VI. The Berliner Messe (Berlin Mass) 1. Kyrie

4. Veni Sancte Spiritus

The Veni Sancte Spiritus continues in the “E Aeolian” modality. Pärt, now having introduced his cadenza-like approach to single-voice writing, reuses this rhythmic and melodic concept to open the movement, using the bass voices to outline the E minor triad, with the exception of some upper and lower neighbor tones. Upon first viewing the score, one would see that the writing is far

different from where we began in the Kyrie: It is much more sparse, and focuses upon pairings of two voices (tintinnabulation at it’s purest form.) However, it appears that Pärt is utilizing the second voice (which only uses notes of the tintinnabulating triad) far more sparsely, and as a means to create emphasis on particular words of the liturgical text. Although this seems simple in approach, and rather random, we should not dismiss it as so. As we have seen before, what appear to be the simplest concepts in his music often are the most complex.

The liturgical text of the Veni Sancte Spiritus in latin is as follows (with the bold text being that which has been emphasized):

Veni, Sancte Spiritus, et emitte caelitus lucis tuae radium. Veni, pater pauperum, veni, dator munerum, veni, lumen cordium. Consolator optime, dulcis hospes animae, dulce refrigerium. In labore requies, in aestu temperies in fletu solatium.

O lux beatissima, reple cordis intima tuorum fidelium. Sine tuo numine, nihil est in homine, nihil est innoxium. Lava quod est sordidum, riga quod est arium, sana quod est saucium. Flecte quod est rigidum, fove quod est frigidum, rege quod est devium. Da tuis fidelibus, in te confidentibus, sacrum septenarium. Da virtutis meritum, da salutis exitum, da perenne gaudium, Amen, Alleluia.

In English translation:

Come, Holy Spirit, send forth the heavenly radiance of your light. Come, father of the poor,

come giver of gifts, come, light of the heart. Greatest comforter, sweet guest of the soul, sweet consolation. In labor, rest, in heat, temperance, in tears, solace. O most blessed light,

fill the inmost heart of your faithful. Without your divine will, there is nothing in man,

nothing is harmless. Wash that which is unclean, water that which is dry, heal that which is wounded.

Bend that which is inflexible, warm that which is chilled, make right that which is wrong. Give to your faithful, who rely on you, the sevenfold gifts. Give reward to virtue,

give salvation at our passing on, give eternal joy. Amen. Alleluia.

By analyzing Pärt’s interpretation of the text, it is clear that his emphasis lies on the key words of each phrase. He places a great emphasis on such things as “poor” in “father of the poor”, or the superlative adjective “inmost” in “fill the inmost heart of your faithful.” In addition, by placing the emphasis on “that which”, it is clear that the unknown that the liturgical text refers to (e.g., the

“unclean”, “wounded”, and “inflexible”) matters a great deal to Pärt in reference to text-setting.

In regards to the pairings of voices, each pair of voices is preceded by a solo passage of whichever voice takes the dominant role. For example, the piece opens with a solo bass voice, which leads into a passage where the bass takes the dominant role, and the sopranos outline the

tintinnabulating chord using the “threshold technique” discussed in the Erster and Zweiter Alleluiavers.

Example 16a, Arvo Pärt, “Berliner Messe”, Veni Sancte Spiritus, Threshold Technique

Pärt now incorporates a new compositional method: the concept of row design, which may perhaps be a reference back to his past relationship involving serialism. Pärt develops a row,

beginning in the bass voice, which extends from mm.1-14.

Example 16b, Arvo Pärt, “Berliner Messe”, Veni Sancte Spiritus, Row Design mm.1-14, Bass voice

Pärt develops a melodic idea based around a centric note. The row can be divided into two halves; One half with a pitch axis based around “B”, and the other half based around the pitch axis

“E”, the two outer notes of the prime form of the tintinnabulating triad. The inner 3rd of this triad, which is an extremely important note, is not taken for granted; In both halves of the row, it is reinforced through repetition. These two halves are connected by a pivot note (“D”), which moves stepwise to the nearest tintinnabulating note, “E”. Likewise, at the end of the row, we find ourselves with another pivot note (“C”), that brings us back to the “B” that we began the row with.

Interestingly enough, this row, when repeated, is rhythmically displaced a certain growing number of beats. The chart below explains the re-statements of the row and their relative


Statement # 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Displacement 2 3 5 6 8 10 13 13 15 Inc.

