The Missa brevis, commissioned for the choir of Coventry Cathedral, dates from 1965. The composer described it as ‘very brevis’, and indeed it is a notably compact work, expressly designed for liturgical use. The setting is unaccompanied until the Gloria, which comes last in the pattern of the Book of Common Prayer. The first three movements are rather austere in feel, but the Benedictus opens up at ‘Hosanna in the highest’ into a more opulent style. The Gloria starts with a quintessentially Waltonian burst of energy as the organ makes its surprise first appearance. There is an expressive treble solo in the centre before the closing choral section ‘For thou only art Holy’.
from notes by James O'Donnell © 2008