One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A mass said for the soul of a dead person. Compare "requiem". Now historical.
Middle English; earliest use found in St. Thomas Becket. From soul + mass. Compare Middle Dutch sielmisse, zielmisse (Dutch zielmis), Middle Low German sēlmisse, sēlemisse, Middle High German sēlmësse (German Seelenmesse), Old Icelandic sálumessa, Old Swedish siälamässa (Swedish själamässa), Old Danish, Danish sjaelemesse.
soul mass/ˈsəʊl mas/
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