Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bach's Awesome Mass in B Minor

By now, some of you all who read my Blog may know that I am an "Ardent Lover of Sacred Choral Music" as well as of "Classical Music".

Well, here is another one for all those who are just like me.

Although Mozart, Beethoven, Palestrina, Tomas Luis De Victoria, and Handel happen to be my favorites -- I do like listening to some compositions of Bach which were composed purely for "Liturgical Services".

In my humble opinion -- Mozart's Coronation Mass, Mozart's Grand Mass in C Minor, Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, and Beethoven's Mass in C truly rock but I do believe that Bach's Mass in B- Minor is an awesome composition that competes well with the Masses that I have mentioned above.

In this connection, it is interesting to note that Bach was actually a Lutheran who lived in Germany but composed his awesome Mass in B- Minor with -- it seems a "Catholic Setting in Mind" and modelled it extensively on 'Catholic Liturgy as it existed in the 18th Century.

Some Catholics may wonder why I am blogging about Bach who was a Lutheran ?

Well, I strongly believe that anyone who loves Sacred Choral Music and essentially Church Music is not confined to whether these Composers were Catholic or not.

Although, I do prefer "Catholic Composers" -- I am open to good Sacred Music even if the composer in question was from 'The Russian Orthodox Church'.

I have come across these awesome and inspiring Links connected to Bach's Mass in B- Minor and would like to share them with you all.

Here are two snippets from two articles, I recently came across on the web.

Check out all the Links to know more about this awesome "Mass in B- Minor".

1) From:

Bach's output of religious music based on Latin texts was not insignificant. Besides the B Minor Mass, he composed the Magnificat, 4 "short" masses, and 5 settings of the Sanctus. Since the churches in Leipzig were Lutheran, one may wonder why the Roman Catholic mass was being set to music.

In fact, Luther had retained the Kyrie, Gloria in excelsis, Credo, and Sanctus movements of the Catholic Ordinarium Missae for use in Protestant churches. Thus, in Leipzig, perfomances of the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, and Sanctus were not uncommon during Bach's lifetime.


"Mass in B Minor — Bach’s only complete setting of the Latin Ordinary of the Mass"

by John Butt

J. S. Bach --

On 27 July 1733 Bach petitioned Friedrich August II, the new elector of Saxony, for a court title that would boost his status as the somewhat beleaguered Kantor at the Thomasschule in Leipzig. The ‘trifling product’ that Bach enclosed was the set of beautifully prepared presentation parts for a missa, the Kyrie and Gloria that later became the first part of the Mass in B Minor. In scale and idiom the missa seems designed for the mass repertory typical of Dresden.

Bach re-used some of the missa music in the mid-1740s for the Latin cantata ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo’ BWV191. It is possible that the D major Sanctus composed for Christmas 1724 was performed on the same day (perhaps celebrating the peace of Dresden in 1745, concluding the second Silesian war). Thus the juxtaposition of these two works, related as they are to the Latin Ordinary, may have inspired Bach to compile a missa tota in the remaining years of his life, perhaps in response to his first and only personal experience of the horrors of war.

However, we know of no definite occasion for the performance of the mass as a whole. There is some circumstantial evidence to link it with further commissions from, or presentations to, the Dresden court but it is eminently possible that Bach compiled it with no specific occasion or performance in mind, and that it belongs among the increasingly abstract and ‘speculative’ cycles from his later years, such as Clavier-Ubung III or The Art of Fugue.

Bach drew much of the material for the Mass in B Minor from existing works, producing a veritable compendium of all the styles he had employed in the composition of arias and choruses throughout his career. There is almost the sense that he was scanning his career to compile some of his ‘greatest hits’. The ‘lack’ of originality is more than adequately compensated by the skill with which he adapted the material to fit the new context. Furthermore, by abstracting movements from some of his finest vocal works, originally performed for specific occasions and Sundays within the Church’s year, he was doubtlessly attempting to preserve the pieces within the more durable context of the Latin Ordinary. Although many of the movements lack existing models is may well be that they reflect lost cantatas — both sacred and secular.

