|Original part from Machaut's|
Messe de Nostre Dame.
Part of the reason for the historical significance of the Mass Ordinary is its long standing existence as a musical form. The oldest extant mass setting with verifiable authorship is the Messe de Nostre Dame composed by Guillaume de Machaut in the 14th century. Since then the Mass Ordinary has been set by composers of every era, making it possible to trace musical developments in counterpoint, harmony, motivic unity, word painting and other elements of composition.
Settings of the Mass Ordinary are also historically significant because of the possibilities they presented to composers. The Mass Ordinary plays a central role in the church service and it is of considerable length, factors making it appropriate for large scale musical settings. In addition, the fixed yet contrasting nature of its texts invite expressiveness and variation in interpretation. When composers sat down to set the Mass Ordinary, they certainly brought their A-game.
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