Saturday, October 16, 2010


UPDATES WITH VERDI'S DIES IRAE WHICH YOU CAN LISTEN. IT IS MAGNIFICENT, BUT TOO DIFFICULT I WOULD SAY TO SING AT A NORMAL PARISH REQUIEM! So I've included the Gregorian chanted version which is the one that should be sung in a liturgical setting.

The Requiem Mass revised after the Second Vatican Council is a mere shadow of its former glory! I just heard and watched on the internet parts of a magnificent Requiem sung in the Pope Paul VI Hall at the Vatican today for Pope Benedict and hundreds of others. It was a concert Requiem, but the words of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form are truly sober, magnificent and awe inspiring. The current Mass of Christian Burial is banal, allows for too many options that eliminate the official prayers and chants. Today, our funeral Masses, in a nutshell, are a disaster including the sappy, saccharine music that we allow the grieving to select for themselves. Please look at the traditional Requiem Mass chant words below. They are magnificent. These should be mandated once again including the Dies Irae as the Sequence for the Mass!

Introit (Song at the Entrance or Processional Hymn) (Today many families choose "On Eagle's Wings" "Be Not Afraid" both of which are filled with touchy-feely sentimentality or they select some Easter Hymn which in no way actually prays for the faithful departed but rather implies canonization.)

Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Te decet hymnus Deus, in Sion,
et tibi reddetur votum in Ierusalem.
Exaudi orationem meam;
ad te omnis caro veniet.
Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
A hymn becomes you, O God, in Zion,
and to you shall a vow be repaid in Jerusalem.
Hear my prayer;
to you shall all flesh come.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.

Kyrie Eleison

Then the Kyrie as in the Ordinary of the Mass is chanted in the EF Requiem. Unbelievably, the Kyrie is omitted in the OF Requiem and for no good reason. You would think praying for God's mercy would be central to the Introductory Rite of a Requiem!:

Kyrie eleison;
Christe eleison;
Kyrie eleison

This is Greek (Κύριε ἐλέησον, Χριστὲ ἐλέησον, Κύριε ἐλέησον) Traditionally, each utterance is sung three times.

Gradual (chanted after the Epistle reading)

Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine :
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
In memoria æterna erit iustus,
ab auditione mala non timebit.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord :
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
He shall be justified in everlasting memory,
and shall not fear evil reports.

Tract (takes the place of the alleluia)

Absolve, Domine,
animas omnium fidelium defunctorum
ab omni vinculo delictorum
et gratia tua illis succurente
mereantur evadere iudicium ultionis,
et lucis æternae beatitudine perfrui.

Forgive, O Lord,
the souls of all the faithful departed
from all the chains of their sins
and by the aid to them of your grace
may they deserve to avoid the judgment of revenge,
and enjoy the blessedness of everlasting light.

The Dies Irae (sung after the tract, prior to chanting the Gospel)Post Vatican II Mass eliminated this and the requiem gradual and tract. The Introit may still be sung, but only as an option. Metrical hymns of a happy peppy type are more often chosen today. No one wants the Funeral Mass to make them feel sad. Shouldn't we call this attitude a denial of death and the grief that naturally follows such an event?

A sequence is a liturgical poem sung, when used, after the Tract (or Alleluia, if present). The sequence employed in the Requiem, Dies Irae, attributed to Thomas of Celano (c. 1200 – c. 1260–1270), has been called "the greatest of hymns", worthy of "supreme admiration".[3] The Latin text below is taken from the Requiem Mass in the 1962 Roman Missal.

Dies irae, dies illa
Solvet saeclum in favilla,
Teste David cum Sibylla.

Day of wrath, day that
will dissolve the world into burning coals,
as David bore witness with the Sibyl.

Quantus tremor est futurus,
Quando iudex est venturus
Cuncta stricte discussurus!

How great a tremor is to be,
when the judge is to come
briskly shattering every (grave).

Tuba mirum spargens sonum
Per sepulcra regionum,
Coget omnes ante thronum.

A trumpet sounding an astonishing sound
through the tombs of the region
drives all (men) before the throne.

Mors stupebit et natura,
Cum resurget creatura
Iudicanti responsura.

Death will be stunned and (so) will Nature,
when arises (man) the creature
responding to the One judging.

Liber scriptus proferetur,
In quo totum continetur
Unde mundus iudicetur.

The written book will be brought forth,
in which the whole (record of evidence) is contained
whence the world is to be judged.

Iudex ergo cum sedebit,
Quiqquid latet apparebit:
Nil inultum remanebit.

