Martin’s Mass comes from of the Catholic tradition (rather than Bach’s Lutheran) and thus the text and sequence of movements is dictated by that church’s liturgy. While Martin’s setting of the mass was written almost 200 years after Fürchte, the origins of the text date back to the 3rd and 4th centuries! The weight of nearly two millennia has produced a spiritual message which continues to shatter the evil of our secular world.
As we focus on the two initial movements (Kyrie and Gloria), we are beginning to understand the atmospheric harmonies revealed by Martin’s polyphony—the long threads that are woven into his spectacular tapestry—a new texture based on the old master—Johann Sebastian Bach. And we are discovering the richness of Martin’s rhythmic and harmonic language.
The Kyrie is a heart-rending prayer for our troubled time:
Lord have mercy,
Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy.
The Gloria begins:
Glory to God in the highest and peace to all people.
If it ended there (and there is much more), Martin (and the mass) would have said enough! Perhaps life is a struggle for significance, not fame or fortune, just significance—the Bach and Martin are remarkable musical settings of spiritually consequential texts—they are significant! As you overcome the challenges—and yes, I know you are struggling—I promise that you will gain deep spiritual understanding which you will NEVER forget and great wisdom that you will NEVER lose.
Paul W. Wiens, conductor