Of the movements for which models survive, ‘Crucifixus’ comes from the earliest traceable source for any movement in the entire mass — the first section of the chorus opening Cantata 12, ‘Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen’, composed in Weimar for 22 April 1714. Here Bach adds the interlocking flute lines, the throbbing crotchet movement in the continuo, and the four-bar introduction of the ground bass. The final four bars, with the extraordinary move to G major, are new in ‘Crucifixus’, perhaps representing Christ lowered into the sepulchre, or the redemption achieved through Christ’s death.

Read More at:

3) "Another Awesome Perspective on the Mass in B- Minor"

4) (Listen to most parts of this Mass at this Link)

5) (Listen to two parts of this awesome Mass at this Link)

Note: Check out new posts that I will be making on Tomas Luis De Victoria, Beethoven, and Mozart starting from tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


One of my favorite compositions by Mozart is his awesome "Grand Mass in C Minor".

I love all the "Glorias" that are sung the best in this Mass.

Here is some interesting information on this Beautiful Mass.

From --

"Mozart's Mass in C Minor"

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Mass in C Minor, K427, is a religious musical work for chorus and orchestra. It is considered such a great musical work that it is called the 'Great Mass'.

Why did Mozart write the Mass?

Unlike many of Mozart's other pieces of music (including his Requiem) the mass was not commissioned. Mozart wrote it purely for his own pleasure - in fact, he probably spent time writing the mass when he should have been working on his boring paid commissions. Clues from letters have led many people to believe that Mozart wrote the mass partially in thanksgiving to god, possibly because of good events that had recently occurred in his life. These events included his marriage to Constanze Weber, the birth of their first child, and Constanze's recovery from illness. He could also have been trying to prove something to his father.

About the History and Music of the Mass:

Like all other masses, this one contains the following sections in order: Kyrie eleison, Gloria in excelsis Deo, Credo in unum Deum, Sanctus and Benedictus. However the final part, Agnus Dei, is missing, and the Credo is incomplete. The texts for these sections are the same in all masses (although performances at certain times of the year may see some parts omitted).

The mass is thought to have been written in 1782 - 83, and was first performed on the 26 October, 1783 (Mozart's sister Nannerl mentioned in her diary that a half-finished mass by her brother was performed; Constanze was apparently the solo soprano singer). It is thought that sections from other masses were performed alongside Mozart's to fill in the missing bits.

Read More at:

Also, Check out another Link which also has an awesome perspective on this Mass composed by Mozart.

You can also hear a sample of this Mass at this Link.

This is a late addition today.

I have just discovered an awesome Link that explains "Mozart's Mass in C Minor" excellently part by part.

Check it out. Here it is.

"Another interesting perspective on the Grand Mass, a complete text translation plus links to more information".

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Giovanni Pierluigi Da Palestrina --- The Prince of Sacred Roman Polyphonic Music

I wonder how many know that Palestrina is considered "The Prince of Sacred Polyphony" in the Catholic Church.

He literally saved "Sacred Polyphony" at a very critical time after the "Council of Trent".

Palestrina was also in charge of Music at the Sistine Chapel in the 1500's.

Palestrina was responsible for composing numerous beautiful Masses like "Missa Papae Marcelli" as well as Motets and Hymns in honor of Our Lady like "Stabat Mater" and many more.

Here is some interesting and insightful information that I came across.

"Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina"

The greatest composer of liturgical music of all time, born at Palestrina (ancient Praeneste) in 1514 or 1515, according to Baini, Riemann, and others, according to Haberl, in 1526; died at Rome, 2 February, 1594. His early history is practically unknown. Giusseppi Ottavia Pittoni (1657-1743), in "notizie dei maestri di cappella si di Rome che altramontani", 1600-1700", a manuscript in the Vatican, relates that young Pierluigi sang in the streets of Rome while offering for sale the products of his parents farm and that he was heard on such an occasion by the choirmaster of Santa Maria Maggiore, who, impressed by the boy's beautiful voice and pronounced musical talent, educated him musically.

