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

Full press reviews here

Jointly released by New Amsterdam and Nonesuch

1. Kyrie


Kyrie Eleison


On earth, air, and water,

have mercy.

On stone, tree, and flower,

have mercy.

World have mercy.


Kyrie Eleison

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:

Forgive us.

To the vanished, and the left:

Forgive us.

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.


Kyrie Eleison


— Nathaniel Bellows

2. Gloria


Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Et in terra pax

hominibus bonæ voluntatis.


Laudamus te; benedicimus te;

adoramus te; glorificamus te.

Gratias agimus tibi

propter magnam gloriam tuam.


Domine Deus, Rex caelestis,

Deus Pater omnipotens.

Domine Fili unigenite Jesu Christe.

Domine Deus, Agnus Dei,

Filius Patris.

Qui tollis peccata mundi,

miserere nobis.

Qui tollis peccata mundi,

suscipe deprecationem nostram.

Qui sedes ad dextram Patris,

O miserere nobis.


Quoniam tu solus Sanctus,

tu solus Dominus,

tu solus Altissimus, Jesu Christe.

Cum Sancto Spiritu

in gloria Dei Patris.



3. Alleluia


Sea of cradle, foundling,

current, cold and quelled as morning.

Braid of vapored ashes,

shadowed creche, collapsing.


Contour, carve, corrode—

breathe through camphor, coal,

seed each breeze with gold.

Poison, parch, pollute—

plow the coast, the dune,

flow toward constant moon.



Hearth of stone, of tar, of lava,

shelter shielding mother.

Oh, save us mother!



She who is sleeping,

Is she who will wake.


Fracture, foist, defoul—

shatter cliff and shoal,

sand each stone to whole.

Harbored, held, unharmed—

she’ll wake, rise, rejoin,

her daughters and her sons.




— Nathaniel Bellows

4. Credo


We believe in stone and moss, 

sand and grass. Land limned on loam, 

haven to the harmed and the whole, 

the lesser and the left, the spirit housed
in the opposite.


We believe in all
who are offset. 


We believe in the blessing of wing,

angelic, ingenious—every
soaring thing. We believe in the holy
pelt and fin, hoary hide and shell.

The armor of every beast is blessed,

adorned in their own regalia.

Mercy, now,

on all animalia. 


Take no tooth or tusk, steal no
heart, hair, or husk. 

Et expecto…

No shark robbed of its fin, no mink
denied its skin

resurrectionem mortuorum
et vitam venturi saeculi…

No bath in bowls of salted blood

And I await the life of the world to come…

no cove for corpse, no reddened veldt.


A flora fashioned, valued, known

to heal the mind and mend the bone.

We believe in all who are at risk.

We believe in all who are voiceless.

We believe in all who are helpless. 

We believe in all who are at risk. 


Lay down the spear, lay down the hook, 

lay down the gun, the knife, the net. 

No majesty in poison. No virtue in
the snare. No salvation in a strangled spirit.

We believe in songs at daybreak,
cries and calls at dusk.

In quell and coo, drone and hum,

in hovel, hollow, river, pond. 


We believe in listen. We believe

in wish. And to be worthy of

their gift: this chance to look

within ourselves and change how

we have lived, to change

how we have lived.


We believe in all who are offset. 

We believe in all who are outcast. 

We believe in all who are voiceless.

We believe in all who are stranded. 

We believe in all who are stalwart. 

We believe in all who are fearless.

Expecto vitam venturi saeculi …

We believe in all who are dauntless. 

And I await the life of the world to come…


We believe in all offset, outcast, voiceless,
stranded, stalwart, fearless, dauntless,


We believe in all who are silenced. 

We believe in all silenced.

We believe in all who are promised. 

We believe in all promised.

And I await…


— Nathaniel Bellows

5. Sanctus/Benedictus


Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,

Domine Deus Sabaoth.

Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua.

Osanna in excelsis.


Benedictus qui venit

in nomine Domini.

Osanna in excelsis.

6. Agnus Dei


Agnus Dei, 

qui tollis peccata mundi


Lamb of God,

of longing, loss,

have mercy on us.

Accept, embrace

these sins—release

the callous,

the conquering,

replace this

hardened wrath,

with calm.


Lamb of God,

in calling, call,

grant them peace.

