Recently I had the rare and happy opportunity to go to the symphony when someone had an extra, unused ticket. That night the orchestra and chorus performed Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, K. 427.
Mozart never finished this particular composition. He wrote parts for the Kyrie Eleison, the Gloria, the Credo up to the “Incarnatus” (“and was made flesh by the Holy Ghost from the Virgin Mary, and was made human), and, finally, the Sanctus. The Credo was never finished and the Angus Dei was not written at all. It was in this state when it was first performed and never progressed beyond that.
Apparently Mozart had promised his wife to write a mass celebrating their marriage after one year…and apparently there were no financial backers paying him to do this. Maybe he lost interest. Maybe he had “writer’s block.” Maybe he needed to earn a living more than he needed to keep that promise. We’ll never know.
What I found interesting – no, moving and inspiring – was that the Credo ends with Christ’s Incarnation and birth by the Virgin Mary, and the very next piece we hear is “Holy! Holy! Holy! Lord God of Hosts!” –words that reminded me of those the angels in the heavens were singing the night Jesus was born as they announced the news to the shepherds. What a remarkable coincidence, that one piece cuts off in such an appropriate spot for the next!
Sometimes we “give it our best shot” but fall far short of that for which we had hoped. Mozart’s unfinished Mass in C Minor reminds me that my purpose and the purpose of my actions are for God to define. It’s not so much what I have accomplished or done, so much as what God can do with it.
Photo by Sister Ann Marie Wainright
Sister Ann Marie Wainright
Sister Ann Marie Wainright is a Benedictine Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, she worked as a CPA for many years before earning dual masters degrees in counseling and pastoral studies. Sister Ann Marie is interested how people encounter God in their daily lives and how they use their faith and spirituality in meeting difficult challenges.