Example 16c, Arvo Pärt, “Berliner Messe”, Veni Sancte Spiritus, Row Displacement

Statement #10 reads “Inc.”, as it is an incomplete statement. However, if we derive the “5-3-5-3” from “quod (est) devium” in the tenor voice (mm.101-104), we find that this can complete the fragment at the end of the piece.

Example 16d, Arvo Pärt, “Berliner Messe”, Veni Sancte Spiritus, mm.131-143, completion of incompleted row by derivative of mm.101-104

5. Credo

The Credo follows shortly after where the Veni Sancte Spiritus left off. In the row that Pärt used in the Veni, we examined how he pivoted around the “D” to move to “E” in the second half.

Take into consideration how Pärt ends the Veni Sancte Spiritus; He ends on a lingering “D” note, in a unison, homorhythmic texture utilizing the full SATB choir. This “D” is, in fact, the pivot note that will move us into the opening “E” found in the bass voice of the Credo. However, Pärt, in the interest of changing the color of the Credo, decides to move into the parallel major mode, E Ionian.

As another link between the Veni and the Credo, Pärt decides to reinterpret his row to fit around the

new modality. The example below is the row design for the Credo, the bottom numbers showing the cipher notation, and the top numbers showing the ordered pitch intervals (coinciding with the set-class theory analysis used by Straus, 2005.) Motifs and their development in the row are labeled, and shown with brackets.

Example 17a, Arvo Pärt, “Berliner Messe”, Credo, Row Design

As notated in the example 17a above, the row of the Credo is made up of 3 separate motivic ideas, developed through retrograde and inversion. The 26-note row concludes with a low “B” that falls outside of the motivic analysis, but instead serves as a linking note to begin the row once more.

Unlike the use of a repeating row in the Veni Sancte Spiritus, Pärt creates development in the composition by dropping notes out of the row systematically, and adding them to the end of the row. For instance, the 1st and 2nd statements of the row, in cipher notation, are as follows:

“1-2-3-4-3-2-1-5-4-1-3-2-1-5-7-6-5-6-7-1-4-5-6-7-1-5” – Statement 1

“1-4-3-2-1-5-4-1-3-2-1-5-7-6-5-6-7-1-4-5-6-7-1-5-2-3” – Statement 2

The unique approach to Pärt’s canonic writing in the Credo is his method of restating the row in the same voice that finishes last. In the first row, Pärt begins the Credo in the tenor and bass voices, with the tenors tintinnabulating and the basses singing the melodic line (in this case, the row.) The altos and sopranos enter 9 beats later, in strict canonic writing at the octave, however slightly changing rhythmically so that the rests at the end of each phrase happen simultaneously. He creates this by changing where the augmented rhythms are in the text. Continuing on, the tenor/bass

canon ends at mm.10, while the soprano/alto canon ends 2 measures later. Unlike some canonic writing, where the tenor and bass voices would’ve began the next motivic gesture while the soprano/alto voices were still singing (to create a constant stream of ideas), Pärt places the next installment of the row directly after the first row in the soprano/alto voices end. This allows him to reverse the leader/follower roles in the canon, and now the truncated row (with the added notes at the end) begins in the soprano/alto voices, with the tenor/bass following 9 beats afterwards.

The melodic row is stated 12 times, with 2 pitches dropping each time (in the appropriate order of the row) and reappearing at the very end of the row. The first and last statements of the row are complete statements, with zero notes dropped, which leads even the most astute listener to believe the piece has come to a close. Pärt ends the Credo with a restatement of “1-2-3-4-3-2-1”. (It is important to note that, while Pärt adheres very strictly to the compositional processes in the Credo, he does drop some notes from the row that are not coinciding with the 2-note rule. The notes that he does drop, however, are tintinnabuli notes, which may be related to the idea that the notes that we clearly hear are those that are not of the underlying triad.)

The Credo makes an interesting use of silence and pause: similar to Pärt’s other pieces, all 4 voices will pause at the same moment in time, to create these sonic gaps where the harmonics (usually created by the reverberation in the performance hall) has a chance to breathe. It is not complete silence, but the sound that exists within this gap in and of itself that creates such a dramatic effect. The sounds that exist around these pauses are much more pronounced as a result, and the outcome is a very musical silence, not to be disregarded. However, Pärt does sacrifice some canonic rule for the sake of these pauses in the music. In the second statement of the row, between notes “5-4-1” and “3-2-1”, there exists a pause in the soprano/alto voices. This same pause,

regardless of augmentations in rhythm or stressed syllabification, does not exist at the same position in the row in the tenor/bass voices.

