Mass (Jongen)

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The Mass, Op. 130, is a setting of the Latin Mass ordinary by Joseph Jongen for choir, brass band and organ. Jongen composed it in 1945 in memory of his brother Alphonse. The full title is Messe en l'honeur du Saint-Sacrement. Five movements were first performed in 1946 at the Liège Cathedral. The work was published by Oxford University Press in 1990.

by Joseph Jongen
Cathédrale Saint-Paul de Liège - innerview 1.jpg
Cathédrale Saint-Paul de Liège, where the mass was first performed
EnglishMass in honour of the Blessed Sacrament
Full titleMesse en l'honeur du Saint-Sacrement
CatalogueOp. 130
Occasion700 years of the feast Corpus Christi
TextMass ordinary
Composed1945 (1945) / 1949 (Credo)
DedicationAlphonse Jongen
Performed23 June 1946 (1946-06-23)
Published1990 (1990)
  • choir
  • brass
  • organ


The Belgian composer Joseph Jongen is known mostly for instrumental and chamber music. He has written around 60 art songs and secular choral works, but little sacred music. After he retired as the director of the Brussels Conservatoire in 1939 however, his interest in choral compositions for the church was raised by Georges Alexis, who had studied with him at the Liège Conservatoire. Alexis possibly initiated the writing of a mass to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the feast Corpus Christi in Liège.[1]

During world War II, Jongen could not compose anything from August 1944, due to the depressing circumstances of his life at the time. His brother Alphonse who had been a canon at the Liège Cathedral and to whom he had been close, died after surgery.[2][1] His son Jacques was arrested by the Gestapo. Jacques was freed again in March 1945, and Jongen wrote later: "It was then that I began to write the Mass."[1]

Jongen completed the Mass at Sart-lez-Spa between 9 July and 16 August 1945 and dedicated it to the memory of his brother Alphonse. Jongen first wrote a missa brevis, omitting the Credo from the mass ordinary.[1] The full title is Messe en l'honeur du Saint-Sacrement, marking it as a mass in honour of the Blessed Sacrament.[2]

The Mass was first performed on Corpus Christi, 23 June 1946, during a pontifical mass at the Cathédrale Saint-Paul de Liège, conducted by the composer.[2] The work is also known as Messe de la Fête-Dieu, after the feast day.[1]

Jongen completed it to a setting of the full mass by adding the Credo in 1949. It was published by Oxford University Press in 1990.[2]

Structure, scoring and musicEdit

The mass is structured in six movements.[2] All four voices SATB are at times divided, mostly in homophony. The voices are marked "solo" at the beginning of the Benedictus. The brass ensemble consists of two trumpets, four horns, three trombones and tuba.[2]

In the following table of the movements, the markings and time signatures are taken from the vocal score.[2][3]

Incipit Voices Marking Key Time
Kyrie SATB Modéré G minor  
Gloria SATTBB Allegro (ma moderato) D major 3/4
Credo SATB Allegro moderato D major 2/2
Sanctus S A T B SATB Maestoso (Fanfare) D major  
Benedictus SATB Andantino (non troppo mosso) G major 12/8
Agnus dei SATB Grave E minor  

Alexis inspired several musical features of the Mass, such including elements from Gregorian chant, the inclusion of brass instruments after the model of Giovanni Gabrieli, and writing more counterpoint than before, such as fugato for "Pleni sunt caeli" of the Sanctus, and counterpoint in the voices in the "Cum Sancto Spiritu" of the Gloria and the "Et resurrexit" of the Credo. Links between movements are subtle, "often texturally rather than thematically related".[1]

Performance and recordingEdit

The first performance of the Mass in Germany was performed by the Reger-Chor, conducted by Gabriel Dessauer, in 1988 before it was printed, at the Stiftskirche of Aschaffenburg, repeated in St. Bonifatius, Wiesbaden.[4]

The Mass was recorded in 1994 by the Brussels Choral Society and the Luc Capouillez Brass Ensemble, conducted by Tom Cunningham.[5] It was recorded again in 2007 by St. John's College Choir, Cambridge, the London City Brass and organist Paul Provost, conducted by David Hill.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Whiteley, John Scott, ed. (2007). "Messe en l'honeur du Saint-Sacrement, Op 130". Hyperion. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Whiteley, John Scott; Cunningham, Tom, eds. (1990). Mass / Op. 130 / Vocal Score. Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ Whiteley, John Scott; Cunningham, Tom, eds. (1990). Mass, Op. 130. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-337178-1.
  4. ^ Joseph Jongen: Messe, Op. 130 (in German). Reger-Chor. 1988.
  5. ^ "Mass opus 130". 1994. Retrieved 11 December 2015.

External linksEdit