass No. 1 in A♭ major (three voice parts and organ, 1844)
- CG 65: Mass No. 2 in C major (no Credo, 1845 – publ. 1872), and later revision Messe brève No. 5 en ut majeur à trois voix d'hommes, soli et choeurs (Messe Brève aux séminaires – 1870, rev. & publ. 1892)
- CG 66: Messe brève et salut pour 4 voix d'hommes in C minor, Op. 1 (c. 1845, publ. 1846)
- CG 67: Messe à 4 voix d'hommes No. 2 in C major (without Gloria, incomplete, c. 1845)
- CG 68: Messe à 4 voix d'hommes No. 3 in A minor (without Gloria, only Kyrie extant, c. 1845)
- CG 69: Messe à 5 voix libres in E♭ minor (incomplete, c. 1848 – Kyrie published in 1878)
- CG 70: Messe No. 1 à 3 voix d'hommes in C minor (aux Orphéonistes, 1853)
- CG 71: Messe brève No. 2 pour choeur d'hommes in G major (Messe pour les sociétés chorales, 1862), and its later revisions: Messe No. 3 à trois voix égales (Messe aux communautés religieuses, c. 1882, publ. 1891) and Messe brève no. 6 aux cathédrales pour solistes choeur et orgue (1890, publ. 1893)
- CG 72: Messe brève No. 4 à deux voix égales (Messe à la Congrégation des dames auxiliatrice de l'Immaculée-Conception, no Credo – 1876), revision as Messe brève No. 7 aux chapelles (1890, publ. 1893)
- CG 73: Messe des anges gardiens in C major (SATB soloists and choir, 1872)
- CG 74: Messe à la mémoire de Jeanne d'Arc libératrice et martyre in F major (no Credo 1886–1887)
- CG 78 and 79: Messe brève pour les morts en fa majeur (Introit/Kyrie – Sanctus – Pie Jesu – Agnus Dei, 1871 – publ. 1873), and a later reworking (1875)
- CG 147b: Messe funèbre in F major (Kyrie – Sanctus – Pie Jesu – Agnus Dei, 1865 – publ. 1883) is a parody by Jules Dormois of Gounod's Les Sept paroles de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ sur la croix
- Richard Rodney Bennett
- Lennox Berkeley
- Leonard Bernstein: Missa Brevis (1989 – without Credo)
- Benjamin Britten: Missa Brevis (1959 – without Credo)
- Jörg Duda
- Lorenzo Ferrero: Missa Brevis for 5 voices and two synthesizers (1975)
- Vivian Fine: Missa Brevis for Four Cellos and Taped Voice (1972)
- Ernst Fuchs-Schönbach: Missa brevis, Op. 20 for three-part mixed choir
- Wilhelm Killmayer
- Zoltán Kodály
- Frank Martin
- Vytautas Miškinis: Missa Brevis Pro pace
- Stephen Paulus
- William Walton
- Christopher Wood
- Gerhard Präsent: Missa minima (2001)
- Knut Nystedt: Missa Brevis, Op. 102 (2003)
- Arvo Pärt: Missa brevis for eight cellos (Kyrie – Sanctus – Agnus Dei, 2009-2010)
- Douglas Knehans: Missa Brevis for SATB and organ (2010)
- Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Missa Brevis, pp. 62–83 in The Complete Works, Volume XV: Three Masses. Kalmus Edition, Alfred Music Publishing, 1985. ISBN 9780757905797
- Missa longa in C Carus
- Black, David Ian (2007): Mozart and the Practice of Sacred Music, 1781-91, pp. 65–74. Harvard University thesis. Cambridge, Massachusetts.
- Stockigt, Janice B. (2013). "Bach's Missa BWV 232I in the context of Catholic Mass settings in Dresden, 1729–1733". In Tomita, Yo; Leaver, Robin A.; Smaczny, Jan. Exploring Bach's B-minor Mass. Cambridge University Press. pp. 39–53. ISBN 978-1-107-00790-1.
- Rimbach, Evangeline. "The Sacred Vocal Music of Johann Kuhnau" in Thine the Amen: Essays on Lutheran Church Music in Honor of Carl Schalk, edited by Carl Schalk and Carlos R. Messerli. Kirk House Publishers, 2005. ISBN 9781932688115 pp. 83–110; Masses discussed pp. 106 ff.
- Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina Missa sine nomine a 6 at www
- Bach Lutherische Messen, Study Score based on the NBA, Bärenreiter-Verlag (1987)
- Pascall, Robert (1987). "Brahms's Missa canonica and its recomposition in his Motet "Warum" Op. 74 No. 1". In Musgrave, Michael (Ed.). Brahms 2: Biographical, Documentary and Analytical Studies. Cambridge University Press. pp. 111–136. ISBN 0521326060.
- Messe des pêcheurs de Villerville at Bibliothèque nationale de France website
- Erich Schwandt. "A New Gloria for Satie's Messe des pauvres" in Canadian University Music Review / Revue de musique des universités canadiennes, vol. 18, n° 2, 1998, p. 38- 47. DOI: 10.7202/1014653ar
- Charles Gounod: Les messes et requiems at www
- Charles GOUNOD: Catalogo delle composizioni at www
- Charles Gounod: Messe brève no. 6 aux cathédrales at www
- Charles Gounod: Messe brève pour les morts en fa majeur (Requiem in F) at www
- Charles Gounod: Messe funèbre (Requiem in F) at www
- Arvo Pärt: Missa brevis at Universal Edition