Mass in A major, Op. 126 (Rheinberger)

The Mass in A major, Op. 126, is a setting of the mass ordinary in Latin by Josef Rheinberger. He composed it in 1881, originally for a three-part choir (SSA) with organ. When he conducted the first performance at the Allerheiligen-Hofkirche in Munich on Christmas Eve, he added a flute and a string quintet. He wrote a version with orchestra later.

Mass in A major
In Nativitate Domini
by Josef Rheinberger
Allerheiligen Hofkirche1886a.jpg
KeyA major
CatalogueOp. 126
Composed1881 (1881)
Performed24 December 1881 (1881-12-24): Allerheiligen-Hofkirche. Munich
  • SSA choir
  • organ
  • optional: flute and string quintet, or orchestra


Josef Rheinberger composed 14 masses, in addition to three Requiem masses and several youthful mass compositions. Most of these works were written during his tenure as Bavarian court composer in Munich, beginning in 1877, when liturgical music became his focus. All initial versions of these works use organ accompaniment.[1] He wrote the Mass in A major, subtitled "Missa in Nativitate Domini" (Mass for the Birth of the Lord) within a few days in June 1881 for the Allerheiligen-Hofkirche of the Munich Residenz. It was published the same year.[1] He conducted the first performance on Christmas Eve.[1][2][3] While he composed the work originally for a three-part choir (SSA) with organ, he added a flute and a string quintet in the premiere, played by members of the Hofkapelle.[1][3] The manuscript autograph is held by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München.[3]

The mass was published by Carus-Verlag in 1994 as part of the complete edition of the composer's works.[1][4]

Structure and musicEdit

Rheinberger set the parts of the mass ordinary in five movements:[1][3]

  1. Kyrie
  2. Gloria
  3. Credo
  4. Sanctus and Benedictus
  5. Agnus Dei

The lines of the voices are singable (cantabile) throughout the composition and avoid extreme registers. They are often in homophony. The organ has a supporting function, without concertante elements. The main character of the music is lyrical and mellow.[3] A reviewer described the mass as a "highly optimistic yet profoundly reverent score".[2]


The mass was recorded in 2001, together with two other masses by Rheinberger, by the women's voices of the Renaissance Singers of Blackburn Cathedral, conducted by Richard Tanner, with organist Greg Morris.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Hochstein, Wolfgang, ed. (2004). "Josef Gabriel Rheinberger / Messe in A op. 126 / Mass in A major" (PDF). Carus-Verlag. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b c Cookson, Michael (August 2004). "Josef Gabriel Rheinberger (1839-1901) / Mass in A major, "Missa in Nativitate Domini" for three-part chorus and organ, op.126 (1881)". Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e Roßbach, Judith (4 February 2020). "Missa in A op. 126" (in German). Diocese of Cologne. Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  4. ^ "Josef Gabriel Rheinberger / Mass in A major 'in nativitate Domini'". Carus-Verlag. Retrieved 1 November 2021.

External linksEdit