Renaissance Mass and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
- An important component of Roman Catholic worship which includes a reenactment of the Last Supper (Eucharist), prayers, and Scripture reading. The prayers were divided into two categories, proper and ordinary.
- Proper … The prayers of mass in which the text changes according to the church calendar.
- Ordinary … The prayers of mass in which the texts would remain the same throughout the church calendar. With the rise of polyphony in the Renaissance era, the ordinary became the most prominent composition. There are five sections:
- Kyrie … Is the first section of the ordinary and is a prayer for mercy.
- Gloria … Is the second section of the ordinary and is a hymn of praise.
- Credo … Is the third section of the ordinary and is a statement of faith.
- Sanctus … Is the fourth section of the ordinary and is a declaration of God’s holiness.
- Agnus Dei … Is the fifth section of the ordinary.
- Protestant reformation
- Reformer, Martin Luther, led a revolt against the Roman Catholic church, wanting to return to the practises of the early church. He revolt initiated the protestant movement. Luther was the composer of many battle hymns of the reformation which were typically sung in the vernacular and in homophonic texture with the melody carried by the soprano. These chorales were later used by Baroque composers for the framework of some sacred cantatas
- Martin Luther
- The leader of the protestant reformation, Luther was also a composer of the battle hymns. These battle hymns, chorales, were homophonic in texture with the soprano carrying the melody. Luther desired his services to be carried out in the vernacular
- The Roman Catholic Church responded to the protestant revolt with the counter-reformation in which the church concluded that true Christian piety must be returned to the church
- Council of Trent
- (1545-1563) The council was a group of cardinals who were assigned the task of regulating music during the counter reformation. They abolished the use of some instruments, secular texts, and extravagant embellishments. Some wished to abolish polyphony entirely but the other music loving members of the council disagreed on so drastic a move. Virtuosity was discouraged and extravagance discouraged. Clarity and purity of text to encourage pious worship was required
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594)
It is presumed that Palestrina was the answer to the demands of the Council of Trent, as much of his music is written with great text clarity striving for a pure vocal style. Giovanni experimented with combinations of varying textures, varying pitches and varying amounts of voices. His employment with the church allowed him the opportunity to write a great quantity of sacred vocal music. He also wrote some secular vocal music, of which later he regretted having wrote.
Missa Papae Marcelli (Pope Marcellus Mass) (Gloria)
This serenely beautiful mass was written in 1567 and was one of the ordinary. As the mass is typically sung in a capella, it is thought that the work was written as a response to the demands of the Council of Trent. The mass frequently shifts texture, vocal density, vocal range, and Palestrina cautiously applies decoration to aid the clarity of text. It was written for six voices, which could be sung by an all male choir requiring a young boy or male falsetto to sing the soprano line. Vocal purity shines in this magnificent work. The opening line “Gloria in excelsis Deo” (Glory to God in the highest) is sung in a monophonic texture by a solo voice, probably originally sung by the leading celebrant or officiating priest, then answered by a line which displays clear word declamation in carefully woven together polyphonic texture.