Music throwback: requiems for Holy Week

Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine: et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Requiem. Orozco, José Clemente: Mexican, 1883 – 1949
There was a pastor of my church who considered himself a Lenten person, rather than an Easter person. I totally got it. And requiems are the music I most associate with the period between Mardi Gras and Easter, arguably more interesting that the tunes associated with the culmination of the season.

Maybe it’s because it’s the music I have sung personally most often that it resonates so. Or, to quote Elton John yet again, Sad songs say so much.

I’ve only sung one movement of A German Requiem by Johannes Brahms (1833–1897), and that in English, but several times during services. But I’ve sung the requiems by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) in the mid-1990s, Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924) in 2000 and 2005, Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986) in 2008, and John Rutter (1945- ) in the mid-1990s. the ones from this century I have recording of.

The famous Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) requiem I’ve sung thrice, once in 1985, once in the mid-1990s, and most recently on September 11, 2002, outdoors on a windy day, the only time I’ve ever worn a tuxedo to work.

There’s usually a pattern, starting with the introit:

Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine:
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.

Then
Kyrie, eleison.
Christe, eleison.
Kyrie, eleison.

It ends with In paradisum deducant te Angeli -May the angels lead you into paradise.

Not every requiem uses every element, or exactly the same text, but they are quite similar.

Listen to:

How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place (from A German Requiem by Brahms) – Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra

Verdi: Requiem, UC Davis Symphony Orchestra and University Chorus

Faure: Requiem Opus 48, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus

Durufle: Requiem, Opus 9, Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

Rutter Requiem, Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, and members of the City of London Sinfonia

Mozart – Requiem, Academy Of St. Martin In The Fields

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. i hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

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