The most solemn service of the Roman Catholic Church, representing the
commemoration and mystical repetition of the Last Supper. The name is derived
from the words, "Ite, missa est (congregatio)" -- literally, "Depart, the
congregation is dismissed" -- sung at the end of the service.
The Mass consists of a number of items whose texts vary from day to
day (Proper, proprium missae) and others
having the same text in every Mass (Ordinary,
ordinarium missae). Another classification can be made according
to whether an item is 1) recited on a monotone or spoken, or 2) sung to
a distinct melody. The recitation is entrusted to the celebrant priest
and his assistants, the other to the choir (schola).
The following shows the normal structure of the Mass:
1. Introit (Proper/sung)
For each item of the Ordinary there exist numerous melodies (e.g., about
300 for the Agnus Dei), the earliest of which date from the 11th century.
2. Kyrie (Ordinary/sung)
3. Gloria (Ordinary/sung)
4. Collect (Proper/recited)
5. Epistle (Proper/recited)
6. Gradual (Proper/sung)
8. Gospel (Proper/recited)
9. Credo (Ordinary/sung)
10. Offertory (Proper/sung)
11. Secret (Proper/recited)
12. Preface (Proper/recited)
13. Sanctus (Ordinary/sung)
14. Canon (Ordinary/recited)
15. Agnus Dei (Ordinary/sung)
16. Communion (Proper/sung)
17. Post-Communion (Proper/recited)
18. Ite missa est or Benedicamus Domino (Ordinary/sung)
A musical setting of the Mass for the Dead(Missa
pro defunctis), so called because it begins with the Introit "Requiem
aeternam dona eis Domine" (Give them eternal rest, O Lord). The liturgical
structure of this Mass is essentially like that of any other Mass, except
that the joyful portions of the Ordinary (Gloria
and Credo) are omitted and the Alleluia is replaced by a Tract, after which
the sequence "Dies irae" is added.
The polyphonic setting of a Gregorian Mass Ordinary, with each movement
drawing its musical material from the corresponding item of the plainsong
Mass. Such a Mass is cyclical from the liturgical point of view,
since it fully corresponds to one of the plainsong cycles, each of which
is assigned to a specific liturgical situation.
Cantus Firmus Mass
This is a Mass in which all the movements are based
on one and the same melody, usually in the tenor. This cyclical
type is perhaps the most common of all between 1400 and 1600. According
to the source of the "cantus firmus," three species can be distinguished:
Masses based on 1) a liturgical, 2)
a secular, and 3) an invented
In this version, the melodic lines paraphrase the original cantus firmus.
Generally, the first four or five notes of the cantus firmus, on the original
pitch, are used to begin the melodic lines of the mass.
Term for an important practice in the 15th- and 16th-century Mass composition,
i.e., incorporating into the Mass material derived from various voice-parts
or from entire sections of a polyphonic composition
such as motet, chanson,
This extensive borrowing distinguishes the parody Mass from the Cantus
Firmus Mass, which employs only one voice-part (tenor or superius)
of its model. Whereas in the Cantus Firmus Masses there is a fairly
uniform practice of employing the borrowed melody as the tenor of each
Mass item, in the parody Masses a large variety of methods is used, in
regard to both the amount and the treatment of the borrowed material.
The 16th-century Parody Mass
incorporates not fragments
taken from individual parts but entire polyphonic segments of the model,
in this period usually a motet.