Therefore when the Judge shall sit,
whatever lay hidden will appear;
nothing unavenged will remain.

O tu, Deus maiestatis,
alme candor Trinitatis,
nos coniunge cum beatis.

O Thou, God of Majesty,
nourishing brilliance of the Trinity,
join us with the Blessed.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
Quem patronum rogaturus?
Cum vix iustus sit securus.

What am I the wretch then to say?
what patron I to beseech?
when scarcely the just (man) be secure.

Rex tremendae maiestatis,
Qui salvandos salvas gratis,
Salva me, fons pietatis.

King of tremendous Majesty,
who saves those-to-be-saved free,
save me, Fount of piety.

Recordare, Iesu pie,
Quod sum causa tuae viae:
Ne me perdas illa die.

Remember, faithful Jesus,
because I am the cause of your journey:
do not lose me on that day.

Quaerens me sedisti lassus:
redemisti crucem passus:
tantus labor non sit cassus.

Thou has sat down as one wearied seeking me,
Thou has redeemed (me) having suffered the Cross:
so much labor let it not be lost.

Iuste iudex ultionis,
donum fac remissionis,
ante diem rationis.

Just judge of the avenging-punishment,
work the gift of the remission (of sins)
before the Day of the Reckoning.

Ingemisco, tamquam reus:
culpa rubet vultus meus:
supplicanti parce Deus.

I groan, as the accused:
my face grows red from (my) fault:
spare (this) supplicant, O God.

O tu, Deus maiestatis,
alme candor Trinitatis,
nos coniunge cum beatis.

O Thou, God of Majesty,
nourishing brilliance of the Trinity,
join us with the Blessed.

Qui Mariam absolvisit
Et latronem exaudisti,
Mihi quoque spem dedisti.

Peccatricem qui solvisit
et latronem exaudisti,
mihi quoque spem dedisti.

Thou who forgave Mary [the sinful woman],
and favorably heard the (good) thief,
hast also given me hope.

Preces meae non sunt dignae:
Sed tu, bonus, fac benigne,
Ne perenni cremer igne.

My prayers are not worthy,
but do Thou, Good (God), deal kindly
lest I burn in perennial fire.

Inter oves locum praesta,
Et ab haedis me sequestra,
Statuens in parte dextra.

Among the sheep offer (me) a place
and from the goats sequester me,
placing (me) at (Thy) right hand.

Confutatis maledictis,
Flammis acribus addictis:
Voca me cum benedictis.

After the accursed have been silenced,
given up to the bitter flames,
call me with the blest.

Oro supplex et acclinis,
Cor contritum quasi cinis:
Gere curam mei finis.

Kneeling and bowed down I pray,
My heart contrite as ashes:
Do Thou {, my End,} care for my end.

Lacrimosa dies illa,
Qua resurget ex favilla
Judicandus homo reus:
Huic ergo parce, Deus.

That sorrowful day,
on which will arise from the buring coals
Man accused to be judged:
therefore, O God, do Thou spare him.

Pie Jesu Domine,
dona eis requiem.

Faithful Lord Jesus,
grant them rest.

O tu, Deus maiestatis,
alme candor Trinitatis,
nos coniunge cum beatis. Amen.

O Thou, God of Majesty,
nourishing brilliance of the Trinity,
join us with the Blessed. Amen.

Offertory (this is never done in the reformed rite, but rather a sappy, sentimental hymn is chosen or Ave Maria). Custom in the EF Mass could still allow for an additional anthem or motet at this point but never by eliminating the official Offertory Antiphon.

Domine Iesu Christe, Rex gloriæ,
libera animas omnium fidelium defunctorum
de pœnis inferni et de profundo lacu.
Libera eas de ore leonis,
ne absorbeat eas tartarus,
ne cadant in obscurum;
sed signifer sanctus Michæl
repræsentet eas in lucem sanctam,
quam olim Abrahæ promisisti et semini eius.

Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory,
free the souls of all the faithful departed
from infernal punishment and the deep pit.
Free them from the mouth of the lion;
do not let Tartarus swallow them,
nor let them fall into darkness;
but may the standard-bearer Saint Michael,
lead them into the holy light
which you once promised to Abraham and his seed.

Hostias et preces tibi, Domine,
laudis offerimus;
tu suscipe pro animabus illis,
quarum hodie memoriam facimus.
Fac eas, Domine, de morte transire ad vitam.
Quam olim Abrahæ promisisti et semini eius.

O Lord, we offer You
sacrifices and prayers of praise;
accept them on behalf of those souls
whom we remember today.
Let them, O Lord, pass over from death to life,
as you once promised to Abraham and his seed.