As to the identity of the choirmaster, tradition gives no clue. Some hold that Palestrina was taught by Jacques Arcadelt (1514-60), choirmaster and composer in Rome from 1539 to 1549. The opinion, so long held, that Claude Goudimel (1505-72) was his principal teacher has now been definitively abandoned. As far as is known, he began his active musical life as organist and choirmaster in his native city in 1544; his reputation increasing, in 1551 he was called to Rome, entrusted with the direction and musical formation of the choirboys at St. Peter's, and within the same year was advanced to the post of choirmaster. In 1554, he dedicated to Julius III (1549-55) his first compositions, a volume of masses for four voices, and was rewarded with the appointment as a member of the papal chapel in contravention of the rules governing that body. The popehad set aside the rule requiring those who held membership in the papal choir to be in Holy Orders, and also used his authority to exempt him from the usually severe entrance examination. These circumstances and the further fact that his voice was much inferior to those of the other singers, aroused the opposition, and antagonism of his fellow-members. The papal singers did not appreciate the object of the pope, which was to secure for the gifted young man the necessary leisure to compose.

In the course of the same year, Palestrina published a volume of madrigals. The texts of some of these the composer himself in later years considered too free. In the dedication of his setting of the Canticle of Canticles to Gregory XIII, he expresses not only regret but repentance, for having caused scandal by this publication. Marcellus II, as cardinal, had protected and admired Palestrina, but died after a reign of only twenty-one days. Paul IV, shortly after his accession, re-inforced the former rules for the government of the papal choir. Besides Palestrina, there were two other lay married members in the choir. All were dismissed with a small pension, in spite of the understanding that these singers were engaged for life. The worry and hardship caused by the dismissal brought on a severe illness; restored, the composer took charge, 1 October, 1555, of the choir at St. John Lateran, where he remained until February, 1561. During this period he wrote, beside Lamentations and Magnificats, the famous "Improperia". Their performance by the papal choir on Good Friday was ordered by Paul IV, and they have remained in its repertoire for Holy Week ever since.

This production greatly increased Palestrina's fame. In 1561 he asked the chapter of St. John Lateran for an increase in salary, in view of his growing needs and the expense of publishing his works. Refused, he accepted a similar post at Santa Maria Maggiore, which he held until 1571. It is not know at what period of his career Palestrina came under the influence of St.. Philip Neri, but there is every reason to believe it was in early youth. As the saint's penitent and spiritual disciple, he gained that insight into the spirit of the liturgy, which enabled his to set it forth in polyphonic music as it had never before been done. It was his spiritual formation even more than his artistic maturity, which fitted him for the providential part he played in the reform of church music.

Read More at:

Check out the following Link for some awesome Compositions by Palestrina:

My Apologies for this late addition but I have discovered an awesome site where you can listen to a ton of stuff specially Masses, Sacred Madrigals, Motets, and much more composed by Palestrina.

Here is the Link. Check it out.

More on Beethoven's Missa Solemnis

I recently came across an awesome article which I believe is all comprehensive on "Beethoven's Missa Solemnis".

Ludwig Van Beethoven often considered this Mass that he composed as his greatest achievement in his lifetime.

The History associated with "The Missa Solemnis" is awesome and fabulous.

Check this article out at the following Link:

There are musical works of such conceptual scope, majesty and grandeur that they should not be performed too often, lest they become commonplace. One thinks of the B-minor Mass and the Passions of Bach, Wagener's Ring, and a number of symphonies by Mahler.

Of these, the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven is given on a too-regular basis, and has become so well known that its sublimity is diminished, for the listener, through familiarity. Mercifully, the same has not occurred with Beethoven's Missa solemnis, because its length and difficulty ensure that performances will be relatively rare.

Beethoven was never conventionally religious. Although apparently a believer in god, his faith was pantheistic rather than confined to a particular doctrine.

