• Peter Dickinson
  • A Mass of the Apocalypse (1984)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Commissioned by St James' Church, Piccadilly, London, for the 300th anniversary of the church with funds from the Arts Council

  • 2percpf
  • SATB
  • 25 min

Programme Note

Peter Dickinson's Mass of the Apocalypse is having its first performance today. This has been commissioned for the 300th anniversary of the church; Peter Dickinson has composed other music for the service including new harmonisations of traditional hymns.

Peter Dickinson has written church music for the Anglican rite for choir and organ, but the new work is for choir with accompaniment for two professional percussion players and a pianist, with a role for an actor as well. In the main sections of the Mass verses from Revelation are spoken to a musical background and these are fused with the Communion Service text from the modern Series A. The modern text contrasts with the text of the Authorised Version emphasising the apocalyptic aspects potentially contained within the ordinary of the Mass.

The hymns are closely connected with the music, so that the most public aspect of worship is incorporated. The reharmonised settings of the hymns bring traditional tunes into a wider range of harmony characteristic of the twentieth century. Often the familiar tunes are known in nineteenth-century settings, whereas the melodies are earlier. There is no reason why this situation should remain.

The Mass is dedicated to the Revd Donald Reeves and is being sung by the St James's Singers conducted by Ivor Bolton. James Holland, chief percussionist of the BBC Symphony Orchestra is the first percussionist and Shirley Dixon is the speaker

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