Paris; d. Saint-Cloud was a practicing Catholic and as a youth contemplated becoming a priest. He eventually decided he was unsuited for the priesthood but expressed his devotion in numerous works of sacred music. After winning the Grand Prix de Rome in , Gounod spent much of his time at the Sistine Chapel listening to and studying the works of sixteenth century masters. During the summer of , while at work on the St. I have translated them; that is my time of reflection.
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Cecilia Mass was his first major work. The review was published in Paris and raised expectations. The premiere was performed on St. In the Gloria, the prayer miserere nobis have mercy on us is intensified by an added Domine Jesu Lord Jesus. The mass has an instrumental offertory.
In the Agnus Dei, the soloists sing between the three invocations the text "Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea" Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say a word and I shall be healed , sung once by the tenor, once by the soprano.
The movement ends with an added Amen. The changes have been criticized as not liturgically strict. The soloists act mostly as an ensemble, without arias. Gounod scored the mass for a large orchestra, demanding six harps.
In Gloria and Sanctus, he highlighted passages by pistons cornets ,  typical instruments of the romantic French orchestra.
In Benedictus and Agnus Dei, he was the first composer to use the newly developed octobass , a string instrument of the violone family. He included the great organ, mostly in Grand jeu.
Messe solennelle de Sainte-Cécile (Gounod, Charles)
Charles Gounod’s Saint Cecilia Mass
Messe solennelle de sainte Cécile