Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo

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Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo
Mass by Joseph Haydn
The composer c. 1770, Portrait by Ludwig Guttenbrunn
Other nameLittle Organ Mass
KeyB-flat major
CatalogueHob. XXII:7
  • SATB choir
  • soprano solo
  • 2 violins
  • organ
  • bass

The Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo, Hob. XXII:7, Novello 8, is a mass in B-flat major by Joseph Haydn.[1] The missa brevis (short mass) was written around 1775 for the order of the Barmherzige Brüder (Brothers Hospitallers) in Eisenstadt, whose patron saint was John of God. Scored modestly for soprano, four-part mixed choir, two violins, organ and bass, it is known as the Kleine Orgelsolomesse (Little Organ Mass) due to an extended organ solo in the Benedictus movement.


Haydn composed four or five short masses, depending on the Missa brevis Rorate coeli desuper being composed by him or not. The Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo is his last missa brevis. All these short masses share a modest orchestra.[2]

The mass was written for the order of the Barmherzige Brüder, also called Brothers of Mercy, in Eisenstadt, Hungarian Kingdom (now Austria), whose founder and patron saint was St. John of God.[3][4][4] Haydn lived in Eisenstadt, working for the court of Nikolaus II, Prince Esterházy. The date of the composition is not certain because the autograph score bears no date. A year of 1778 or earlier in the 1770s seems likely.[5][6] Because of an extensive Organ solo in the Benedictus, it is known as the Kleine Orgelsolomesse (Little Organ Mass),[3] referring to the Große Orgelsolomesse [de] (Great Organ Mass), a colloquial name for the Missa in honorem Beatissimae Virginis Mariae, Haydn's fourth mass in E-flat major. An organ solo in the Benedictus was common practice at the time.[2]

Haydn played the organ in the first performance,[5] in the hospital chapel of the Brethren in Eisenstadt. "Kleine" (little) may refer to the composition as well as to the organ, because the instrument there was a positive with six stops without pedal.[2]

Scoring and structure[edit]

The setting of the Latin mass is structured in six movements. It was originally scored for a solo soprano, a four-part choir (SATB), the socalled Wiener Kirchentrio (Vienna church trio) of two violins and bass, with an organ which has a solo function in the Benedictus.[3][6]

In the following table of the movements, the voices, markings, keys and time signatures are taken from the choral score.

No. Part Incipit Vocal Marking Key Time
1 Kyrie Kyrie SATB Adagio B-flat major common time
2 Gloria Gloria SATB Allegro molto B-flat major 3/4
3 Credo Credo SATB Allegro B-flat major common time
Et incarnatus est SATB Adagio 3/4
Et resurrexit SATB Allegro
4 Sanctus Sanctus SATB Allegro B-flat major 6/8
5 Benedictus Benedictus Soprano Moderato E-flat major common time
Osanna SATB Allegro B-flat major 6/8
6 Agnus Dei Agnus Dei SATB Adagio B-flat major 3/4


The movements Gloria and Credo are kept extremely short by the technique of Polytextur [de] (multiple texts): "several clauses of the text [are set] simultaneously in different voices."[3][7] The texts from the order of mass are repeated in every mass and thus well known; The setting of different passages assigned to the different parts, heard simultaneously, does justice to the liturgy but keeps the music short. The Benedictus is the only movement which is not in B-flat major, and set for a solo voice.


The Kyrie shows, according to the musicologist John Hsu "brilliant instrumental idioms and choral declamation.[5]


The Credo is structured in three parts, the center being formed by an Adagio for the birth, suffering and death of Jesus, delivered by the choir mostly in homophony, accompanied by broken chords in the violins and repetition in the bass. The third section recapitulates music from the Gloria.[5]


Sanctus is called by the voices in a fast sequence of entries, some as bell-like long notes, other in flowing triplets. For the Osanna, the voices enter from the lowest to the highest, only one measure apart. The instruments play colla parte with the voices, violins with soprano and alto, cello and violone with the bass.[5]


The Benedictus, the longest movement, is a dialogue of soprano soloist and organ, described as "expressive, elegant, and ornate melodic lines". It is followed by a repeat of the Osanna.[5]

Agnus Dei[edit]

Haydn marked the Agnus Dei carefully for dramatic contrast in dynamics, setting "Agnus Dei" (Lamb of God) as a fortissimo homophonic call versus a pianissimo prayer "Dona nobis pacem" (Give us peace).[5] The end is marked "perdendosi, senza organo" (dying away, without organ), with a pizzicato bass.[2]

A reviewer of the Oxford edition summarized: "The work is accessible to most choirs. The music is not xcessively difficult, but the solid musical structure and the many passages requiring expressive singing make the work a rewarding pleasure for any size choir.[2] H. C. Robbins Landon, an editor of the composition, ascribed to the work a "quiet spirit of devotion, even of mysticism, that is most appealing".[3]


While the mass was originally scored for choir, strings and organ, later versions include with trumpets and timpani, and clarinets.[3]

The mass was also used in Salzburg where the textual compression was deemed "unacceptable", therefore the composer's brother Michael Haydn expanded the Gloria, from 31 measures to 118.[4] Very few performances however, use this expansion. However, the Oxford edition presents Michael Haydn's prolongation in the main body of the text and Joseph's short original as an appendix.[2][4][8] Johann Georg Albrechtsberger wrote an alternate Benedictus.[3]


  1. ^ p. 265 (1974) Hugues
  2. ^ a b c d e f MacIntyre, Bruce C. "Joseph Haydn. Missa brevis SanctiJoannis de Deo (Hob. XXII:7) "Little Organ Mass" with Michael Haydn's prolongation of the Gloria. Edited by Denis McCaldin. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989". Music Library Association. JSTOR 942089. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Missa Brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo 'Small Organ Mass', Hob XXII:7". Hyperion. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d p. [blank] (1989) McCaldin
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Hsu, John (13 May 2007). "Handel and Haydn" (PDF). atlantabaroque.org. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  6. ^ a b Morrison, Chris. "Franz Joseph Haydn / Missa brevis St. Joannis de Deo, for soloists, chorus, organ & orchestra in B flat major ("Little Organ Mass"), H. 22/7". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  7. ^ p. 125 (1974) Hugues
  8. ^ p. 458 (1989) Aston


  • Aston (1989) Peter. "Review" August Music & Letters No. 3, Vol. 70
  • Hugues (1974) Rosemary. London. Haydn. J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd
  • McCaldin (1989) Denis. Introduction. Oxford. Franz Joseph Haydn: Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo, Hob. XXII:7, Little Organ Mass, with prolongation by Michael Haydn. Oxford University Press