This fifteen-minute cyclical mass uses excerpts from the text of the Mass Ordinary and is laid out into five movements and across three different languages: Kyrie (Latin), Gloria (Chinese), Credo (English), Sanctus (Chinese), and Agnus Dei (Latin). Rather than following the tradition of celebrating devotion, this mass tells the story of the abuse of power in political and religious leadership. Movements sung in Latin represent the devout Christian base whose motives and inspiration remain pure and divine. The English movement, Credo, has been altered from the original and represents the manipulation and distortion of scripture, truth, and facts by self-serving leaders and politicians. Finally, Chinese movements represent those who are persecuted for their convictions and their identity.
The turmoil of the Chinese movements is characterized by atonality and fast tempos with contrasting, meditative, lyrical B sections. The outer Latin movements contain the familiar Kyrie and Agnus Dei texts in triple canon with the orchestra. The English middle movement is simultaneously familiar and awkward, with harmonies that almost function, under an altered Credo text. After an aria-like passage, the orchestra takes the “I believe” figure and manipulates it in a modal fugato, culminating in a climactic version of the main motive. A repeated double-dotted quarter note—sixteenth-note rhythm followed by a fast tremolo in the castanets make up the central “bangu motive.” This motive is derived from traditional Beijing Opera, in which the bangu is the principal percussion element. As a rhythmic motive, fragments of it appear in every movement and in several different instrument groups. These fragments undergo various transformations before a version of it arrives as the final Agnus Dei rhythmic figure.