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Osanna mass : unaccompanied choir

by Clare Maclean (2008)

Audio Sample

Performance by Sydney Chamber Choir, Paul Stanhope from the CD Osanna

Osanna mass


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Osanna mass : unaccompanied choir / Clare Maclean.

Library shelf no. 782.323/MAC 1 [Not for loan]

Work Overview

The title of the Osanna Mass is taken from part of the text of the Sanctus, Osanna in excelsis. The word osanna comes from the Hebrew hoshiana, which means "Save us now!" but has also taken on a connotation of praise-"hosanna in the highest!"-and the two threads of prayer and praise run through the text of the Mass.
The Mass movements are based on the set of plainchants for the Ordinary of the Mass, Kyriale IX (Cum iubilo), making it like a Renaissance paraphrase mass. Each movement also incorporates the chants of other movements, as well as Jewish liturgical melodies.
The music of the Osanna Mass acts like the illustrations of medieval manuscripts. The text of the Mass is 'illuminated' by the associations of the borrowed melodies and their texts, along with associations of the divine in accompanying material derived from church bells ("Gloria" and "Sanctus") and birdsong ("Benedictus"). Some visual aspects of medieval illustration are translated into music: at times the texture consists of decorative patterns, and the use of darker and lighter modal colours express the themes of prayer and praise in the text. These themes are also expressed symbolically through the use of flatter or sharper modes, and through the recurrence of significant pitches associated with these modes (for example, F#/Gb occurs in texts related to the passion of Christ). The recurring pitches further contain a more general symbolism, of the presence of the unchanging Transcendent, hidden in the world. This use of musical 'emblems' is like the way symbolic meanings were attached to visual emblems such as plants and animals in medieval illuminated manuscripts.

Work Details

Year: 2008

Instrumentation: SATB choir (Part divisions vary for each movement. The largest division is SSS AAAA TTTT BBB)

Duration: 30 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Some rhythmically and/or harmonically difficult passages

Contents note: Kyrie -- Gloria -- Credo -- Sanctus -- Benedictus -- Agnus Dei.

Written for: Sydney Chamber Choir

Awarded 'Work of the Year: Choral/Vocal' at the 2012 APRA/AMC Art Music Awards.

Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for/to
2012 Art Music Awards: Work of the Year: Vocal/Choral Winner Clare Maclean


Resonate article: 2012 Art Music Awards - comments by judging panels by Australian Music Centre


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