First Congregational Church invites visitors to their annual Lenten Music Service on Sunday, March 18, at 10:00 a.m. for a stirring performance of Franz Joseph Haydn’s “Lord Nelson Mass” in the sanctuary at 125 Elmer Street in Westfield.

This famous work will feature noted operatic soloists Meredith Hoffmann-Thomson, soprano; Kathryn Krasovec, mezzo-soprano; Ronald Naldi, tenor; and Arthur Woodley, baritone; with musical accompaniment on trumpets, timpani and organ.

Haydn was a prolific composer, writing primarily for his patrons, the powerful Princes of Esterházy. The most popular of Haydn’s masses, the “Lord Nelson Mass” is one of six masses written to commemorate the name-day of Prince Nikolaus II’s wife, Princess Maria Hermenegild. 

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Subtitled “Missa in Augustiis,” or “Mass in Troubled Times,” this third mass was composed in 1798, when Europe was in the throes of war with Napoleon, and the political climate was very unsettled.

The “Lord Nelson Mass” got its nickname when Nelson, shortly after his stunning victory over Napoleon at the Battle of the Nile, attended a performance of the work as a guest at the Prince’s estate. It was immediately praised by the British naval hero and has been an important part of the choral repertoire ever since.

This performance will be directed from the organ by the church’s Music Director, Dr. Barbara Thomson.  For additional information, please contact the church office at 908-233-2494 or visit www.fccofwestfield.org.