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This stunning new Mass setting was composed by a self-taught priest

J-P Mauro - published on 02/01/21

Father Thomas de Beyer composed the impressive "Missa Lucis" with no formal musical training.

German Catholic priest Thomas de Beyer has composed a breathtaking new Mass setting, “Missa Lucis.” The work is one of the finest contemporary liturgical compositions we’ve heard in the last decade. What makes it all the more impressive is that Fr. de Beyer completed the work with no formal musical training. 

Fr. de Beyer told Aleteia that his musical inclinations developed at an early age. Despite only taking piano lessons for one year as a child, he never relinquished his love for music. What began as improvisational meanderings on a piano turned into a self-guided study of music. He developed his ear for songwriting by analyzing the songs he liked. This study covered a wide array of music from priest-composer Marco Frisina to pop sensation Bruno Mars.

In the “Missa Lucis” press release, he commented:

“Little by little, songs came to life, quite simple ones at first. In the course of time, however, they became more symphonious. As I grew older I understood that composing means listening rather than producing sounds. There lies a deep fascination in listening creatively, and in my opinion, music is a huge chance to touch people with the Christian message, the message of God.”

Now, the inspired melodies of “Missa Lucis” stand as a testament to Fr. de Beyer’s faith, as well as the value of dedicated personal study. The piece only runs for about 10 minutes, but there is a lot of music in “Missa Lucis.” Five movements present the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, and Ave Maria in grand style, with a full scale orchestra and choir.

Music meant to be

“Missa Lucis” was a project six years in the making. Father Thomas explained that he developed the melodies in 2015, while serving as a chaplain in Cottbus. By chance, he met German opera star Marlene Lichtenberg, who listened through his preliminary song ideas and encouraged him to proceed. From there, the pieces just began to fall into place. He said:

“Following an intuition, I went to a church with perpetual Eucharistic adoration in Berlin, St. Clement. At the entrance of the parish center I met a voluntary coworker named Susanna. I asked her, if she knew an arranger … Five minutes later I had the contact of the astrophysicist Dr. Ondrej Jaura, who later agreed to develop the arrangement.”

Dr. Jaura’s arrangement could not have been a better fit for the “Missa Lucis.” His expansive chords in the choir bring a special excitement to the work. The final piece of the musical puzzele was securing internationally renowned conductor Dr. Anna Szostak. De Beyer said that having her for the realization of this project was “like a dream coming true.”

Of the “Missa Lucis” as a whole, de Beyer said:

“‘Missa Lucis’ means Mass of the Light. Christ himself says: ‘I am the Light of the World’ (John 8:12). And he is present in the holy Eucharist, sharing with us heavenly grace by the power of his cross and resurrection. If our music will give our listeners a glimpse of the beauty and sacredness of catholic liturgy, our mission would be accomplished.”

While “Missa Lucis” is the grandest piece under Fr. de Beyer’s belt, it is not his first foray into the music scene. In 2020, de Beyer also wrote “Welcome On Earth,” a pro-life anthem for the March for Life in Berlin. Released in July 2020, the song featured blind Croatian singer Bernarda Brunovic, who sang over the disco-style backtrack.

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