The deepest sleep

of safety, the unencumbered

yawn. To bathe and breed

with no threat or risk—

trade our sins,

our trespasses,

for bliss. 


Let, allow, admit, accord:

The slumbering of gods

The wandering unbound

The hunted hunting whole

The grazing under moon

The breathing boundless breath

The freedom found in self

The feeling life is whole

The meaning known, unknown

Lamb of God,

of goodness, gold,

share your mercy.

Enslaved by sordid

time—the inward-turning

eye, in scarcity, with

lie. They who take our

basest acts—Lamb of

God—no punishment

no cruel attack.


They who rise from

all we lack—Lamb of

God—give wonder, wish,

give kindness back.


Agnus Dei


— Nathaniel Bellows

Sarah Kirkland Snider on Collaborating with Video Designer Deborah Johnson / CandyStations on "Mass for the Endangered" --Nonesuch Records Journal


Recently called a “significant voice on the American music landscape” by the Philadelphia Inquirer and “an important representative of twenty-first century trends in composition” by New York Classical Review, composer Sarah Kirkland Snider writes music of direct expression and vivid narrative that has been hailed as “rapturous” by the New York Times, “groundbreaking” by the Boston Globe, and “poignant, deeply personal” by the New Yorker. With an ear for the poetic and the architectural, Snider’s music draws upon a variety of influences to render a nuanced command of immersive storytelling.


Photo by Willamain Somma


Sarah Kirkland Snider, composer

Recently deemed one of the "Top 35 Female Composers in Classical Music" (The Washington Post), composer Sarah Kirkland Snider writes music of direct expression and vivid narrative that has been hailed as “rapturous” (The New York Times), “groundbreaking” (The Boston Globe), and “poignant, deeply personal” (The New Yorker).

Her works have been commissioned and/or performed by the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Birmingham Royal Ballet, eighth blackbird, The Knights, Roomful of Teeth, Deutsche Grammophon for mezzo Emily D’Angelo, percussionist Colin Currie, and tenor Nicholas Phan, among others. Upcoming projects include the world premiere of Forward Into Light, an orchestral commission inspired by the American women’s suffrage movement for the New York Philharmonic, and an opera on 12th-century visionary/saint/composer Hildegard von Bingen, commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects.

Penelope and Unremembered, her first two LP song cycles, earned critical acclaim from NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, and Pitchfork, among others. In fall 2020, Nonesuch and New Amsterdam Records released Snider’s third LP: Mass for the Endangered, a 2018 work for chorus and ensemble performed by English vocal ensemble Gallicantus, to wide critical acclaim. In naming the album to its Best of 2020 list, NPR proclaimed: “Snider must be recognized as one of today's most compelling composers for the human voice." Her music is published by G. Schirmer, Inc.

Nathaniel Bellows, text
is a writer, visual artist, and singer-songwriter, based in New York City. He is the author of two novels—On This Day and Nan—and a collection of poetry, Why Speak?. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, The Paris Review, The New Republic, THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES, American Poetry Review, The Yale Review, and many other magazines, periodicals, and websites. He has performed his music in the US and abroad, and is a graduate of Middlebury College (BA) and Columbia University (MFA).


Deborah Johnson, visual artist

Deborah Johnson, aka CandyStations, is an interdisciplinary artist and designer specializing in stage design and performance visuals. She has worked with artists including Sufjan Stevens, M83, Sofi Tukker, St. Vincent, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Annie B. Parson, Ray LaMontagne, Kronos Quartet, Alarm Will Sound, Bang On A Can, and Wilco, with performances at Coachella, Disney Concert Hall, Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Museum of Modern Art, MASS MoCA, Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden, The Fillmore and Wiener Konzerthaus. She has also created site-specific performances and installations at SXSW, Sundance, Brooklyn Academy of Music, 92Y Tribeca, MoMA, Chicago’s Millennium Park, and the Baltimore Museum of Art, and completed residencies at MASS MoCA, The Experimental Television Center, and The Atlantic Center for the Arts.


Originally commissioned by Trinity Church Wall Street, this recording features the English vocal ensemble Gallicantus conducted by Gabriel Crouch.

Purchase "Mass for the Endangered" at Nonesuch Records and other stores