I did not originally set out to compose a Mass. The possibility presented itself to me in the process of my attempt as a composer to pay tribute to an era in human history. As a result of that process, I have completed Mass in E-Flat: Millennium in anticipation of worldwide celebrations which will soon commemorate the turn of the millennium. While musically this Mass speaks of the millennium now closing, the timeless Biblical and liturgical text speaks to the millennium about to begin.
The music is stylistically traditional, incorporating major stylistic features from the past thousand years of Western-world music history, from medieval chant forward. The synthesis of those styles from past periods is, I believe, uniquely my own.
The story of the evolution of the Roman Catholic Mass as a musical genre fills countless volumes. Consequently, one cannot begin to describe in a single page all the reasons why settings of the entire Mass (both the items from the Proper and the items from the Ordinary) are virtually no longer composed. In composing a Mass which attempts to honor this millennium, I have found it essential not only to set the Ordinary (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei) but also to compose five additional items to represent the Mass Proper: Introit, Gradual, Alleluia, Offertory, and Communion. The Psalm texts I chose for these five items do not belong to a specific feast day named in the Roman Catholic liturgy. It is the universal message of these Psalm verses which, within this 10-movement work, creates a kind of Mass for all seasons. Mass in E-Flat: Millennium is conceptually and thematically, by choice of music and text, a celebration of the second millennium of Christianity at the advent of the third. In the broadest sense, yet in the simplest terms, this work is a calling for unity, a prayer of hope.
Patricia Mattlage Long • May, 1998