The Missa solemnis was planned originally as a tribute to his friend and patron Archduke Rudolf of Austria, a son of the Emperor, on the occasion of Rudolf's elevation to the rank of Cardinal-Archbishop of Olmütz in Moravia. His investiture took place in the magnificent Gothic cathedral of Cologne in 1820, but the Missa grew beyond suitable proportions, even for such an august occasion. It was not completed until 1823.

Beethoven became obsessed in the exploring the literal meaning of the Mass text, ignoring the by-then-ossified traditional understanding not from any theological dispute with Catholic reaching, but from a desire to universalize a commonly-known text, and a typical artist's need for thoroughness. For this reason he looked back to earlier models, studying Gregorian plainchant modes and Baroque oratorios, in particular Handel's Messiah.

Evidence of these is plain throughout the Missa solemnis, particularly in the Credo. Beethoven's use of a traditional text as the foundation for an exploration of new directions is akin to Renaissance painters' use of common Biblical themes as the basis for arrangements of colors, shapes, textures and proportions. In both cases, the superficial narrative is intended to appeal to the naïve listener (including the censor); the connoisseur is expected to penetrate beyond the surface.

Read More at:

Monday, November 27, 2006

Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

Today, We Celebrate the "Awesome Solemnity and Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal".

Saint Catherine Laboure is often associated with this devotion as Saint Catherine Laboure received a number of visions from Our Lady in the 1830's as regards this Medal.

Saint Catherine Laboure was a "Sister of Charity".

Saint Catherine Laboure pray for us.

Here is some interesting information.


"The Miraculous Medal is a physical manifestation of the gift of grace that perpetually exudes from Our Lady and it, too, is a Sacramental, a most miraculous one. It was originally called the Medal of the Immaculate Conception, but because so many miracles were reported by those wearing it that it became known as the Miraculous Medal. Often the Medal is presented to Catholics who are making their first holy Communion, receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation and given at Baptisms.

The Blessed Virgin Mary declared that those who wear it around their necks will be given wondrous graces, among them, not sinking into a life of iniquity or becoming more pure".


This is a very brief version. To obtain the beautiful booklet, MARY'S MIRACULOUS MEDAL, with lovely images, especially good for children to peruse, go HERE. This booklet also has the conversion story of Ratisbonne and the perpetual Novena. The above image is not part of the booklet, but there are many in it and all as lovely, including the cover.

In 1830, one of the apparitions sanctioned by Holy Mother Church occurred in the chapel of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, the Rue de Bac, Paris. There were three visions given to Saint Catherine Laboure who, at the time of the first one, was a novice in the order. We have images of her on Pages 3 and 4 of this presentation.

She was awakened at 11:30 PM on the eve of the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul, by a "shining child" who led her to the chapel where she saw Our Lady, who spoke to her for two hours about the difficult task that lay ahead. Four months later, on November 27 Catherine had the second vision wherein she saw a three-dimensional scene of the Blessed Virgin standing on a white globe with dazzling rays of light streaming from her fingers and she heard a voice say:

"These are the symbols of grace I shed upon those who ask for them." A frame formed around the Mother of God and within it was written in gold letters, O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."

The voice then told her to have a medal struck after this model. Then the vision turned and on the reverse side was a large M with a bar through it and a cross over it. Beneath this M were the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, one crowned with thorns and the other pierced by a sword.

This second vision occurred periodically until 1831. Because she wanted to remain unknown, Catherine told them only to her confessor. Msgr. Aladel, who received permission from the Archbishop of Paris to have the medal struck. The first 1500 were issued in June of 1832, and almost at once there were reported healings, conversions and miraculous events. The Saint could not be convinced to appear at any of the canonical hearings, but eventually the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary was sanctioned on the overwhelming evidence of the miracles obtained by those wearing the medal. Saint Catherine Laboure only revealed herself as the visionary eight months before her death, in 1876. Like St. Therese of Lisieux, this came as a surprise to the other nuns as they considered her quite ordinary. She was canonized in 1947 by Ven. Pope Pius XII. Her Feast is November 27 as is the Feast of the Miraculous Medal, although in some places it is celebrated on December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception because of its relation to it.

