The first movement consists of the Introit from the Tridentine Requiem Mass (Requiem aeternam) and the Kyrie. The second movement is entitled Out of the Deep, and is based on Psalm 130, a psalm commonly used at Anglican funerals. It contains a prominent cello solo written in C minor. The third movement is the motet Pie Jesu. It begins with a lyrical soprano soloist singing with a very light accompaniment, with only slight involvement of the chorus echoing the words "Dona eis requiem, Dona eis sempiternam requiem". The fourth movement is the Sanctus (with Benedictus) and, characteristically, it is a bright, lively, and exclamatory movement which is brightly orchestrated with bells, flute, and oboe and occasional timpani recalling the passage in Old Testament scripture in Isaiah chapter 6, and the worship of the six-winged seraphim in the heavenly throne-room of God. The fifth movement is the Agnus Dei in the version used in the Tridentine Requiem Mass. The sixth movement is Psalm 23, another psalm commonly used at Anglican funerals. The seventh movement includes words from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer Burial Service ("I heard a voice from heaven...") and the communion chant from the Tridentine Requiem Mass (Lux aeterna).
The work lasts about 40 minutes.
English text from the Burial Service (slightly altered); Latin text, Missa pro defunctis English translations by John Rutter