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The Requiem or Requiem Mass, also known as the Missa pro defunctis (Latin, "Mass for the deceased") or Missa defunctorum ("Mass of the deceased"), is a liturgical service of the Roman Catholic Church celebrated by the priest presider for the repose of the soul of a particular deceased person or persons. It is frequently, but by no means always, celebrated in the context of a funeral.

Outside the Catholic Church, the ceremony is used in the Anglo-Catholic branch of Anglicanism and in certain Lutheran churches. A comparable service, with a wholly different ritual form and texts, exists in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches.

The term "Requiem" is the accusative form of the Latin noun requies (rest, repose). The introit of the liturgy begins with the words "Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine" – "Grant them eternal rest, O Lord".

The Requiem Mass is notable for the large number of musical compositions that it has inspired, including the requiems of Mozart, Verdi and Fauré. Originally, such compositions were meant to be performed in liturgical service, with monophonic chant. Eventually the dramatic character of the text began to appeal to composers to an extent that they made the requiem a genre of its own, and the requiems of composers such as Verdi are essentially concert pieces rather than liturgical works.

Celebrations of the Requiem Mass were often referred to as "black Masses", from the colour of the vestments worn by the priest and the altar cloths. The term has no connection with the Satanist ritual of the same name. Since the liturgical reform of 1969–1970, the colour black has been replaced with purple in requiems celebrated in the ordinary form of the Roman Catholic liturgy.

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 perpetual light 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. The Requiem Mass is still used in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, which was never abrogated by the Second Vatican Council, but has been increasingly celebrated around the world after support from Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

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


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

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


Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine :
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
In memoria æterna erit justus,
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.


Absolve, Domine,
animas omnium fidelium defunctorum
ab omni 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.


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)


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.
Let them, O Lord, pass over from death to life,
as you 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 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

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 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 eternal rest.


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.

The Requiem Mass is often followed by Absolution of the dead, which in turn will proceed to the burial of the body in the case of an actual funeral service.

Added movements

Some settings contain additional texts, such as the devotional motet Pie Jesu (in the settings of Dvořák, Fauré, and Duruflé—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 Psalms Out of the Deep (130) and The Lord is My Shepherd (23) 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 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

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.

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.[1] 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.[1]

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.[1] 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.

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 Roman Catholic requiem, and which provided inspiration for the mighty German Requiem by Brahms.[2]

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 in 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 William Croft, 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 shall 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.

Recent 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, Krzysztof Penderecki's Polish Requiem includes a traditional Polish hymn within the sequence, and Robert Steadman's Mass in Black intersperses environmental poetry and prophecies of Nostradamus. 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. Recent requiem works by Taiwanese composers Tyzen Hsiao and Fan-Long Ko follow in this tradition, honouring victims of the 2-28 Incident and subsequent White Terror. Another recent requiem composed by Hong Kong composer Man-Ching Donald Yu, commemorating the victims of the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake.

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 famously exemplified by Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem. Hans Werner Henze's Das Floß der Medusa, written in 1968 as a requiem for Che Guevara, is properly speaking an oratorio; Henze's Requiem is instrumental but retains the traditional Latin titles for the movements. Igor Stravinsky's Requiem canticles mixes instrumental movements with segments of the "Introit," "Dies irae," "Pie Jesu," and "Libera me."

One of the most recent compositions referencing a Requiem is the orchestral piece Requiem for a Dream, written by Clint Mansell. The most basic interpretation of the song is that somehow this dreamer is unable to live out his or her hopes, and the song is a way of saying the oppression of this dream is an injustice.

Famous Requiems

See also: Requiems

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

  • Ockeghem's Requiem, the earliest to survive, written sometime in the mid-to-late 15th century
  • Victoria's Requiem of 1603, (part of a longer Office for the Dead)
  • Mozart's Requiem in D minor (Mozart died before its completion)
  • Cherubini's Requiem in C minor
  • Berlioz' Grande Messe des Morts
  • Verdi's Requiem
  • Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem, based on passages from Luther's Bible.
  • Fauré's Requiem in D minor
  • Dvořák's Requiem, Op. 89
  • Britten's War Requiem, which incorporated poems by Wilfred Owen.
  • Duruflé's Requiem, based almost exclusively on the chants from the Graduale Romanum.
  • Rutter's Requiem, includes selected Psalms.
  • Ligeti's Requiem
  • 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


  • Giovanni Francesco Anerio
  • Gianmatteo Asola
  • Giulio Belli
  • Antoine Brumel
  • Manuel Cardoso
  • Joan Cererols
  • Pierre Certon
  • Clemens non Papa
  • Guillaume Dufay (lost)
  • Pedro de Escobar
  • Antoine de Févin
  • Francisco Guerrero
  • Jacobus de Kerle
  • Orlande de Lassus
  • Duarte Lobo
  • Jean Maillard
  • Jacques Mauduit
  • Manuel Mendes
  • Cristóbal de Morales
  • Johannes Ockeghem (the earliest to survive)
  • Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
  • Costanzo Porta
  • Johannes Prioris
  • Jean Richafort
  • Pierre de la Rue
  • Claudin de Sermisy
  • Jacobus Vaet
  • Tomás Luis de Victoria


  • Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber
  • André Campra
  • Marc-Antoine Charpentier
  • Johann Joseph Fux
  • Jean Gilles
  • Antonio Lotti (Requiem in F Major)
  • Claudio Monteverdi (lost)
  • Michael Praetorius
  • Heinrich Schütz
  • Jan Dismas Zelenka

Classical period

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Luigi Cherubini
  • Florian Leopold Gassmann
  • François-Joseph Gossec
  • Michael Haydn, Requiem in C minor
  • Andrea Luchesi
  • José Maurício Nunes Garcia
  • Antonio Salieri

Romantic era

  • Hector Berlioz
  • João Domingos Bomtempo
  • Johannes Brahms
  • Anton Bruckner, Requiem in D minor[3]
  • Ferruccio Busoni
  • Carl Czerny
  • Gaetano Donizetti
  • Antonín Dvořák
  • Gabriel Fauré
  • Charles Gounod
  • Franz Liszt
  • Giacomo Puccini [Introit only]
  • Max Reger
  • Camille Saint-Saëns
  • Robert Schumann
  • Franz von Suppé
  • Charles Villiers Stanford
  • Giuseppe Verdi
  • Richard Wetz
  • See also: Messa per Rossini

20th century

  • Malcolm Archer
  • Vyacheslav Artyomov
  • Osvaldas Balakauskas
  • Benjamin Britten
  • Vladimir Dashkevich
  • Edison Denisov
  • Alfred Desenclos
  • Ralph Dunstan
  • Maurice Duruflé
  • Hans Werner Henze
  • Herbert Howells
  • Karl Jenkins
  • Joonas Kokkonen
  • Cyrillus Kreek
  • György Ligeti
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber
  • Fernando Lopes-Graça
  • Frigyes Hidas
  • Frank Martin
  • Krzysztof Penderecki
  • Ildebrando Pizzetti
  • Jocelyn Pook
  • Zbigniew Preisner
  • John Rutter
  • Robert Rønnes
  • Shigeaki Saegusa
  • Alfred Schnittke
  • Valentin Silvestrov
  • Robert Steadman
  • Igor Stravinsky
  • Toru Takemitsu
  • John Tavener
  • Virgil Thomson
  • Erkki-Sven Tüür
  • Malcolm Williamson
  • Howard Goodall

21st century

  • John Tavener (Heartbeat aka 'Prayer of the Heart' written for Björk)
  • Carlo Forlivesi
  • Tyzen Hsiao
  • Karl Jenkins
  • Fan-Long Ko
  • Clint Mansell, (Theme from Requiem For A Dream aka 'Lux Aeterna')
  • Christopher Rouse
  • Kentaro Sato
  • Somtow Sucharitkul
  • Virgin Black
  • Mack Wilberg
  • Troy Banarzi
  • Man-Ching Donald Yu
  • Thierry Lancino

Requiems by language (other than Latin)

English with Latin

  • Ray Vincent Adams
  • Benjamin Britten
  • Evgeni Kostitsyn
  • Herbert Howells
  • John Rutter
  • Mack Wilberg
  • Somtow Sucharitkul


  • Michael Praetorius
  • Heinrich Schütz
  • Franz Schubert
  • Johannes Brahms

French, Greek, with Latin

  • Thierry Lancino

French, English, German with Latin

  • Edison Denisov

Polish with Latin

  • Krzysztof Penderecki
  • Zbigniew Preisner


  • Sergei Taneyev – Cantata John of Damascus, Op.1 (Text by Alexey Tolstoy)
  • Dmitri KabalevskyWar Requiem (Text by Robert Rozhdestvensky)
  • Elena FirsovaRequiem, Op.100 (Text by Anna Akhmatova)
  • Vladimir DashkevichRequiem (Text by Anna Akhmatova)


  • Tyzen HsiaoIlha Formosa: Requiem for Formosa's Martyrs, 2001 (Text by Min-yung Lee, 1994)
  • Fan-Long Ko2-28 Requiem, 2008. (Text by Li Kuei-Hsien)


  • Benjamin BrittenSinfonia de Requiem
  • Carlo ForlivesiRequiem, for 8-channel tape[4]
  • Hans Werner HenzeRequiem (instrumental)

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Fabrice Fitch: "Requiem (2)", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (Accessed January 21, 2007)
  2. A rather exhaustive list of requiem composers can be found on
  3. p. 8, Kinder (2000) Keith William. Westport, Connecticut. The Wind and Wind-Chorus Music of Anton Bruckner Greenwood Press
  4. ALM Records ALCD-76 Silenziosa Luna

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikisource. The original article was at Requiem. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the Religion wiki, the text of Wikisource is available under the CC-BY-SA.

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