“The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace,” as performed at Merrill Auditorium on Friday evening by The Choral Art Society and Portland Ballet Company with members of Portland Symphony Orchestra, was a feast for the senses, with rich musical texture made hypnotically visual in choreography by PBC associate artistic director Nell Shipman.

The music, by Welsh composer Karl Jenkins, was commissioned in 2000 by Britain’s Royal Armouries Museum in honor of the millennium and dedicated to the victims of the war in Kosovo. The choreography was highly abstract, but with representations of inner conflict, physical conflict and the struggle between life and death.

Jenkins’ composition interweaves a wide variety of source material – from the 15th-century fight song, “L’homme Arme” to biblical and religious texts, 20th-century poetry and “Now the Guns Have Stopped” by Guy Wilson, Master of the Royal Armouries – into a cohesive, often very moving whole.

Likewise, Shipman’s choreography spoke from a vast dance vocabulary. In creating the movement, she clearly absorbed the score until it was second nature, so that the dance resonated as an extension of the music. In one moment executing a relatively classical lift, in the next a totally original series of arm movements, the dancers performed with strength, precision and passion.

Under the direction of the renowned Robert Russell, the choir performed, for the most part, with similar precision, with each section often singing as one voice. The dancers, too, achieved a striking level of unison, especially considering that so much of the music to which they were dancing was minimalistic or minimally rhythmic, including a cappella chant.

Jennifer Brewer is a freelance writer who lives in Saco.