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Special Music for Lent on March 2, 2008

Missa Brevis St. Joannis de Deo by Franz Joseph Haydn

During the 10 a.m. service on Sunday, March 2, the Fourth Sunday of Lent, the Adult Choir and soloists will sing a setting of the Mass, Missa Brevis St. Joannis de Deo, by Franz Joseph Haydn. The five parts of the Mass — Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei — – will be sung by the choir at the appropriate points in the liturgy accompanied by a “church trio” — two violins and continuo.

Haydn wrote 12 Mass settings of various lengths and complexities. The Missa Brevis St. Joannis de Deo is one of his early masses, written in the mid-1770s. It is a simple, yet beautiful setting, composed for the small church of a monastery in Austria. This Mass is sometimes referred to as the Kleine Orgelmesse (Little Organ Mass) because of an organ solo in the Benedictus, which is the concluding section of the Sanctus.

Although the Mass has moments of quiet contemplation, Haydn’s overall tone is one of cheerfulness and hopeful assurance. When criticized for the cheerfulness of his sacred music, Haydn replied that he “could not help it if at the thought of God his heart leapt for joy.”

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