Saturday, June 28, 2014


The Ordinary Form Requiem  Mass with its propers needs very little reform. The greater problem are the choices that are made for music that substitute for the propers. This is the greatest need for reform, the mandate that the propers, especially the Introit be chanted (and in the Ordinary Form there are a couple of good options in this regard).

The other area is the issue of eulogies allowed after Holy Communion. I propose these be banned and allowed only at the Vigil of the Deceased following that Vigil or prior to the Vigil itself. The laity can do whatever they wish at the Wake, before or after the Vigil for the Deceased.

The two biggest problem areas have to do with the type of music selected for funerals which substitute the chants of the Mass and eulogies. These can easily be resolved on the local level and universally by mandate to simply do the Funeral Mass without these substitutions and eulogies.

But apart from these two issues, there is a problem with the actual reform of the Requiem Mass and returning to the EF's Requiem as a template would solve the problems and very easily.

This is what I would propose:

I. The Alleluia not be chanted in any Requiem Mass  as the Gospel Acclamation, rather the traditional Tract should be an option or the Lenten Gospel Acclamations. There should not be alleluias at Requiems, period.

II. The second reading after the Responsorial Psalm should be eliminated and the Sequence, Dies Irae, should be restored to its traditional place in the Requiem. 

III. Incense is only to be used at the Offertory and then again at the Final Commendation

IV. The Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) should be restored to its EF Requiem's form with "...grant them, rest; ...grant them rest; ...grant them eternal rest,  rather than "...have mercy on us; ...have mercy on us, ...grant us peace."

Finally, the revised Final Commendation should only use the chants that are in the funeral ritual and no other music as substitutes. The recessional should always be "May the Angels Lead you into Paradise" without substitution.

This is the proposed order of a Requiem in the Ordinary Form:

I. The priest and ministers process to instrumental music to the entrance of the Church where the Family awaits with the remains of the faithful departed. There he begins with the Sign of the Cross, greeting and sprinkling with Holy Water of the remains and covering with pall using the words prescribed in the ritual.

II. Afterwards the procession to the altar is accompanied by the chanting of the official Introit with verses to cover the complete procession and entry of the family into their pews.

III. Once the Introit is completed and the priest as reverenced the altar and gone to his chair, the Kyrie is chanted followed by the Collect. 

IV. All are seated for the First Reading followed by the Responsorial Psalm or Gradual, then the Lenten Gospel Acclamation or EF Tract followed by the Sequence and the Reading of the Gospel, without lights or incense. 

V. Following the homily is the Offertory without presentation of gifts. Incense is used as the Offertory Chant is chanted.

VI. The "Sign of Peace" is eliminated and the  Lamb of God is the EF's version for Requiems.

VII. The official Communion antiphon with verses is chanted for Holy Communion.

VIII. Following the Post Communion Prayer, the chant choices prescribed in the Funeral Ritual are chanted as the remains are incensed and sprinkled with Holy Water. Following the Prayer and dismissal, "May the Angels..." is chanted as the ministers depart and the remains and family join in the recessional. 

My final comment: This would entail almost no official tinkering except for mandating the propers, removing alleluias, restoring the Tract or Lenten Gospel Acclamation and Dies Irae as well as the EF's Requiem's Agnus Dei.


John Nolan said...

Father, everything you propose is already an option in the Novus Ordo. The reception of the body into the church normally takes place the evening before.

Technically the bishops could remove the other options, but for 'pastoral reasons' they would never do so. In some places they have acted to ban recorded music and restrict eulogies, but that's as far as they'll go.

Richard M. Sawicki said...

..."IV. The Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) should be restored to its EF Requiem's form with "...grant them, rest; ...grant them rest; ...grant them eternal rest, rather than "...have mercy on us; ...have mercy on us, ...grant us peace."

I was under the impression that this is already the ACTUAL rubric for an Ordinary Form Requiem, but like so many other rubrics, is simply ignored by most modern Catholics.

Indeed, I have attended two funeral masses within the last year at a very conservative/traditional leaning parish where I was surprised that I was the ONLY member of the congregation chanting "dona eis requiem (sempeternam!)" during the Agnus Dei.

Perhaps I've been wrong on that, but in any case I believe the proposals listed should be adopted immediately and without debate.

Gaudete in Domino Semper!

Anonymous said...

The Ordinary Form of the Mass of the Roman Rite would be perfectly fine if priests actually celebrated it by following the GIRM. Just stop the sloppiness, the lack of piety and reverence and the general silliness that has marred the true Mass of Paul VI.

Many of the outward signs of reverence that were cavalierly abolished should be restored. But most importantly the need for SILENCE. For god sake can't the pope address the circus like atmosphere that takes place before and after 99.99999999% of Masses worldwide. Why do Catholics have to be so loud and disrespectful inside Church. It seems like they almost go out of their way to see who can be the most irreverent.

JBS said...

This is an interesting proposal, to which John Nolan provides a fine response. I will only add the following observations concerning my own practice on these important occasions:

I personally have never used a second reading at a funeral Mass.