We have related that this medal is the impetus to conversion for those who wear it or have it in their possession.

Check out more at:

I have also come across some other awesome links with regard to "Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal".

Check them out.

"The Official and Beautiful Web Site of "The Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Paris, France at Rue Du Bac".

"St. Catherine Labouré and the Miraculous Medal"

By Rev. Robert J. Billett, C.M.F.

The Virgin Mary inaugurates the Marian Era

"An Awesome Homily on Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal"

“The Miraculous Medal and The Immaculate Conception”

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli from a Choir in South Korea

I just got to know about a site in Seoul, South Korea who are hosting "Palestrina's Famous Mass" known in English as "The Pope Marcellus Mass".

Here it is if you want to check it out. I believe that they sing the entire Mass in Latin.

Beethoven's Missa Solemnis

I have discovered an awesome link to "Beethoven's Missa Solemnis" performed by a German Choir in Germany.

Here it is.

"The Choir of the Witten/Herdecke University performs Beethoven’s Missa solemnis, a piece that stands with Bach’s Mass in B Minor as the most significant mass setting in classical music. Beethoven himself called it his greatest achievement.

It was Beethoven's Finest Achievement in 1923 when he was done with it and at that time, there was nothing like it".

For all those who would like to know more about Beethoven's Missa Solemnis -- here is an interesting link.

Awesome Podcasts on Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, and Haydn from Swedish Public Radio and Danish Public Radio

Classical Music Enthusiasts !

"Read this Carefully and Read it soon".

Swedish Public Radio and Danish Public Radio have some wonderful PodCasts and MP3's on their respective sites on some of the Symphonies of Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, and Haydn to mention a few.

I really do not know how long these MP3'S are going to remain at these sites.

Check them out at these links as soon as possible.

"8 Concerts of Mozart"


"Beethoven, Schumann, and Haydn at this Link below".


I really do not know why is it that I have missed out this year on some of the best and awesome PodCasts from "Danish Radio and Swedish Radio" on the occassion of Mozart's 250th Birthday.

If there is anyone out there, who has downloaded the first 17 hours, I would be most grateful if you could get back to me or send me those awesome mp3's.

Lastly, if there is anyone who has downloaded those awesome Symphonies of Mozart which were made available by "Danish Public Radio" from January - March 2006-- Please get back to me.

Meanwhile, enjoy before it is too late.

P.S.- Many Thanks to Blogger from "The Overgrown Path" for this information as regards "Swedish Public Radio".

Mass of Christ the King Chanted by Benedictine Monks from Brazil

Today, We Celebrate the Awesome Solemnity and Feast of Christ, The King.

Today, is also the Last Sunday of the Liturgical Year.

This is a Mass Chanted by some Benedictine Monks in Brazil.

Check it out.

Friday, November 24, 2006

"Feast of Saint Andrew Dung Lac and Companions November 24

Dear Friends in Christ,

Today, we celebrate the "Awesome Feast Day" of Saint Andrew Dung Lac and Companions who were matryred in Vietnam in the 19th Century and are great witnessed to the Catholic Faith in that country.

Check the following links out on Saint Andrew Lung Lac and the Martyrs who died for their Catholic Faith in Vietnam.




He was born in Vietnam in 1785. He became a priest. For being a priest and teaching others the Catholic faith he was beheaded in 1839 in Hanoi. St. Andrew was one of 117 martyrs who met death in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. Now all have been canonized by Pope John Paul II.Saint Andrew was beatified on May 27, 1900 by Pope Leo XIII and canonized on June 19, 1988 by Pope John Paul II.

INTERCESSORY PRAYER: Ask Saint Andrew and his fellow martyrs to intercede to strengthen the Catholic Church world-wide.



(St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his 116 companions, (d. 1745-1862)

There is a detailed explanation on the Martyrs in Vietnam at this Link above.