The Requiem Mass is notable for the large number of musical compositions that it has inspired, including settings by Mozart, Berlioz, Verdi, Bruckner, Dvo?ák, Fauré and Duruflé. 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 compositions of composers such as Verdi are essentially concert pieces rather than liturgical works.
The following are the texts that have been set to music. Note that the Libera Me and the In Paradisum are not part of the text of the Catholic Mass for the Dead itself, but a part of the burial rite that immediately follows. In Paradisum was traditionally said or sung as the body left the church, and the Libera Me is said/sung at the burial site before interment. These became included in musical settings of the Requiem in the 19th century as composers began to treat the form more liberally.
Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine:
Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord,
Lord, have mercy.
This is Greek ( ?, ?, ?). Each utterance is sung three times, though sometimes that is not the case when sung polyphonically.
From 4 Esdras 2:34-35; Psalm 111:7
Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine:
Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord;
Absolve, O Lord,
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". The Latin text below is taken from the Requiem Mass in the 1962 Roman Missal. The first English version below, translated by William Josiah Irons in 1849, replicates the rhyme and metre of the original. The second English version is a more formal equivalence.
|1||Dies iræ, dies illa,
Solvet sæclum in favilla:
Teste David cum Sibylla.
|Day of wrath and doom impending,
David's word with Sibyl's blending,
Heaven and earth in ashes ending.
|The day of wrath, that day|
will dissolve the world in ashes,
David being witness along with the Sibyl.
|2||Quantus tremor est futurus,
Quando iudex est venturus,
Cuncta stricte discussurus!
|Oh, what fear man's bosom rendeth,
When from heaven the Judge descendeth,
On whose sentence all dependeth.
|How great will be the quaking,|
when the Judge will come,
investigating everything strictly.
|3||Tuba, mirum spargens sonum
Per sepulchra regionum,
Coget omnes ante thronum.
|Wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth,
Through earth's sepulchers it ringeth,
All before the throne it bringeth.
|The trumpet, scattering a wondrous sound|
through the sepulchres of the regions,
will summon all before the throne.
|4||Mors stupebit, et natura,
Cum resurget creatura,
|Death is struck, and nature quaking,
All creation is awaking,
To its Judge an answer making.
|Death and nature will marvel,|
when the creature will rise again,
to respond to the Judge.
|5||Liber scriptus proferetur,
In quo totum continetur,
Unde mundus iudicetur.
|Lo, the book exactly worded,
Wherein all hath been recorded,
Thence shall judgement be awarded.
|The written book will be brought forth,|
in which all is contained,
from which the world shall be judged.
|6||Iudex ergo cum sedebit,
Quidquid latet, apparebit:
Nil inultum remanebit.
|When the Judge His seat attaineth,
And each hidden deed arraigneth,
Nothing unavenged remaineth.
|When therefore the Judge will sit,|
whatever lies hidden will appear:
nothing will remain unpunished.
|7||Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
Quem patronum rogaturus,
Cum vix iustus sit securus?
|What shall I, frail man, be pleading?
Who for me be interceding
When the just are mercy needing?
|What then will I, poor wretch [that I am], say?|
Which patron will I entreat,
when [even] the just may [only] hardly be sure?
|8||Rex tremendæ maiestatis,
Qui salvandos salvas gratis,
Salva me, fons pietatis.
|King of majesty tremendous,
Who dost free salvation send us,
Fount of pity, then befriend us.
|King of fearsome majesty,|
Who freely savest those that are to be saved,
save me, O font of mercy.
|9||Recordare, Iesu pie,
Quod sum causa tuæ viæ:
Ne me perdas illa die.
|Think, kind Jesus, my salvation
Caused Thy wondrous Incarnation,
Leave me not to reprobation.
|Remember, merciful Jesus,|
that I am the cause of Thy way:
lest Thou lose me in that day.
|10||Quærens me, sedisti lassus:
Redemisti Crucem passus:
Tantus labor non sit cassus.
|Faint and weary Thou hast sought me,
On the Cross of suffering bought me,
Shall such grace be vainly brought me?
|Seeking me, Thou sattest tired:|
Thou redeemedst [me], having suffered the Cross:
let not so much hardship be in vain.
|11||Iuste iudex ultionis,
Donum fac remissionis
Ante diem rationis.
|Righteous Judge, for sin's pollution
Grant Thy gift of absolution,
Ere that day of retribution.
|Just Judge of vengeance,|
make a gift of remission
before the day of reckoning.
|12||Ingemisco, tamquam reus:
Culpa rubet vultus meus:
Supplicanti parce, Deus.
