(with thanks to Pat Gritton, Chris Campbell and Robbie Dempsey)

This is a rare recording of the Missa Luba, performed by the Muungano National Choir of Kenya.
You may be able to acquire an original copy via the internet — if so, please let us know your source.
The extracts below are taken from the cassette tape version and provide a useful background to the recording.

Click here to see the 12inch vinyl version

Click on the music title to hear the track

This number starts with a shaken gourd followed by drums. The three tenor voices enter on the third beat of the fourth bar, the response being provided by the chorus of men and women. This style of "call and response" continues for 29 bars before the tenor solo voices lead to the chorus, with a group of women calling and being responded to by the rest of the group. After some singing, the tenor solo voices join the chorus, when they all sing a short repeated passage before continuing to the end.

Gloria (3.6mb)
In the same style as the Kyrie, the opening again introduces the gourd followed by the drums, before the tenor solo voices enter on "Et in terra pax hominibus." They are joined by men before women take over for a short while. The tenor sol voices take over on "Gratias agimus tibi" ; this is followed by a beautiful humming from the chorus, than a return to normal singing. The movement is dominated by triplets and other rhythmic motives sung by the tenor solo voices against the main beat in the accompaniment and responding voices.


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The opening style of gourd shaking followed by the drums has not changed but this time the introduction is longer than in previous movements. The rhythm of the gourd continues for a long time, as in the Kyrie. The tenor solo voices continue with triplets, occasionally heard also in the women's parts. The men and women sing softly on the vowel sound "ou", after which the percussions improvises in idiomatic style. This is followed by the tenor voices with "Crucifixus" and very softly the basses accompany on the vowel sound "ou" while the percussion is silent. The percussion players are again heard on their own. Then the women, in their highest register and unaccompanied, sing the "Et ressurexit." The tenor voices respond, accompanied by the gourd. After a long sustained note and a rest, the chorus comes in with the rest of the percussion section. After some questions and answers, the tenor solo voices and women sing together and the basses continue with their very softly sun "ou" to the end, while the rest of the chorus sing a final "Amen."

Agnus dei
The movement opens with gourd shaking followed by two drums playing on alternate beats. After a lengthy introduction the tenor solo voices enter, followed, after an extended section, by the mixed chorus. The men's music is characterised by longer notes.

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This is beautiful, slow and stately. The women sing the first "Sanctus" and are then joined by the men. The section from "Sanctus" to "Sabaoth" is repeated. After the last "gloria tua" the tempo becomes more lively, the drums enter and the women sing "Hosanna." This section is loud and after a repeat the women sing a very high note. The slow and stately section is resumed at the Benedictus. The music builds up to a lively climax, all the voices singing, with the women ending on the high note heard previously.

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(source : Robbie Dempsey

BL7592 Philips


The Missa Luba is pure Congolese. It is completely void of any modern western musical influences. The 'Kyrie, Gloria' and 'Credo' are performed within the same framework as a kasala, which is existent today among the Ngandanjika (Kasai). The 'Sanctus' and 'Gloria' are fashioned somewhat after the feeling of a wonderful "Song of Farewell" in Kiluba. An authentic dance rhythm of the Kasai is the basis of the 'Hosanna', while the 'Agnus Dei' is based on a song of Bena Lulua (Luluabourg). Most remarkable is the fact that none of the Missa Luba is written. Certain rhythms, harmonies and embellishments are spontaneous improvisations.

Father Guido Haazen, a Belgian priest, recognizing the value to be gained from the retention of this music form, assigned himself the task of restoring it to health. He formed Les Troubadours du Roi Baudouin, a choir, with percussion section, consisting of about 45 boys from 9 to 14 years old, and 15 teachers from the Kamina School. In 1958, the Choir made a six months European Tour, performing to receptive audiences in Belgium, Holland and Germany.

Father Haazen is one of those rare men of God who, as a missionary, went to the Congo equipped with more than just a Book. The young singers, whom he has guided, are uniquely themselves: artists of the Congo. Truly, their's is a religious performance, not just a "Christian" one.

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