This must be one of the most extraordinary and beautiful pieces of choral music ever written. It stands so much alone and complete that words are superfluous. While it was written in the magically creative year 1922, the composer did not release it for performance until 1963, and it is recognized as a profound expression of Martin's religious faith.
This over-used phrase does little justice, however, to what Martin has achieved. He has used all the resonant acoustics which a church can offer and all the tension generated by the close-moving dissonance and resolution of a complex arrangement for five small sets of a capella male voices. The result is something wonderful - a combination of form and environment creating a work of art complete in itself. It becomes an expression of something almost solid, quite separate from either its components or its performance, yet dependent on both. The piece requires the chorus to have control over extreme nuances of pitch and dynamics and over the issue of sound so that every silence - between the sections of the mass, between the musical phrases, sometimes between two chords - becomes a physical and integral part of the whole. This can only happen when the pauses are perfectly defined, by a choir which is perfectly in time and perfectly in unison.
Listen to it - then listen to it again and again. A quite exceptional performance of an astonishing musical achievement.