What is mass?

In music, mass refers to the setting of a church service (or mass) to music.

Robert Hollingworth discusses mass before I Fagiolini perform "Agnus Dei, Mass for five voices" by William Byrd, 1594

Mass particularly refers to the Roman Catholic Liturgy and is sung in Latin. The Anglican mass is musically similar but is sung in English.


Mass is usually performed a cappella.

Structure and form

The ordinary mass is made up of five main parts:

  1. Kyrie - Lord have mercy upon us
  2. Gloria - Glory be to thee.
  3. Credo - I believe in God the Father
  4. Sanctus (sometimes divided into Sanctus - Holy, Holy, Holy, and Benedictus - Blessed is he)
  5. Agnus Dei - O Lamb of God