"Most of Victoria's masses are parodies, that is, they are composed in imitation of a motet -- in Victoria's case, most often a motet of his own composition," Dr. Mahrt says.
"This Mass, however, is based directly upon a Gregorian chant, the Marian hymn 'Ave maris stella'. Its unique melodic beginning is apparently one reason for Victoria's choice; it begins by rising a fifth, D-A, and proceeds upward through B-natural, contrary to strong conventional expectations of placing a B-flat above the fifth, a striking variation on the usual figures of the Dorian mode. This surprising melodic turn emphasizes the high pitch to which the melody rises, representing the location of a star, since the text names the Virgin Mary the star of the sea.
"Victoria's Mass is in a typical late Renaissance imitative style, one which paraphrases the memorable chant in all the voices. Yet, there is an older technique apparent beneath the surface -- cantus firmus. At times in the paraphrase, the melody appears in longer notes, allowing a little phrase of the original chant to step out in front of the other voices. Thus, the texture of the work is more varied and interesting than in a parody Mass. This, combined with the alluring melodic turns of the original melody, make the Mass one that will be a particular pleasure to sing."