Example 17b, Arvo Pärt, “Berliner Messe”, Credo, mm.13-20, Canonic Writing

He instead moves this pause in between notes “1-5-7” and “6-5-6” of the row, so that the pause in the tenor/bass voices happens to land exactly with the pause in the soprano/alto voices, who are at a later point in the row from the canon. Had he placed the pause where it would have been according to canonic rule, the harmonic vocabulary of the composition would completely change due to a displacement of melodic and rhythmic figures.

6. Sanctus

The Sanctus of the Roman Catholic Mass is as follows:

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth.

Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua.

Hosanna in excelsis.

Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.

Hosanna in excelsis.

In English translation:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.

Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.

In the Sanctus of the Berliner Messe, Pärt completely drops the soprano voice from the

texture. This leaves the three lower voices, with the altos singing in their lower register, allowing for a greater amount of voice exchange between the tenor and alto voices, and therefore a tighter sense of chord structure and harmony. Pärt, similar to the Kyrie, uses the H135/H153 classes to outline the melodic voice, which is broken up into fragments with a centricity that leans towards C-sharp (the perceived key is C-sharp minor, or Aeolian.)

Example 18a, Arvo Pärt, “Berliner Messe”, Sanctus, mm.1-7

Pitch centricity plays a key role in the melodic setting of the text. Phrases such as “5-6-7-1-1-(1)-4-3-2-1” (the cipher notation used for “Hosanna in excelsis”, mm.16-18) show a rising and falling tendency towards C# as a gravitational constant. However, to create tension and “motion” in the development of the Sanctus, Pärt will occasionally invert the gestures to move away from the target note, as the Gloria had earlier done. The Sanctus is of considerably shorter length than the previous texts, and the somber harmonic language, lower registers of each voice, and more sparse feel give the listener a feeling of calm tranquility. The organ, similar to how it had served a purpose in the Kyrie, outlines the H-classes in a similar function.

Although the highest pitch in the Sanctus is found in the text “Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini”, it should be noted that, in performance practice, many quality recordings of the Berliner Messe feature the line “Hosanna in excelsis” as the loudest in volume and intensity (mm.16-18, directly preceding the “Benedictus”.)16 Although dynamics are not marked in the piece, from a performance perspective, there is an inclination to follow the text “Hosanna in the highest” in a literal translation of dynamics.

16 Example recordings may be found by Noel Edison with the Elora Festival Orchestra (Naxos), a recording with Tonu Kaljuste and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir & Tallinn Chamber Orchestra (ECM Records), and Stephen Layton with Polyphony (Hyperion UK).

Another interesting aspect of Pärt’s organ writing in the Sanctus is its relation to historical and practical purpose in the Roman church. In a ceremonial setting, the Sanctus bells (tiny handheld bells, derivative of their earlier, larger counterparts) are rung as a way to “create a joyful noise for the Lord during the Mass.”17 It is known that the Sanctus bells, originally larger in size (for practical purposes), became handheld over time out of convenience. The organ writing (which will be replaced with string passages in the 2002 revision of the Berliner Messe) is written 8va, in the right hand and upper register. There is almost a peaceful incongruity between the bell-like, high passages of the organ, and the low harmonies of the alto/tenor/bass voices that has not been previously explored to this extreme in the Berliner Messe.

In a ceremonial Sanctus of the Tridentine Mass, the priest, upon reaching the passage

“Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini”, will make the sign of the cross upon himself. While Pärt does not incorporate the Canon of the Mass into the Sanctus, the unique 4-note motif repeated in the organ is reminiscent of the sign of the cross. Although it does not bear a direct resemblance (e.g., as in a falling gesture that the priest would make from his forehead to his heart), and there has been no confirmed evidence that this has an intentional connection, it is interesting to note that the first two organ passages leading to the “Benedictus” passage are rising figures, whereas the last two organ passages surrounding the “Benedictus” passage are falling figures, similar to the gesture one would make with the hand when completing the sign of the cross.

17 "Sanctus Bells Their History and Use in the Catholic Church by Matthew D. Herrera." Adoremus Home Page. Web. 25 Nov.

2011. <>.

Example 18b, Arvo Pärt, “Berliner Messe”, Sanctus, Organ Passages

In document Two Tangled Golden Threads Arvo Part's Tintinnabulation and Berliner Messe - John Forrestal (2011) (Page 39-50)