requiem mass

requiem mass

[rek-wee-uhm, ree-kwee-, rey-]

Musical setting of the mass for the dead. (Requiem, Latin for “rest,” is the first word of the mass.) The requiem's text differs from the standard mass Ordinary in omitting its joyous sections and keeping only the Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei, which are combined with other sections, including the sequence Dies irae (“Day of Wrath”). The first surviving polyphonic setting is by Johannes Ockeghem; celebrated later requiems include those of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Hector Berlioz, Giuseppe Verdi, Gabriel Fauré, Johannes Brahms, and Benjamin Britten.

Learn more about requiem mass with a free trial on Britannica.com.

The Requiem (from Latin requiem, accusative case of requies, rest) or Requiem Mass (informally, a funeral Mass), also known formally (in Latin) as the Missa pro defunctis or Missa defunctorum ("mass for the departed" or "mass of the departed," respectively), is a liturgical service of the Roman Catholic Church, Anglo-Catholic Anglicans, as well as certain Lutheran Churches in the United States. There is also a requiem, with a wholly different ritual form and texts, that is observed in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. The common theme of requiems is prayer for the salvation of the soul(s) of the departed, and it is used both at services immediately preceding a burial, and on occasions of more general remembrance.

"Requiem" is also the title of various musical compositions used in such liturgical services or as concert pieces as settings of the portions of that Mass which have been traditionally sung in the Roman Catholic liturgy.

While prayers in the regular Mass, such as the Introit and Gradual change according to the Calendar of Saints, the text for the requiem Mass is particularly fixed. Originally such funeral musical compositions were meant to be performed in liturgical service, with monophonic chant. Eventually the dramatic character began to appeal to composers to an extent that they made the requiem a genre of its own.

The Roman Rite liturgy

This use of the word requiem comes from the opening words of the Introit: Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. (Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them.) The requiem form of the Tridentine Mass differs from the ordinary Mass in omitting certain joyful passages, such as the Alleluia, in never having the Gloria or the Credo, in adding the sequence Dies Iræ, in altering the Agnus Dei, in replacing Ite missa est with Requiescant in pace, and in omitting the final blessing. These distinctions have not been kept in the Roman Rite as revised after the Second Vatican Council.

The regular texts of the musical portions to be found in the Roman Catholic liturgy are the following:

  • Introit:

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, as the Kyrie the Ordinary of the Mass:

Kyrie eleison;
Christe eleison;
Kyrie eleison
Lord have mercy;
Christ have mercy;
Lord have mercy.

This is Greek (Κυριε ελεησον; Χριστε ελεησον; Κυριε ελεησον) Traditionally, each utterance is sung three times.

  • Gradual:

Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine;
In memoria æterna erit justus,
ab auditione mala non timebit.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
He shall be justified in everlasting memory,
and shall not fear evil reports.”)

  • Tract:

Absolve, Domine,
animas omnium fidelium defunctorum
ab omno vinculo delictorum
et gratia tua illis
succurente mereantur
evadere iudicium ultionis,
et lucis æterne beatitudine perfrui.
Forgive, O Lord,
the souls of all the faithful departed
from all the chains of their sins
and may they deserve
to avoid the judgment of revenge by your fostering grace,
and enjoy the everlasting blessedness of light.”)

  • Sequence:

Dies iræ, dies illa
Solvet sæclum in favilla,
teste David cum Sibylla...
Day of wrath! Day of mourning!,
a day that the world will dissolve in ashes,
as foretold by David and the Sibyl
(See Dies Iræ for full text)

  • Offertory:

Domine, Jesu 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 ejus.
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 sign-bearer, Saint Michael,
lead them into the holy light
which you 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 ejus.
O Lord, we offer you
sacrifices and prayers in praise;
accept them on behalf of the souls
whom we remember today.
Make them pass over from death to life,
as you promised to Abraham and his seed.”)

  • Sanctus, as the Sanctus prayer in the Ordinary of the Mass:

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Dominus Deus Sabaoth;
pleni sunt coeli 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.

  • Agnus Dei, text 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 takes away the sins of the world, grant them rest,
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant them rest,
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant them rest, eternal.

  • Communion:

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 aeternum,
quia pius es.
May everlasting light shine upon them, O Lord,
with your saints forever,
for you are merciful.
Grant them eternal rest, O Lord,
and may everlasting light shine upon them.
with your saints forever,
for you are merciful.

