Becoming familiar with Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor (K.427) is a good way to both deepen one’s appreciation for WAM, especially his church music, but also to find a way into understanding the rich and ancient eucharistic liturgy of the western church. The Great Mass, composed in 1782/3, is unfinished* but the missing parts are often added for modern performances and recordings.
In the Great Mass we proceed in stages through music until we receive the grace of God in the Eucharist.
1. Kyrie (Chorus and Soprano: 0:00-7:37). Kyrie, eleison (Lord have mercy) is sung three times, followed by a threefold Christe, eleison (Christ have mercy) and by another threefold Kyrie, eleison. Here, like the Caanaanite woman in Matthew 15:22, we cry out to Jesus, “Have mercy on me!”
2. Gloria (Chorus, Sopranos, Tenor: 7:38-33:50). Here we praise God for his glory and thank him for the mercy offered to us through Jesus, who takes away the sins of the world.
3. Credo (Chorus, Soprano: 33:51-46:22). The text of the Nicene Creed reminds the worshipper that grace comes through the truth of a historical moment — that the one God was incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth and died on a cross during the prefecture in Jerusalem of Pontius Pilate. Because we believe, we come to God’s altar looking for his grace.
Enjoy this Arte broadcast (and this is a good recording on CD/MP3):
This is the Agnus Dei from the Coronation Mass:
* “The work is incomplete, missing all of the Credo following the aria “Et incarnatus est” (the orchestration of the Credo is also incomplete) and all of the Agnus Dei. The Sanctus is partially lost and requires editorial reconstruction.”