The Cochran Mass
The Divine Service
The Cochran Mass is a service music setting based on Negro Spirituals written by the Rev. Arthur Myron Cochran, rector of Saint Ambrose from 1920-1927.
This service music is a Mass setting based on Negro Spirituals written in 1925 by the Reverend Arthur Myron Cochran, Saint Ambrose’s third rector. Many historians see Fr. Cochran’s arrangement of the Mass setting as igniting the effort to revitalize and rejuvenate the worship experience. Fr. Cochran composed the Mass based on the 1892 Book of Common Prayer.
The Reverend Arthur Myron Cochran was born in Charleston, SC on September 27, 1878. He graduated Fisk University in 1901 with a degree in music and later studied at New York University, NYC. After college, he served as instructor and principal of the Episcopal Church School in Raleigh from 1901 to 1917. He served as principal of the Episcopal School in Vicksburg, MS for one year in 1918. He was ordained deacon by Bishop Cheshire in 1918 and served as curate and organist at Saint Simon of Cyrene Episcopal Church, Philadelphia, PA for two years before being ordained priest by Bishop Delany in 1920. He became rector of Saint Ambrose, Raleigh that same year. He also served as Director of Music at Saint Augustine’s University. He served both communities from 1920-1928 before becoming vicar of Holy Trinity Church, Nashville, TN, where he also taught at Fisk University, his alma mater. He served Holy Trinity from 1928-1943 before becoming vicar of Meade Memorial Chapel in Alexandria, VA until his retirement in 1951. He died on January 12, 1956.
Regarding the Cochran Mass for the Holy Eucharist, Rite II Service
When Fr. Arthur Myron Cochran composed the Communion Office, he used the language of the Prayer Book of his day, the 1892 Book of Common Prayer. That liturgical language closely resembled the Rite I language of our current 1979 Book of Common Prayer. In January 2018, Saint Ambrose commissioned the Rev. William Bradley Roberts, D.M.A., Professor of Church Music at Virginia Theological Seminary and Director of Chapel Music, to take the spirit of the Cochran Mass and arrange it for language consistent with the Holy Eucharist, Rite II, in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The Rev. William Bradley Roberts finished this work on Holy Saturday, March 31, 2018.
The Rev. William Bradley Roberts, D.M.A., received the Bachelor of Arts degree from Houston Baptist University with double majors in Voice and Music Education. He received the degrees Master of Church Music and Doctor of Musical Arts from Southern Seminary (Louisville, KY) with an emphasis in Conducting and Voice.
Roberts was ordained to the priesthood in May 2016. Prior to his coming to Virginia Seminary, he was an Episcopal church musician for thirty-three years, the most recent position being St. John’s, Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C. Before coming to St. John’s, he held similar posts in Tucson, Arizona; Newport Beach, California; Louisville, Kentucky; and Houston, Texas.
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