Lord Nelson Mass by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

Admiral Horatio Nelson trounced the French fleet in the Bay of Aboukir (Battle of the Nile) in August 1798 and was on a leisurely, roundabout journey back to Britain when he heard this Mass played at Esterhazy Palace in 1800. Haydn had composed it as the Missa in anguistiis (Mass in time of anxiety) two years earlier. By the time of the admiral’s heroic death in the Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805, it had become known as the Nelsonmesse, a nickname probably influenced by the military-sounding trumpets, soprano fireworks and jubilant finale.

The Kyrie brings the soprano soloist to the upper portion of her range with a flourish of 16th notes.  This exciting beginning sets the stage for the rest of the drama that unfolds in later movements. The Credo begins with the sopranos and tenors of the Chorale singing in unison, and is later answered by the altos and basses for a beautiful duet.  This continues until the Et incarnatus est.  The Lord Nelson Mass ends with a peaceful and memorable Dona nobis pacem.  Listen for the calming influence of this movement after the dramatic moments earlier in this Mass.

The weekly schedule of Chorale Masses is posted here, and printed copies are at the church entrance, along with donation envelopes. The Chorale is a non-profit organization and depends on the generosity of donors. Please send contributions to: Twin Cities Catholic Chorale, P.O. Box 4234, St. Paul, MN 55104. A few of our contributors have asked about sponsoring a specific Mass on a given Sunday. If you might be interested, please contact Virginia Schubert, the Chorale’s President, at inquiry@catholicchorale.org.


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