Charpentier: Messe de Menuit pour Noël (SSAA soli, SSAA choir, flutes, strings and continuo)

Mass for Christmas Night

By: Marc-Antoine Charpentier
For: Choir + orchestra
page one of Charpentier: Messe de Menuit pour Noël (SSAA soli, SSAA choir, flutes, strings and continuo)

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Charpentier: Messe de Menuit pour Noël (SSAA soli, SSAA choir, flutes, strings and continuo)

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Composer
Marc-Antoine Charpentier
Year of composition
1694
Lyricist
Liturgical
Publisher
Difficulty
Moderate (Grades 4-6)
Duration
25 minutes
Genre
Classical music
License details
For anything not permitted by the above licence then you should contact the publisher first to obtain permission.

The Messe de Minuit was written around 1694 for the Jesuit church of Saint-Louis in Paris.What is remarkable about this mass is the use of ten French noëls (Christmas carols) in the composition. In the liturgy the birth of Christ is celebrated with three masses: the first during the night of December 24th, the second in the early morning of December 25th, and the third on the day itself. A special atmosphere surrounds the first of these masses on account of the midnight hour, and so Charpen­tier gave special expression to the long observed practice in France of including popular Christmas carols in the Christmas liturgy by including them in the composition of his midnight mass. Although the Council of Trent had forbidden this kind of borrowing of secular melodies in masses in principle, long established customs were tolerated. Charpentier’s justly famous Messe de Minuit represents a “perfect synthesis” between the secular and liturgical, and between the popular and learned. Adapting the vast majority of the Latin mass to French noëls, the Messe de Minuit’s freshness and joyful spirit perfectly represent Advent. While Charpentier used ten different noël’s through the course of the work, the most serious moment of the mass, the statements of Christ’s incarnation, his mortal existence, and his death under Pontius Pilate, is given wholly original, appropriately sober music.

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