|Guilty now I pour my moaning,
All my shame with anguish owning,
Spare, O God, Thy suppliant groaning.
|I sigh, like the guilty one:|
my face reddens in guilt:
Spare the supplicating one, O God.
|13||Qui Mariam absolvisti,
Et latronem exaudisti,
Mihi quoque spem dedisti.
|Through the sinful woman shriven,
Through the dying thief forgiven,
Thou to me a hope hast given.
|Thou who absolvedst Mary,|
and heardest the robber,
gavest hope to me, too.
|14||Preces meæ non sunt dignæ;
Sed tu bonus fac benigne,
Ne perenni cremer igne.
|Worthless are my prayers and sighing,
Yet, good Lord, in grace complying,
Rescue me from fires undying.
|My prayers are not worthy:|
but do Thou, [who art] good, graciously grant
that I not be burned up by the everlasting fire.
|15||Inter oves locum præsta.
Et ab hædis me sequestra,
Statuens in parte dextra.
|With Thy sheep a place provide me,
From the goats afar divide me,
To Thy right hand do Thou guide me.
|Grant me a place among the sheep,|
and take me out from among the goats,
setting me on the right side.
Flammis acribus addictis:
Voca me cum benedictis.
|When the wicked are confounded,
Doomed to flames of woe unbounded,
Call me with Thy saints surrounded.
|Once the cursed have been silenced,|
sentenced to acrid flames:
Call Thou me with the blessed.
|17||Oro supplex et acclinis,
Cor contritum quasi cinis:
Gere curam mei finis.
|Low I kneel with heart's submission,
See, like ashes, my contrition,
Help me in my last condition.
|[Humbly] kneeling and bowed I pray,|
[my] heart crushed as ashes:
take care of my end.
|18||Lacrimosa dies illa,
Qua resurget ex favilla
Iudicandus homo reus:
Huic ergo parce, Deus.
|Ah! that day of tears and mourning,
From the dust of earth returning,
Man for judgment must prepare him,
Spare, O God, in mercy spare him.
|Tearful [will be] that day,|
on which from the glowing embers will arise
the guilty man who is to be judged.
Then spare him, O God.
|19||Pie Iesu Domine,
Dona eis requiem. Amen.
|Lord all-pitying, Jesus blest,
Grant them Thine eternal rest. Amen.
|Merciful Lord Jesus,|
grant them rest. Amen.
Domine Iesu Christe, Rex gloriæ,
O Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory,
Hostias et preces tibi, Domine,
We offer to Thee, O Lord,
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus
Holy, holy, holy,
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi: dona eis requiem.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, grant them rest.
Lux æterna luceat eis, Domine:
May light eternal shine upon them, O Lord,
As mentioned above, there is no Gloria, Alleluia or Credo in these musical settings.
The Pie Jesu consists of the final words of the Dies irae followed by the final words of the Agnus Dei.
Pie Iesu Domine, dona eis requiem.
Merciful Lord Jesus, grant them 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.
Libera me, Domine, de morte æterna, in die illa tremenda:
Deliver me, O Lord, from death eternal in that awful day.
In paradisum deducant te Angeli:
May the Angels lead thee into paradise:
For many centuries the texts of the requiem were sung to Gregorian melodies. The Requiem by Johannes Ockeghem, written sometime in the later 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 compositions 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 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 Requiem compositions 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 within a Requiem can be found as well.
Beginning in the 18th century and continuing through the 19th, many composers wrote what are effectively concert works, 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 Dvo?ák 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.
Many composers have composed a Requiem. Some of the most notable include the following (in chronological order):
English with Latin
French, Greek, with Latin
French, English, German with Latin
Latin and Japanese
Latin and German and others
Latin and Polish
Latin and 7th Century Northumbrian
In the 20th century the requiem evolved in several new directions. The genre of War Requiem is perhaps the most notable; it consists 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 Requiem 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 February 28 Incident and subsequent White Terror.
Lastly, the 20th century saw the development of the secular Requiem, written for public performance without specific religious observance, such as Frederick Delius's Requiem, completed in 1916 and dedicated to "the memory of all young Artists fallen in the war", and Dmitry Kabalevsky's Requiem (Op. 72 - 1962), a setting of a poem written by Robert Rozhdestvensky especially for the composition.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." American composer Dan Forrest has written Requiem for the Living, a five-movement piece that follows the tradition of the requiem mass, but in a concert setting. Although the requiem is traditionally a piece to remember the deceased, this piece is for the living: the people on earth who struggle with sorrow and pain. His work explores the traditional Introit, Kyrie, Dies Irae, Agnus Dei, Sanctus, and Lux Aeterna movements.