As with the regular Sunday or ferial Mass in penitential seasons, the Gloria (from the Ordinary) is always omitted in a Requiem Mass. In the Tridentine form of the Roman Rite and Alleluia (from the Proper) is also omitted, as being overly joyful, and is replaced by the Tract. Likewise, the Credo (which, like the Gloria, is used in the ordinary Mass only on more solemn feasts) is never used in the Requiem Mass. The Dies iræ was rendered optional in 1967 and was omitted altogether from the revised Mass in 1969; at the same time, the Tract was abolished and the Alleluia added to the Requiem Mass, except in Lent, when it is replaced also at ordinary Masses by a less joyful acclamation.

Musical compositions

For many centuries the texts of the requiem were sung to Gregorian melodies. The Requiem by Johannes Ockeghem, written sometime in the latter half of the 15th century, is the earliest surviving polyphonic setting. There was a setting by the elder composer Dufay, possibly earlier, which is now lost: Ockeghem's may have been modelled on it. Many early requiems employ different texts that were in use in different liturgies around Europe before the Council of Trent set down the texts given above. The requiem of Brumel, circa 1500, is the first to include the Dies Iræ. In the early polyphonic settings of the Requiem, there is considerable textural contrast within the compositions themselves: simple chordal or fauxbourdon-like passages are contrasted with other sections of contrapuntal complexity, such as in the Offertory of Ockeghem's Requiem.

In the 16th century, more and more composers set the Requiem mass. In contrast to practice in setting the Mass Ordinary, many of these settings used a cantus-firmus technique, something which had become quite archaic by mid-century. In addition, these settings used less textural contrast than the early settings by Ockeghem and Brumel, although the vocal scoring was often richer, for example in the six-voice Requiem by Jean Richafort which he wrote for the death of Josquin des Prez. Other composers who wrote Requiems before 1550 include Pedro de Escobar, Antoine de Févin, Cristóbal Morales, and Pierre de La Rue; that by La Rue is probably the second oldest, after Ockeghem's.

Over 2,000 requiems have been composed to the present day. Typically the Renaissance settings, especially those not written on the Iberian Peninsula, may be performed a cappella (i.e. without necessary accompanying instrumental parts), whereas beginning around 1600 composers more often preferred to use instruments to accompany a choir, and also include vocal soloists. There is great variation between compositions in how much of liturgical text is set to music.

Most composers omit sections of the liturgical prescription, most frequently the Gradual and the Tract. Fauré omits the Dies iræ, while the very same text had often been set by French composers in previous centuries as a stand-alone work.

Sometimes composers divide an item of the liturgical text into two or more movements; because of the length of its text, the Dies iræ is the most frequently divided section of the text (as with Mozart, for instance). The Introit and Kyrie, being immediately adjacent in the actual Roman Catholic liturgy, are often composed as one movement.

Musico-thematic relationships among movements of Requiems can be found as well.

Added movements

Some settings contain additional texts, such as the devotional motet Pie Jesu (in the settings of Dvořák, Fauré, Duruflé, and Lloyd Webber—Fauré set it as a soprano solo in the center). Libera me (from the Absolution) and In paradisum (from the burial service, which in the case of a funeral follows after the Mass) conclude some compositions. Other added movements have been composed as well, such as the English Psalms Out of the Deep and The Lord is My Shepherd included in John Rutter's setting.

Libera me

Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna, in die illa tremenda:
Quando caeli movendi sunt et terra.
Dum veneris judicare saeculum per ignem.
Tremens factus sum ego, et timeo, dum discussio venerit, atque ventura ira.
Quando caeli movendi sunt et terra.
Dies illa, dies irae, calamitatis et miseriae, dies magna et amara valde.
Dum veneris judicare saeculum per ignem.
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine: et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Deliver me, O Lord, from eternal death on that fearful day,
when the heavens and the earth are moved,
when you come to judge the world with fire.
I am made to tremble and I fear, because of the judgment that will come, and also the coming wrath.
when the heavens and the earth are moved,
That day, day of wrath, calamity, and misery, day of great and exceeding bitterness.
when you come to judge the world with fire.
Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.

In paradisum

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

Pie Jesu

The Pie Jesu combines and paraphrases of the final verse of the Dies irae and the Agnus Dei.

Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem.
Dona eis requiem sempiternam.
O sweet Lord Jesus, grant them rest;
grant them everlasting rest.

Concert requiems

Beginning in the 18th century and continuing through the 19th, many composers wrote what are effectively concert requiems, which by virtue of employing forces too large, or lasting such a considerable duration, prevent them being readily used in an ordinary funeral service; the requiems of Gossec, Berlioz, Verdi, and Dvořák are essentially dramatic concert oratorios. A counter-reaction to this tendency came from the Cecilian movement, which recommended restrained accompaniment for liturgical music, and frowned upon the use of operatic vocal soloists.

