When the Chorale first sang this Mass nine years ago, it likely was the first time any choir had sung it in North America.  When Monsignor Schuler was asked why he had chosen to add this “relatively obscure” work to the Chorale’s repertoire, he replied, “We already have sung a good deal of the Schubert, Beethoven and Haydn Masses. We have been going toward a more romantic style.   The Mass was just rediscovered and published.  I heard a recording of it from Europe and decided that I would like to do it.   It was a lot of work.  It is not something you just pick up and sing.”

Herzogenberg was a close friend of Johannes Brahms and was directly responsible for landmark scholarship concerning the music of J. S. Bach.   You will hear similarities in harmonies and styles to both of these famous composers.  This great Mass was believed to have been lost or destroyed in the war.   It was rediscovered in archival holdings sometime between 1994 and 1996.  Herzogenberg was a devoted Catholic and dedicated this Mass to the memory of his life-long friend and fellow Bach scholar, Phillip Spitta.

This Mass has the greatest demands of a large orchestra and chorus of any work in our repertoire.   The opening Kyrie could be considered a strong plea for mercy.*  It is the most dramatic Kyrie in our repertoire.   In contrast, the Gloria (usually powerful) is more contemplative in style.  The massive Credo contains elements of chant plus a beautiful double fugue.   The “et vitam venturi saeculi” at the end of the Credo is “one of the jewels of this Mass”*  The remaining sections of the Mass are lesser in size and scope, but contain beautiful melodies with creative compositional technique.  (*Bernd Wiechert, historian.)

We look forward to seeing you at Midnight Mass and wish you a very blessed Christmas.

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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