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A Mass For All Seasons 1995/2012


Actually this mass, having no Gloria, is aimed at the seasons of Advent and Lent. It was written for the parish of St Thomas More, Towcester, where Gordon has been organist at the Saturday evening mass since the 1970's when the congregation moved from the local Scout hut to a bijou Nonconformist chapel, almost cubic in shape, with a small organ and great acoustics- ideal for implementing the wish of Pope John 23rd that the singing of the English liturgy should be centred on the people.

The Lamb of God, with its threefold appeal to the mercy of Our Lord, surely calls us to abandon our inhibitions and execute a steady crescendo in three stages, with a final diminuendo. By contrast the Agnus Dei in Missa de Saeculis focuses the tension on the middle section, as do all of the settings of the Kyrie eleison/Lord, have mercy. Not for nothing does the Mass begin and end with a threefold prayer (echoed in the Gloria).

This setting is particularly easy to learn as it consists largely of one simple yet haunting tune. The Mystery of Faith is a translation of the Acclamatio which is to be found in Missa de Saeculis.

Kyrie eleison, by the way, is Greek, with a place not only in the Orthodox liturgy, but also surviving in common speech as an exclamation - unlike its English equivalent "Lawks-a-mercy", which must have died out long ago even in the remotest rural locations.