Non-Roman Catholic requiems

Requiem is also used to describe any sacred composition that sets to music religious texts which would be appropriate at a funeral, or to describe such compositions for liturgies other than the Roman Catholic Mass.

Among the earliest examples of this type are the German requiems composed in the 17th century by Heinrich Schütz and Michael Praetorius, whose works are Lutheran adaptations of the Catholic requiem, and which provided inspiration for the mighty German Requiem by Brahms. A rather exhaustive list of requiem composers can be found on this site

Such requiems would include:

Eastern Orthodox Requiem

In the Eastern Orthodox and Greek-Catholic Churches, the requiem is the fullest form of memorial service (Greek: Parastas, Slavonic: Panikhida). The normal memorial service is a greatly abbreviated form of Matins, but the Requiem contains all of the psalms, readings, and hymns normally found the All-Night Vigil (which combines the Canonical Hours of Vespers, Matins and First Hour), providing a complete set of propers for the departed. The full requiem will last around three and a half hours. In this format it more clearly represents the original concept of parastas, which means literally, "standing throughout (the night)." Often, there will be a Divine Liturgy celebrated the next morning with further propers for the departed.

Because of their great length, full requiems are rarely served. However, at least in the Russian liturgical tradition, a Requiem will often be served on the eve before the Glorification (canonization) of a saint, in a special service known as the "Last Panikhida."

Anglican burial service

The Anglican Book of Common Prayer contains seven texts which are collectively known as "funeral sentences"; several composers have written settings of these seven texts, which are generally known collectively as a "burial service." Composers who have set the Anglican burial service to music include Thomas Morley, Orlando Gibbons, and Henry Purcell. The text of these seven sentences, from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, is:

  • I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.
  • I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shalt stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.
  • We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord.
  • Man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery. He cometh up, and is cut down, like a flower; he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay.
  • In the midst of life we are in death: of whom may we seek for succour, but of thee, O Lord, who for our sins art justly displeased? Yet, O Lord God most holy, O Lord most mighty, O holy and most merciful Saviour, deliver us not into the bitter pains of eternal death.
  • Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts; shut not thy merciful ears to our prayer; but spare us, Lord most holy, O God most mighty, O holy and merciful Saviour, thou most worthy judge eternal, suffer us not, at our last hour, for any pains of death, to fall from thee.
  • I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, Write, From henceforth blessed are the dead which die in the Lord: even so saith the Spirit: for they rest from their labours.

20th century developments

In the 20th century the requiem evolved in several new directions. The genre of war requiems is perhaps the most notable, which comprise of compositions dedicated to the memory of people killed in wartime. These often include extra-liturgical poems of a pacifist or non-liturgical nature; for example, the War Requiem of Benjamin Britten juxtaposes the Latin text with the poetry of Wilfred Owen, and Robert Steadman's Mass in Black intersperses environmental poetry and prophecies of Nostradamus. The several Holocaust requiems may be regarded as a specific subset of this type. The World Requiem of John Foulds was written in the aftermath of the First World War and initiated the Royal British Legion's annual festival of remembrance.

Lastly, the 20th century saw the development of secular requiems, written for public performance without specific religious observance (e.g., Kabalevsky's War Requiem, to poems by Robert Rozhdestvensky). Herbert Howells's unaccompanied Requiem uses Psalm 23 ("The Lord is my shepherd"), Psalm 121 ("I will lift up mine eyes"), "Salvator mundi" ("O Saviour of the world," in English), "Requiem aeternam" (two different settings), and "I heard a voice from heaven." Some composers have written purely instrumental works bearing the title of requiem, as exemplified by the most famous of these, Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem. Igor Stravinsky's Requiem canticles mixes instrumental movements with segments of the "Introit," "Dies irae," "Pie Jesu," and "Libera me."

Hans Werner Henze wrote Das Floß der Medusa in 1968 as a requiem for Che Guevara, although it is properly speaking an oratorio. His Requiem was written in the 1990s, with the traditional title for the movements, but played by instrumentalists without singers.

Famous Requiems

See also: Requiems
Many composers have written Requiems. Some of the most famous include:

Benjamin Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem and Arthur Honegger's Symphonie Liturgique use titles from the traditional Requiem as subtitles of movements.

Other Requiem composers

Renaissance

Baroque

Classical period

Romantic era

20th century

21st century

Requiems by language (other than Latin)

English with Latin

German

French, English, German with Latin

Polish with Latin

Russian

Chinese

Nonlinguistic

See also

Notes

External links

Search another word or see requiem masson Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature