Missa Brevis
for SAB and Organ (2012)
by Ron Hannah


Duration: about 12.5 minutes

     Over the years I have often thought of writing a work such as this. When Andrea Mellis, singer, teacher, director, asked me to write a short Mass for her Summer Workshop, guaranteeing me a performance with first-class singers, I could delay no longer. How often does a commission like that come along? The workshop took place annually until 2014 in Sieggraben, Austria, a picturesque village not far from Vienna, She has been a sought-after instructor, there and in Vienna itself, for many years, and in 2013 I married her.


    It is in my typical pan-tonal, somewhat dissonant but still very accessible style that owes much to Romanticism, and I intended the lines to be constructed so as to be learned quickly since the workshop singers would not have a lot of rehearsal time. In fact, it was a little more challenging than I had thought. Still, the premiere performance was given, appropriately, in the context of a service at the parish church at Sieggraben. Thus, a good amateur choir with quick readers should be able to master it with a little work. The priest commented that it was "difficult material, but beautiful, and with great spirituality".

     A Missa Brevis consists of the "Kyrie", "Gloria", "Sanctus", "Benedictus", and "Agnus Dei" sections of the Mass, leaving out the longer "Credo". In keeping with the Brevis of the title, it is short, lasting a little over 12 minutes in all. It is largely in two voices, sopranos and baritones, with occasional sections in 3 parts (SAB). The "Benedictus" however is for 3 soloists, two sopranos and 1 baritone and is in three parts throughout. This movement is borrowed from "Seal Lullaby", the third of my own Four Canons for Three Voices. The gently rocking rhythm of that work seemed to suit nicely the comforting words from the Mass.

     A sample score may be downloaded by clicking the button above, and may also be obtained from the Canadian Music Centre. My only stipulation, should you choose to perform this work, is that you inform me, please, please, so that I can keep this website up-to-date. I want to keep track of how famous I am becoming. :)