This is as the Sanctus prayer in the Ordinary of the Mass:

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Dominus Deus Sabaoth;
pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis.

Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis. (reprise)

Holy, Holy, Holy,
Lord God of Hosts;
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest. (reprise)

Agnus Dei (please notice the ending of each verse, eliminated in the reformed rite!)

This is as the Agnus Dei in the Ordinary of the Mass, but with the petitions miserere nobis changed to dona eis requiem, and dona nobis pacem to dona eis requiem sempiternam:

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona eis requiem,
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona eis requiem,
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona eis requiem sempiternam.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, grant them rest,
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, grant them rest,
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, grant them eternal

Communion (this is the official hymn, but bumped today for a metrical, sentimental hymn of some sort)

Lux æterna luceat eis, Domine,
cum sanctis tuis in æternum,
quia pius es.
Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine;
et lux perpetua luceat eis ;
cum Sanctis tuis in æternum,
quia pius es.

May everlasting light shine upon them, O Lord,
with your Saints forever,
for you are kind.
Grant them eternal rest, O Lord,
and may everlasting light shine upon them.
with your Saints forever,
for you are merciful.

The Pie Iesu consists of the final words of the Dies Irae followed by the final words of the Agnus Dei.

Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem.
Dona eis requiem sempiterna.

O sweet Lord Jesus, grant them rest;
grant them everlasting rest.

Musical Requiem settings sometimes include passages from the "Absolution at the bier" (Absolutio ad feretrum) or "Commendation of the dead person" (referred to also as the Absolution of the dead), which in the case of a funeral, follows the conclusion of the Mass. In the Ordinary Form this has been eliminated to what is now called the Final Commendation using prayers that have been emasculated without reference to judgment or possible condemnation, thus a liturgical denial of both of these theological possibilities, a denial that leads many Catholics today to believe that their loved ones enter the bliss of heaven immediately without the possibility of a severe judgment or even condemnation. The law of prayer is the law of belief for better or worse.

Libera Me

Libera me, Domine, de morte æterna, in die illa tremenda:
Quando cæli movendi sunt et terra.
Dum veneris iudicare sæculum per ignem.
Tremens factus sum ego, et timeo, dum discussio venerit, atque ventura ira.
Quando cæli movendi sunt et terra.
Dies illa, dies iræ, calamitatis et miseriæ, dies magna et amara valde.
Dum veneris iudicare sæculum per ignem.
Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine: et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Deliver me, O Lord, from death eternal on that fearful day,
when the heavens and the earth shall be moved,
when thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.
I am made to tremble, and I fear, till the judgment be upon us, and the coming wrath,
when the heavens and the earth shall be moved.
That day, day of wrath, calamity, and misery, day of great and exceeding bitterness,
when thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.
Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord: and let light perpetual shine upon them.

In Paradisum (This is only optional today and most select a metrical recessional anthem of some kind. At St. Joseph Church, we require "In Paradisum" to be sung and do not allow a metrical substitution. We use a very beautiful contemporary English version, but also allow the traditional Latin if requested.)

In paradisum deducant te Angeli:
in tuo adventu suscipiant te Martyres,
et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem.
Chorus Angelorum te suscipiat,
et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.

May Angels lead you into paradise;
may the Martyrs receive you at your coming
and lead you to the holy city of Jerusalem.
May a choir of Angels receive you,
and with Lazarus, who once was poor, may you have eternal rest.


Anonymous said...

Excellent point. Tonight we will take in Mozart's Requiem and I will follow along with your post.


Top said...

That post was wonderful, thank you!

Fr. Patrick Bonaventure de la Cruz said...

Very excellent, Fr. Allan.

I find the words of the traditional requiem very true so as to be touching to the human heart. It is unlike the modern rite of burial which assimilates the mindset of the current age; it is as you remark "happy, clappy, sappy", which may "touch" the bereaved in a melodramatic way but which does not proclaim the reality and the truth about death, sin, and the judgment of God.

Anonymous said...

You will be pleased to note that Mozart was strikingly faithful to the Mass. Here is his version:

Contemplating these words brought to mind a recent composition in recent popular music:

I admit this is an acquired taste, but one worth the effort. Listen to the lyrics and they reflect the essence of the Requiem concisely in a popular format inspired by sacred source. Consider that this is a new composition in the style of 18th century folk music with an even more ancient theme. This is the sort of thing that gives me hope for our children.


Gene said...

Can this be requested for funeral Mass?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

You may request the Extraordinary Form of the Requiem Mass! Thank Pope Benedict for that, but the entire Mass would be in Latin.

