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 happens annually in Sieggraben, Austria, not far from Vienna, and she has been a sought-after instructor there for many years, in addition to being its founder.


    It is in my typical pan-tonal, somewhat dissonant but still very accessible style that owes much to Romanticism, and the lines were constructed so as to be quickly learned since the workshop singers would not, in fact, have a lot of rehearsal time. The premiere performance was given, appropriately, in the context of a service at the Pfarrkirche Sieggraben. Hence, a good amateur choir with quick readers should be able to master it quite easily (despite the Pastor's comment 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.

     The score and MIDI sound files may be downloaded by clicking the buttons above, or they may also be obtained from the Canadian Music Centre. My only stipulation, should you choose to download and perform this work, is that you inform me promptly so that I can keep this website up-to-date.