A mass, or "missa" in Latin, is sacred form of composition in which portions of the Eucharistic liturgy, typically of the Catholic Church to choral music. However, many masses have been composed without the intention of being performed during an actual mass.
Masses can be a capella (without accompaniment) or accompanied by instruments up to a full orchestra.
A missa tota, or "full mass,"consists of a musical setting of the five sections of the Ordinary, or liturgy:
Kyrie: the first sung prayer of the mass ordinary
Gloria: a celebratory passage praising God the Father and the Christ Credo: setting of the Nicene Creed, is the longest text of a sung mass
Sanctus and Benedictus: the Sanctus is a doxology praising the Trinity and the Benedictus is a continuation of the Sanctus
Agnus Dei: setting of the "Lamb of God" litany (prayer) containing the responses "miserere nobis" (have mercy on us) and "dona nobis pacem" (grant us peace).
- J.S. Bach: Mass in B minor
- Giovanni Palestrina: Missa Papae Marcelli (Pope Marcellus Mass)
- W.A. Mozart: Requiem in D minor, K. 626
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Below is the beginning of the Kyrie from Mozart’s Requiem in D minor. The words are "Kyrie eleison" means "Lord have mercy upon us," and "Christe eleison" translates to "Christ have mercy upon us."