In terms of planning your Ordinary Form Requiem Mass, you could insist on the official Introit for the Mass or the Extraordinary Form of it in English. You couldn't have the gradual, tract or sequence, but rather the Responsorial Psalm and there are many choices for it. I think you could ask that the verse between the Gospel Acclamation be that of the tract, but I could be wrong.

In terms of the sequence which is the Dies Irae, I know that sequences are allowed in other Masses, for example Easter Sunday, Corpus Christi, etc. The Sequence is always sung before the Gospel Acclamation. Can you ask for the Dies Irae for the OF Funeral Mass, I don't know, seems like one could. There are some nice English settings of this. It is long as you can see.

You could choose the EF Offertory Antiphon for the OF Funeral Mass. You could choose Pie Jesu for an additional Communion hymn and libera nos as a post-communion hymn. Technically, there is no reason why the Libera Nos couldn't be sung in place of one of the official songs of farewell in the ritual, since these can be replaced with a "suitable" hymn.
In Paradisum for the recessional is a no-brainer!

Anonymous said...

IMHO, I think they were trying to "compete" with Protestant funeral services, many of which are "celebrations" consistent with the assumption that the deceased went straight to Heaven (although I did go to one Protestant funeral where the minister implied that the deceased had gone straight to Hell and informed those present that since they probably were no better than she was, everyone present needed to be saved immediately!) I think the traditional service is beautiful and hope when my time comes that is what is used.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

It's my understanding that you can use the Graudal for the OF, seeing as the Responsorial Psalm is the 2nd of the options in the GIRM..(I don't have my copy with me)

I've seen OF Masses with the Tract being used instead of the Gospel acclamation. The official music of the Church is being subsituted on way too many occasions. I know this is how the Norbertines do the Mass back in LA where I'm from, I can't imagine it being an abuse of the Liturgy

SqueekerLamb said...

I'll be attending the All Soul's Day EF Requiem Mass.

Now I will be prepared in advance and can savor it even more.

Thank you.

Henry said...

Of course, the generally understood purpose of the OF funeral Mass (to celebrate the life of deceased) is quite different from that of an EF requiem Mass, which is solely to pray for the repose of the soul of the deceased.

On May 3, 2008 I attended at the Shrine in Hanceville (AL) a solemn high Requiem Mass celebrated by the FSSP for the 3rd anniversary of John Paul II’s death (thus, 3 years after many had declared him santa subito), complete with black catafalque topped with papal red at front in center aisle.

Beyond comparison, it was the most profoundly Catholic Mass I have ever experienced. Not a word in the vernacular from beginning to end. No repeated readings, no sermon, all Gregorian chant with no music per se (no hymns, no offertory or communion motets, etc). The Dies irae was perhaps the most moving moment.

Until after the Mass and before the blessing at the catafalque, the celebrant removed his chasuble and donned the black cope that since before Mass had been hanging in the sanctuary, lit candle on one side, processional cross on the other side, signifying the deceased pontiff, and mounted the pulpit for his "tribute", which never until the final two sentences mentioned the deceased pope, instead outlined why the solemn Requiem Mass is the most impressive (and expressive) of all Catholic liturgies, dealing directly as it does with death as the wages of sin -- after which each of us can expect judgment followed by either purgatory or hell -- with the sole and undiluted purpose throughout of offering sacrifice for the repose of the soul of the deceased. Then he ended by saying

"Perhaps someday we will be praying to John Paul in heaven as a Blessed of the Church. But today we pray instead for the repose of his soul, that he may in time be permitted to join the ranks of blesseds in heaven."

Earlier that morning, I had (on EWTN) seen Pope Benedict and hordes of concelebrating cardinals decked out in festive looking red robes, and our great and wonderful Pope suggesting our need now for John Paul's intercession in heaven on our behalf.

I recall remarking offhand to someone after the solemn requiem Mass that anyone, who has attended recently an OF funeral and really believes these are two different forms of one and the same Roman rite, of one and the same Church, has a serious problem of perception. I would not say this in the same way now, but it reflected at the moment the overwhelming effect of the Church’s most profound liturgy–-the EF requiem Mass.

Anonymous said...

Henry, what you have to say is true. I should like to add, however, that an EF Requiem Mass is not only about praying for the deceased, but also, and perhaps especially, about putting all the living in attendance on notice that they, too, shall one day meet their Maker. All are enjoined to clean up their acts before it's too late!


Anonymous said...

Verdi's Requiem was written for the concert hall rather than for use at an actual funeral mass in a church.