The Armed Man

The Armed Man

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The Armed Man

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The Armed Man is a Mass by Welsh composer Karl Jenkins, subtitled "A Mass for Peace". The piece was commissioned by the Royal Armouries Museum for the Millennium celebrations, and to mark the museum's move from London to Leeds, and it was dedicated to victims of the Kosovo crisis. Like Benjamin Britten's War Requiem before it, it is essentially an anti-war piece and is based on the Catholic Mass, which Jenkins combines with other sources, principally the fifteenth century folk song L'homme armé in the first and last movements. It was written for SATB chorus with soloists (soprano and Muezzin) and a symphonic orchestra. Guy Wilson, then master of the museum, selected the texts for the mass.

Overview

In addition to extracts from the Ordinary of the Mass, the text incorporates words from other religious and historical sources, including the Islamic call to prayer, the Bible (e.g. the Psalms and Revelation), and the Mahabharata. Writers whose words appear in the work include Rudyard Kipling, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Sankichi Toge, who survived the Hiroshima bombing but died some years later of leukaemia.

The Armed Man charts the growing menace of a descent into war, interspersed with moments of reflection; shows the horrors that war brings; and ends with the hope for peace in a new millennium, when "sorrow, pain and death can be overcome". ...
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