The Margil Mass


Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, composer Ronnie Sanders remembers the five beautiful, historic missions in San Antonio as a natural part of his heritage, upbringing and culture.

On June 9, 2010, he once again toured the San Jose Mission, where he saw an exhibit displaying some of the history of the founding priest, Father Antonio Margil (1657-1726).  Sanders saw Margil’s clerical garments and book of prayers containing scripture verses and prayers in Latin that Father Margil used in the mission almost 300 years ago.

Once inside the chapel, Sanders commented on his reflections. “I began singing some chant-like music.  Each note seemed to reverberate and echo inside this room.”  Sanders marveled at the chapel’s “gorgeous, cathedral-like acoustics.”  It was at that moment he became inspired to compose a work that would honor this historic chapel and its founder, Father Antonio Margil.

Moved and motivated, Sanders returned to the exhibit and wrote down some scripture verses and prayers from Father Margil’s very own book of prayers that comprise the text of this new work.  Sanders’ Margil Mass was written during the week of June 20 – 25, 2010.

The work is in five movements, each about 5-6 minutes in length, and is scored for unaccompanied choir.  Each of the five movements may be performed separately or together in a choral-concert session, or it may be used in a church service.  The premiere of this work will be performed by the choral artists of Bel Cantare in San Antonio, Texas on February 27, 2011.  The concert will be conducted by the composer.  The vocal ensemble Bel Cantare was formed in order to present the Margil Mass.  For more information, please visit  Sanders’ complete bio may be found at  For more information about the San Antonio missions, please visit the mission’s website:

This post provided courtesy of guest blogger Nancy Scarsdale, a freelance writer from Texas and member of the Board of Directors for the Choral Ensemble Bel Cantare, San Antonio, Texas.


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