Grade: Senior
Subject: Music

#3116. Sanctus -- Frank Martin

Music, level: Senior
Posted Mon May 3 16:13:33 PDT 2004 by Marybeth K. Miller (
Wilmington Christian School, Hockessin, DE, USA
Materials Required: Selected CD, CD player, and handout and choral score for class
Activity Time: 1-2 class periods; assignment due later
Concepts Taught: Music Listening and Response

I am always trying to find ways to incorporate the other arts in my teaching. My high school choir keeps a listening log where they write informal responses and answer questions to different choral pieces that we listen to in class. Major assignments that I give once a marking period are basically an expanded version of a listening log entry. Students can work alone or in groups; I have done both but I would prefer to not grade 80+ essays, so they are working in groups for this activity. You need to introduce them to basic listening and responding BEFORE you give them an assignment like this. A listening log where they only have to write a couple of sentences is a good start. This takes the music a step beyond just notes and rhythms. These types of assignments are easy to create; especially good are compare/contrast topics with two different choirs singing the same song -- what's the difference? Or compare/contrast two sections from completely different masses, for example, the Agnus Dei sections from Rutter's Requiem and Faur's requiem. I have done these in class and the kids really like it. They grumble a little, but I only give one assignment per marking period, so they really can't complain. The handout for the kids is below.

Senior High Chorus Assignment
Listening Music: Frank Martin, Mass for double choir

The basic mass has five standard movements: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. The Sanctus movement praises God's glory and holiness.

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Holy, holy, holy.
Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Lord God of hosts.
Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua. Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in excelsis. Hosanna in the highest.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord
Hosanna in excelsis. Hosanna in the highest.

In a well-written essay or in paragraph form, answer the following questions. Make sure you take notes in class about the music as you listen. The assignment should be typed and at least one page long (double spaced).

1. What is the general mood or feeling of the piece? Does it remain consistent through the entire movement?
2. Why does Martin use two choirs to express the text? What effect does this have?
3. Frank Martin was a devout Christian, and felt that the Mass for double choir expressed the very essence of Christianity. He kept this piece secreted in a drawer for forty years before a friend finally convinced him to release it, but only after much persuasion. Why do you suppose Martin did not want this piece to be performed publicly? Do you agree with the reason?