The French Organ Mass is a type of Low Mass that came into use during the Baroque Era. Essentially it is a Low Mass with organ music playing throughout.

Before the 1950s, Low Mass, unlike Solemn Mass or High Mass, was said in a low voice by priest and server(s). The congregation in attendance at Low Mass did not participate audibly and either followed along with their Missals or silently said prayers during Mass. In France the custom arose of playing the organ during Low Mass to add to the devotion of the faithful. Certainly, this was done by improvisation at first, but later, composers wrote pieces whose mood corresponded to the different parts of the Mass.

Composers of French Organ Masses

The following is a list of composers of French organ masses, arranged chronologically by date of publication of their masses.

  • Guillaume-Gabriel Nivers (1632–1714)
    • a mass in Second livre d'orgue (1667)
  • Nicolas Lebègue (1631–1702)
    • a mass in Second livre d'orgue (1678)
  • Nicolas Gigault (c. 1627–1707)
    • three masses in Livre de musique pour l'orgue (1685)
  • André Raison (1640s–1719)
    • five masses in Premier livre d'orgue (1688)
  • François Couperin (1668–1733)
    • Messe à l'usage ordinaire des paroisses (1689–90)
    • Messe propre pour les couvents de religieux et religieuses (1689–90)
  • Nicolas de Grigny (1672–1703)
    • La Messe in Premier livre d'orgue (1699)
  • Gaspard Corrette (1670–c. 1733)
    • Messe du 8e Ton pour l'Orgue à l'Usage des Dames Religieuses (1703)
  • Michel Corrette (1707–1795)
    • masses of the Troisième livre d'orgue (1756)
  • Josse-François-Joseph Benaut (1743–1794)
    • at least 10 masses in numerous Livres des pièces d'orgue

Additionally, an anonymous manuscript (Paris Conservatoire Rés.746, formerly 24827) created around 1680 contains an organ mass by an unknown composer. The manuscript was attributed by Amédée Gastoué to a member of the Geoffroy family, probably Jean-Nicolas Geoffroy, however, according to later research, there is no evidence for such attribution.[1]

See also


  1. Apel 1972, 746.

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