I am in my chilly native place at the moment. Tomorrow, I’ll have the 10 AM Mass at my home parish, St. Agnes in St. Paul, where I have not been for a long while… too long. The music is Haydn’s Nelsonmesse, called also the Missa in angustiis (Mass for Troubled Times) and also Gregorian chant for the Proper. Angustiae are “narrows or straits, difficulties”. I’d like to write “Mass in Dire Straights”, but that summons images of Mark Knopfler. No guitar tomorrow.
It is rather dark, however. The opening of the Kyrie sets the tone, though nothing can hold the Viennese buoyancy down for too long a stretch at a time.
The nickname “Nelson Mass” comes from its inception at the time of Admiral Nelson’s great 1798 Nile victory (which its the battle wherein fought Jack Aubrey). All of Austria was filled with anxiety over the grinding away at Europe by Napoleon, thus, “Missa in angustiis“. Also, Nelson may have attended a Mass with this music.
The Mass will be in the Ordinary Form, though celebrated – as usual at St. Agnes – as Romanly as can be with a strong dose of the ceremonies of Westminster Cathedral, with a dash of Brompton. It has been years since I have sung the Roman Canon in Latin.