Holy Week Highlights: Ghersem's Miraculous Mass of Mary

March 28, 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Tune in at 7 p.m. on March 28 to hear the Miraculous Mass of Mary by Renaissance master Gery de Ghersem, performed by The Rose Ensemble and special guest ensemble VOCES8.

Ghersem's "miraculous mass of Mary" scored for 7 voices, is categorized as a "parody mass" as it is based upon another work: a 5-voice motet, Ave Virgo Sanctissima ("Hail, Virgin Most Holy"), by the Spanish composer Francisco Guerrero. This motet was well known by Guerrero's contemporaries and admired greatly by them. Guerrero uses beautiful unison interplay between the top two soprano voices, which "follow" each other in what is called a canon. Ghersem took this model but elaborated upon it, giving his setting much more complexity - not only expanding from 5 to 7 voices, but also employing three canons and designating them "Trinitas in unitate" ("three-in-one"), a reference to the Trinity.

This performance of Ghersem's mass does not directly attempt to assemble a fully historical presentation (we do not know the occasion or setting for which the mass was composed), nor does it try to precisely recreate a ca. 1598 Latin Mass at the chapel of the Spanish court. It does, however, strive to give some historical musical and faux-liturgical context within which you might more fully enjoy Ghersem's composition. Incorporated herein are propers (plainchants such as the Introit and Offertory) sung by a schola of men or women, along with various liturgical prayers (sung by soloists, to represent the presiding clergy, etc.). These "Gregorian chants" for Sacratissimi Rosarii Beata Virginis Maria (the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary), celebrated on October 7, find a comfortable (and liturgically appropriate) home among the movements of Ghersem's Marian-themed mass.

About the Performers

The Rose Ensemble
Founded in 1996 and based in Saint Paul, Minnesota, The Rose Ensemble believes in the power and beauty of vocal music to stir the emotions, challenge the mind, and lift the spirit. Each performance illuminates centuries of rarely heard repertoire, bringing to modern audiences research from the world's manuscript libraries and fresh perspectives on history, languages, politics, world cultures, religion, and spiritual traditions.

Founded in 2003 by ex-choristers of Westminster Abbey, VOCES8's career has developed both in the classical choral scene and the world of a cappella with an annual touring schedule that takes the group to Europe, the USA, Africa and Asia. With an ongoing programme of recordings and live broadcasts VOCES8 is heard regularly on international television and radio including Deutschlandradio Kultur, ARTE TV and the BBC.


Augustine Thomas Ricchini: Hymn, Calestis aulae nuntius

Francisco Guerrero: Motet, Ave Virgo Sanctissima (a 5)

Gery de Ghersem: Kyrie, from Missa Ave Virgo Sanctissima

Gery de Ghersem: Gloria, from from Missa Ave Virgo Sanctissima


Gery de Ghersem: Credo, from Missa Ave Virgo Sanctissima

Peter Philips: Antiphon, Salve Regina (a 5

Francisco Guerrero: Villanesca, Pastor quien madre

Prafatio, de Beata Maria Virgine

Gery de Ghersem: Sanctus/Benedictus, from Missa Ave Virgo Sanctissima

Gery de Ghersem: Agnus Dei, from Missa Ave Virgo Sanctissima

Communio: Florete flores quasi lilium

On Now

Listen to the Stream
  • Fum, Fum, Fum; Riu Riu Chiu; I Saw Three Ships 10:52 Christmas Music
    Isthmus Brass
    John Stevens
    Buy Now
  • Violin Concerto No. 1 10:37 Johann Sebastian Bach
    Scottish Chamber Orchestra
    Jaime Laredo
    Jaime Laredo, violin
    Buy Now

You can now listen to Classical and Choral Music on your iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad) or Android device.

Classical Notes Blog

Read more