Mass for the Endangered
Composer, Sarah Kirkland Snider
Text by Nathaniel Bellows
Video art by Deborah Johnson
"Breathtaking beauty." -- The New Yorker
"A prayer for endangered wildlife and their imperiled environments...elegiac and affecting." -- Wall Street Journal
Sarah Kirkland Snider's "Mass for the Endangered" is a six-movement work performed by English vocal ensemble Gallicantus, led by Gabriel Crouch. The work is a celebration of, and elegy for, the natural world.
Snider explains, “The origin of the Mass is rooted in humanity’s concern for itself, expressed through worship of the divine—which, in the Catholic tradition, is a God in the image of man. Nathaniel and I thought it would be interesting to take the Mass’s musical modes of spiritual contemplation and apply them to concern for non-human life—animals, plants, and the environment. There is an appeal to a higher power—for mercy, forgiveness, and intervention—but that appeal is directed not to God but rather to Nature itself.”
This emphatic articulation of purpose, sung by and for other humans, seems to be reaching beyond environmentalism and toward morality at large.--The New York Times
[Mass for the Endangered] ...conveys its urgent ecological message with power and beauty.--BBC
Jointly released by New Amsterdam and Nonesuch
On earth, air, and water,
On stone, tree, and flower,
World have mercy.
Give mercy to all wing and paw,
mercy to all creed and claw,
on flower, seed, leaf, and root.
Give mercy to all broods and tribes,
mercy to all nests and prides;
to tide and spring, squall and breeze,
to those who plead for calm and peace,
not hunted, hounded, poisoned, fleeced.
To barren, poisoned land:
To the vanished, and the left:
World forgive us.
Mercy on this refuge,
this braided boundless stone.
Mercy for their old,
mercy for their young.
And mercy now
for what we've done.
— Nathaniel Bellows