Mass (chamber version) (1971)Duration: 108 minutes
A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers
from the Liturgy of the Roman Mass. Additional texts by Stephen Schwartz
Celebrant (lead solo), Soloists (from Street People) SATB Choir (12); Boys' Choir (10); Street People (16, plus 3 dancers) 1.0.1(=sax).0-126.96.36.199(=fender bass)-stage perc(2):SD/BD/2hanging tom-t/floor tom-t/ 3susp.cym/splash cym/crash cym/sizzle cym/marching cym/Swiss cowbell/ride cowbells/orch bells/chimes/tam-t/tgl/2timbales/tpl.bl/2wdbl/tamb/xyl/marimba/vib-harp-organ-guitar-elec.guitar-bass guitar-elec.pft-1 vln-pre-recorded tape.
This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.
Massis based on the Roman Catholic Mass, as seen from the point of view of a Celebrant who is experiencing a crisis of faith. It follows the liturgy exactly, but the liturgical passages are juxtaposed against frequent interruptions and commentaries by the Celebrant and the congregation, much like a running debate. The Celebrant’s faith is simple and pure at first, as shown in his wish to sing "a simple song" in praise of God. Yet that faith gradually becomes unsustainable under the weight of human misery, corruption, and the trappings of human power. In the end, the Celebrant, on the verge of renouncing his faith, finds that the loneliness of his doubt is no match for the the joy of gathering together with other believers in praise.