I only use incense at the Commendation, although I would have no objection to using it at the Offertory, given the obvious connection between the two.

I don't use the Sign of Peace unless the church is filled with practicing Catholics. There does seem to be some value in the celebrant offering the Sign of Peace to the principal mourners.

On a related note, I always sing the Our Father in order to prevent our Protestant Brethren from awkwardly adding their extra bits to it.

WSquared said...

Fr. McDonald, can the Propers be spoken if there's nobody there who can chant them?

I know it wouldn't be ideal, but it would still be better to hear those texts, even if only spoken, as opposed to none at all and replaced by the likes of "On Eagle's Wings," wouldn't it?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, we speak them (the congregation) at our daily Mass. These could easily be said at a Requiem Mass by the priest, but certainly not ideal.

DrAndroSF said...

I am in the process of choosing readings and music for my mother's funeral. Given the choices provided to me by the parish, I am filled with a sense of loss and frustration.

I am old enough to have been an altar boy in the 50's and so knew the old Requiem Mass very well. It was not perfect, but it was not trite, tawdry, sentimental, Protestant or beige. That is most of what I am confronted with now.

The woman in charge of singing --her solo voice and guitar are the only options offered-- is very sweet, but when I asked for traditional Catholic music for my traditional Catholic mother, she brightly suggested songs by the St Louis Jesuits...She has no clue.

To see a great tradition tattered and in ruins is painful. I will do the best I can and then grit my teeth.

George said...

The Immaculate Heart

The Heart of Mary is the center and source of her love for God. The Blessed Virgin was, by the grace and gift of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, conceived undefiled by sin. From her heart springs a purity of love for God that surpasses that which can come from any other human being. St. Augustine said that “Mary first conceived in her heart by faith and then in Her womb” ( Sermon 293). Just as Mary was Immaculate in her womb where the Son of God was conceived, so it is right and proper that her heart where Christ was first conceived is referred to as the Immaculate Heart.
The overflowing fullness and purity of Love for God which pours forth form the Immaculate Heart is available to make up for what is lacking in our own response to Divine Love. With her love for the Divine Trinity, Mary brings her maternal solicitude and compassion to God on our behalf.

John Nolan said...


The 'dona eis requiem' form of the Agnus Dei was not carried over into the Novus Ordo. It is not in the 1974 Graduale. Presumably it was seen as a late addition. However, in my experience it is usually used when the traditional Latin chants are used, for the simple reason that it is, well, traditional.

Richard M. Sawicki said...

..."The 'dona eis requiem' form of the Agnus Dei was not carried over into the Novus Ordo. It is not in the 1974 Graduale. Presumably it was seen as a late addition. However, in my experience it is usually used when the traditional Latin chants are used, for the simple reason that it is, well, traditional. "

Thank you John Nolan for clarifying that. You are obviously right about the practice of using "Dona eis requiem" at Masses where the traditional Latin chants are being used. At my own parish it was de rigueur for years.

I should point out that during those years it was due to the great influence of our then-organist and then-cantor (who were Presbyterian and Jewish respectively!) that traditional Catholic liturgical music and hymnody was present at all. Despite neither being Catholic, it was their belief that as the liturgical musicians in a Catholic parish, they should be providing music that was...well...Catholic! They were a great team and I miss them both. Now we have their successors, who are both actually Catholics, and we've been reduced to O.C.P. junk, Dan Schutte Masses, and other assorted "music".

Gaudete in Domino Semper!

Pater Ignotus said...

DrAndro - The Church offers many many choices for readings from Scripture for funerals. It is unfortunate that some misbegotten priests or liturgy planners restrict these choices.

And you are not like ted to the suggested choices. Almost any portion of the Scriptures can be used at funeral masses.

Joe Potillor said...

I would say that the Roman tradition of not using the Alleluia in the funeral Liturgy should be maintained. (In the East, we have the Alleluia, but the tone is very subdued giving a clear indication of what is taking place)

Ted K said...

Much of what you say is good. However, I do have a problem with the beginning. I would borrow many elements from the EF for this, since the Mass is for the deceased, while mourning with the close ones.
There should be no music at all at the beginning. The church should be silent. At the appropriate time, the priest and ministers go in silence to the door of the church to meet the corpse. While sprinkling the casket with holy water, the priest in a low but audible voice recites Ps 129, De profundis....and ends with a Requiem aeternam...
When finished, the priest intones "Exultabunt Domino" and the choir immediately begins to chant Ps 50 Miserere mei Deus... and the procession towards the altar begins.
As soon as the priest enters the sanctuary, the choir terminates the psalm with a Requiem aeternam (NOT a Gloria Patri..), and the Introit begins.
It is desirable for the priest to have been wearing a (black) cope which he procedes to exchange for a chasuble. The change in vestments illustrates symbolically the difference between the world of the sacred, and the world of the profane. The sacred prayers at the foot of the altar then begin.