The Missa simplex – "Simple Mass" – is a setting of the Mass in Latin for four-part mixed choir. As a Missa brevis , it includes the Ordinary parts Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus & Benedictus and Agnus Dei.
The idea for a simple mass came about due to the restrictions on choir work during the Corona pandemic. The simplicity of this setting of the Mass lies in its almost entirely homophonic structure and refrain-like recurring sections, which on the one hand give the Mass a cyclical coherence and on the other hand ensure that it can be rehearsed quickly and relatively easily. The simplicity of the four-part setting enables a performance even with small ensembles (soloist quartet, double quartet, "choir-schola"), as was customary in our services during the pandemic. It is also well suited for returning to choral work after a long break.
Musically, the Missa simplex is inspired by the effective compositional technique of Jacques Berthier's Taizé songs (without wanting to imitate them), which are always simple but never silly. So it is the richness of colour in the harmony that is intended to give variety to this mass.
The various expressive poles of the Ordinary Mass, whose field of tension between divine and human, heaven and earth, sin and the request for peace has so many aspects to offer, are designed according to the respective character through different harmonics, tempi and time signatures. Dynamic or other information about the design was deliberately omitted. This leaves the interpreter free space for individual musical design.
The performance is possible a cappella or with organ accompaniment colla parte.
Missa simplex - Perusal score
Missa simplex - Live recording of the first performance
Sanctus & Benedictus
Catholic Church Choir of St. Josef Böbingen, conductor: Thomas M. J. Schäfer