Missa in Tempore Belli (Paukenmesse) ‘Mass in Time of War’
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

1. Kyrie

2. Gloria

3. Credo

4. Sanctus

5. Benedictus

6. Agnus Dei

Haydn wrote the ‘Missa in Tempore Belli’ in 1796 during Austria’s lengthy conflict with Napoleonic France. The Mass acquired the nickname ‘Paukenmesse' ('Drum Mass’) because of the menacing timpani strokes in the Agnus Dei, ‘as if one heard the enemy approaching in the distance’, as Haydn himself is reputed to have said. It is thought that the first performance of the mass, one of the six masses that Haydn composed for the name day of Princess Josepha Maria, the wife of his employer Prince Paul Anton Esterhazy, took place in Eisenstadt on 13th September 1796. From 1795, Haydn dedicated all his time to the composition of vocal and choral music. As well as the final six masses, during this period Haydn also wrote the seminal oratorios ‘The Seasons’ and ‘The Creation’.

The work was originally scored for four soloists (SATB), SATB Choir and orchestra. For the first performance of the work there were no flute parts and the clarinets and horns were used only sparingly in the ‘Qui tollis’ and ‘Et incarnatus’. For later performances, the flute was added for the ‘Qui tollis’ and the clarinets and horns were used throughout.

The opening Kyrie and Gloria are typical of Haydn's late Masses both in structure and orchestration. The Kyrie begins with a slow introduction in which the timpani immediately play an important role. This slow and pensive introduction gives way to an Allegro moderato in sonata form, with important solos for the soprano and alto.

The Gloria falls into three distinct sections: an energetic introduction for choir and orchestra, a central adagio section featuring an expressive and expansive duet for solo 'cello and bass soloist, joined later by the solo flute doubling the 'cello, and thirdly a jubilant finale using key motifs from the opening section introducing the soprano soloist briefly in the concluding bars.

The considerable Credo is set in four sections. The opening section takes the form of a fugue almost Baroque in style utilizing the full chorus. The following slower section, beginning with the words ‘Et incarnatus est’ making full use of the four soloists in turn before a striking and harmonically unexpected choral entry at ‘Et homo factus est’. This moving statement gives way to a blazing proclamation of the resurrection in triple time, leading in turn to a vigorous double time vivace fugue at the words ‘Et vitam venturi’. It is thought that Haydn set the text of the Credo from memory, and accidentally omitted two phrases from the third section!

In general, both the relatively short Sanctus and the Benedictus are much gentler and more reflective in character than the preceding Credo. The most noteworthy section of the Sanctus occurs when there is a sudden outburst towards the end where the timpani can again be heard in the foreground, once again justifying the nickname of the work. The Benedictus is lyrical and sustained throughout and is scored almost entirely for the four soloists apart from the final six bars where the choir join them.

The conclusion of the work comes in the form of the emotionally charged and dramatic Agnus Dei. Again, the timpani take a starring role in this movement, playing insistent and menacing drum rolls throughout the opening section. The military atmosphere is sustained by the fanfare which ushers in the lively ‘Dona nobis pacem’ section which follows. This section brings the whole work to a jubilant close, thought to express Haydn's firm belief that Napoleon would eventually be defeated.